After departing from the Chili Peppers, John found himself in his LA house,strung out on drugs and severely depressed. Friends such as Gibby Haynes (Lead singer of the Butthole Surfers), River Phoenix (Talented young actor, died in 1993 from a Heroin Overdose at Johnny Depp's club, the Viper Room) & Perry Farrell (Lead singer of Jane's Addiction & Porno for Pyros) persuaded John to release a solo album, saying that there wasn't good music anymore.
John went ahead and released his first solo album, Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a Tshirt, through Rick Rubin's (producer of BloodSugarSexMagik) American Recordings label. "Niandra", (actually two albums. Niandra LaDes: tracks 112 & Usually Just a Tshirt: Tracks 1325 combined into one) is a journey into one's mind, in this case, John's. That might be a plain thing to say, but by the first minute into Niandra, you quickly know this is not just anyone's mind.
Niandra is like walking into John's apartment.
He sits you down and through every dimension imaginable, delivers every emotion and vibe that he feels at any particular point in time. A great factor to this is that he used a 4track recorder, and in some cases, a stereo system to record Niandra LaDes and Usually just a Tshirt. The album turned out to be a commercial flop, selling something in the ranges of 45,000 copies before it was dubbed as "out of print". Frusciante was & is still not concerned about this.
His feelings were that, if you have an open mind and allow yourself to see reality in it's truest form, and enjoy this album, that it is a success.
As stated before, if you truly have a sense for feeling you can enjoy this album. Fans of John's solo work, see his music as something so pure and honest, it can trigger any expression and/or emotion. That's certainly what Niandra does! As an incredibly gifted man, Frusciante can filter any emotion through his guitar and deliver something that very few artists can, Pure Expression.
Niandra was recorded during various times and places. Tracks were recorded before and during his involvement with the RHCP. A few tracks with the late River Phoenix were recorded during this timeline as well. But, a majority of the tracks on this album come from the time period in which John was strung out on heroin in his hollywood apartment, which burnt down several years after the completion of Niandra. It's like you're taken into this world where beauty flys high and corruption and addiction plays it's toll. The one thing about Niandra LaDes and Usually just a Tshirt is that, you either LOVE it, or you HATE it. There is no inbetween. An Avid and strict top 40 listener would find this album to be a waste of their time.
But chances are, if you're one who SEARCHES for music, instead of allowing the media to manipulate and control your emotional state & choice, Niandra turns out to be a fantastic and original masterpiece. There is nothing on this planet like it. There is simply no point in trying to compare this album to other artists and their work. Niandra is a lofi work of art, a musical gem and an emotional dependence for many.
Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a Tshirt was rereleased in 1999, under American Recordings/Sony music.
The specifics of Equipment used on Niandra are not all that clear. There are some obvious elements there, such electric and acoustic guitars, as well as piano. But the surprising thing is, is that John also plays Bass, as well as Banjo here. He recorded and mastered the album himself, without much help from American Recordings.