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Red Hot Chili Peppers
Two important things happened (for me, at least) in 1983 ~ I was born, and so were the Red Hot Chili Peppers. While the former hasn’t been of much use to the music lovers among us, the latter has undeniably affected the funky white (brown) boys (girls) of the world. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the arcane funk of the alternatively inspiring Red Hot Chili Peppers (For the sake of your eyes, and my fingers, I shall now refer to them as RHCP).

From the Top
Like most things, nothing looks the same today as it did way back in 1983, when the band comprised of Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary (Flea), Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons. While other commitments pulled the band apart, it was Kiedis and Flea who stuck together and filled the slots with replacements Jack Sherman (guitar) and Cliff Martinez (drums), for their self-titled debut. After the two prodigal sons’ return, it was a while before RHCP got their groove back. But they did come close to recreating their live acts on 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan that made a great ~ considering the band’s presence it was great ~ impression on the charts.
Misfortune struck. Slovak overdosed on heroin in June 1988. Unable to cope with his the loss of his friend, Irons left soon after, and replacements of historical proportions filled in. Enter Chad Smith (drums) and John Frusciante (guitar). The new lineup didn’t waste much time with grief, and instead put themselves into 1989’s Mother’s Milk. The album became a surprise hit, thanks to a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, and Knock Me Down, a song in memoriam of the lost Slovak.
Suddenly, things began to fit. The band took strides, big ‘mofo’ strides, towards their next album. 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik made the world stand up and take notice. Three words brought a vision of funked up glory to the mind of the world at large ~ Give It Away. And another three words brought immense, intense emotion to the top of RHCP’s portfolio ~ Under The Bridge. They didn’t seem like fury-fuelled maniacs. They seemed real.

But reality is susceptible to fault, and fame took its toll on Frusciante, as it had on Slovak. His losing battle with drugs marked his departure from the band, and RHCP and Frusciante went their separate ways. He went on to release two solo albums, 1995’s Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T Shirt, and 1997’s Smile From The Streets You Hold. The band however, as they had done before, filled the slot again. Perhaps RHCP is a juggernaut, a force overpowering each member’s individual reactions.
In walked Dave Navarro, who was decided upon after numerous others failed to pass the bar. And soon ~ if four years is soon ~ Blood Sugar Sex Magik’s successor One Hot Minute was released in 1995. While One Hot Minute did well, its lukewarm response amongst fans sealed Navarro’s fate. In 1998, Navarro exited, stage left. And while this left much to speculation by fans, in despair that yet another ill-fitting replacement would fill the boots of the erstwhile RHCP guitarist Frusciante, there was naught to be worried about.

In 1999, with a rehabilitated Frusciante, RHCP released Californication, and interest was to start anew. What Californication did was bring RHCP to a whole new generation of fans-in-waiting. Scar Tissue, Californication, and Otherside were runaway hits, gathering in their wake the acceptance of critics and fans alike, and a Grammy award to boot (for Scar Tissue). Other notable hits were Around The World, Road Trippin’, and Parallel Universe.

Their stormy past behind them, assumedly, RHCP resorted to doing more band-like stuff, apart from just touring and releasing original albums. They released their first concert DVD in 2001, titled Off the Map and directed by Dick Rude. And yet again, within a year, they had 2002’s By The Way out. Roller coaster ride that it was, RHCP was ready for another high. Singles By The Way, The Zephyr Song, Can’t Stop, Dosed and Universally Speaking helped drive By the Way to the #2 spot on Billboard, beating Californication’s peak of #3.
RHCP followed the release with a two-year tour to support By the Way during which they released Live at Slane Castle in 2003 and a Greatest Hits album later that year. The following year, they released Live at Hyde Castle, their first-ever live album. And four years after By the Way, comes Stadium Arcadium.

The New Album
Stadium Arcadium debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, something no RHCP album has done till date. And to add to that, it debuted at #1 in 16 other countries. This is the commercial success that is Stadium Arcadium, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ninth studio album, and first original two-CD set (titled Jupiter and Mars), with a total of 28 songs. Produced by Rick Rubin, the album has also received rave reviews from critics around the world.
“We set out to write 13 songs,” says Kiedis. “But as has been the case every time we’ve tried to do that, we ended up with 30-some-odd songs. The difference this time was we ended up liking all of those songs and finishing all of those songs, and it actually became a very difficult process to whittle it down to 28.” In fact, the band had 38 songs, and the left out ten, were initially scheduled as bonus tracks or b-sides on the album.
What I love about the Red Hot Chili Peppers is their ability to carry forth each strength of theirs. “Funk is one of our strong suits.” Frusciante admits. Still, he adds, they found themselves gravitating more towards melody. And this is what is seen the most on their new album. Tracks help bring out melodious vocals, funky bass riffs, groovy beats, shredding ~ would you believe ~ and emotionally captivating lyrics.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Red Hot Chili Peppers in the June 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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