Many believe that Blood Sugar Sex Magik was their high point. But bands that stay...
Jack Smith 2002
The success of Red Hot Chili Peppers begins when an unknown guitarist, John Fruciante, joined the band in 1988. The release of Mothers Milk helped break the group in America with their cover of the Stevie Wonder classic "Higher Ground". They soon became regulars on MTV and in the early 90s, as the underground moved into the mainstream, the Chili Peppers, like Nirvana, REM and Sonic Youth, benefited from this shift of music.
After the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik the Chili Peppers became one of the worlds biggest bands. The album spawned hits such as "Give It Away", "Under The Bridge" and "Suck My Kiss". Their sound was noisy and funky and grungy and to many fans this album was seen as their high point. Many believe that they have never been able to recapture that magic. But bands that stay stagnant and create the same sound album after album only end up like Oasis.
At the height of their success guitarist John Frusciante left and Dave Navaro was recruited as replacement. One Hot Minute was the sound of the band trying to recapture the sound of Blood Sugar Sex Magic and is seen as a low point in their career. Only "My Friends" appears from that period and for a while the world almost forgot about the Chili Peppers.
Then Dave left the band and John returned and in 1999 the band released Californication. The sound was softer and more melodic, yet they still retained that sound that made them, well them. "Scar Tissue", "Otherside" and "Californication" were without doubt Chili Pepper songs, but taken to a different place. Some thought they had sold out. But they hadn't sold out, they were evolving.
When By the Way was released last year the sound of the band had shifted further away form the bass lines of Flea to the guitar melodies of John. The album was based on The Smiths and Neu! instead of Gang of Four and Bad Brains.
The Chili Peppers have become a band famous for strong, anthemic songs rather than the punk-funk sounds characteristic of their early sound.
Personally I'm disappointed in the song selection as it favours Blood Sugar Sex Magic and Californication rather than being a well-balanced and truly representative sample from their back-catalogue. But as a hits compilation rather than a retrospective CD, it does what it says on the tin, and is an enjoyable listen in spite of the obvious track selections.
Review courtesy of 6 Music