Artist – Album: Red Hot Chili peppers – By the Way
Released: 9th July 2002
Sounds Like: The new and improved Red Hot Chili peppers
The Red Hot Chili’s had been through an awful lot by the time of their eighth studio album. Formed two decades earlier, they had begun life as the infamous cock-rockers (or should that be cock-sockers due to their unique way of wearing socks?) Tony Flow & the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, dabbling in punk, funk, rock and rap. As they changed their name and first began to release albums and gain a following outside of the Californian underground they operated mostly as a quartet, with the backbone of Anthony Kiedis and Flea backed by Jack Irons on drums and Hillel Slovak on guitar. Unfortunately, years of drug abuse and waywardness reached its inevitable conclusion as Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1987, and Irons left the band soon after.
New recruits Chad Smith and John Frusciante would complete the most successful line up of the Chili Peppers career, and they soon forged greater success with their 1989 cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’, the album Mother’s Milk, and, more completely, with Blood Sugar Sex Magic and lead singles ‘Give It Away’and ‘Under the Bridge’. Things still weren’t quite settled though for the Chili’s though, and it took Frusciante to quit the band and spend a spell in rehab before they found their feet once more with 1999’s Californication. By the start of the new millennium and the release of By the Way, however, things were better than ever before.
Frusciante was seemingly freed from his shackles imposed upon him by crippling addiction and he took a much more prominent place in the band, writing the majority of the songs and embellishing each song with his versatile guitar work and his soaring backing vocals. Kiedis went sober in 2000, but he didn’t shy away from singing about the hard times, with ‘This is the Place’ being the most severe indictment of his previous dependency, containing the line about Slovak “On the day my best friend died I could not get my copper clean”. But for the most part the band seemed to revel in their newfound status as the mature, tee-total, stadium fillers that they had become. ‘Universally Speaking’, ‘Dosed’, ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Cabron’ were joyous, sunny songs, ‘By the Way’, ‘Can’t Stop’ and ‘Throw Away Your Television’ merged the funk-rap of before with the harmonious sound they were perfecting, whilst the latter half of the album, and, in particular, ‘Midnight’, ‘Tear’, ‘Warm Tape’ and ‘Venice Queen’ were near-psychedelic tracks that showcased the Chili’s sky high confidence and their willingness to experiment with the template.
By the Way was the triumphant culmination of years of hard work, resilience and no little talent; an album that won legions of new fans whilst still satisfying the old ones, one that left the critics satisfied but also peppered radio station’s playlist for years afterwards, one that confirmed their status amongst the highest echelon of rock’s elite. Nice one boys.
Albumaday... rating: 8/10
1. By the Way – 3:37
2. Universally Speaking – 4:19
3. This Is the Place – 4:17
4. Dosed – 5:12
5. Don't Forget Me – 4:37
6. The Zephyr Song – 3:52
7. Can't Stop – 4:29
8. I Could Die for You – 3:13
9. Midnight – 4:55
10. Throw Away Your Television – 3:44
11. Cabron – 3:38
12. Tear – 5:17
13. On Mercury – 3:28
14. Minor Thing – 3:37
15. Warm Tape – 4:16
16. Venice Queen – 6:07
Listen to ‘Minor Thing’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KHmv2XYMsE
Also released on the 9th July:
2007: Cherry Ghost – Thirst for Romance
Also released on the 9th July:
2012: Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?