Wednesday, 18 January 2012
ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS: STADIUM ARCADIUM
(It's a new year for this one year old blog so let's run my very first album review unedited and unleashed)
ROCK FANS CAN REJOICE! 2006 marks the return of a band who are currently amongst the best in music as the Red Hot Chili Peppers release a new double LP entitled ‘Stadium Arcadium’. This is the first studio album from the band in over four years. It’s been a long four years for Pepper fans despite the release of the ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘Live In Hyde Park’ albums in 2003 and 2004 respectively. ‘Stadium’ is the ninth release from a band who have been around the charts for just under 23 years. However with the release of their first double album (which was watered down from a proposed release of 38 tracks over 3 albums, each 6 months apart) does the band have enough material on their hands to remain relevant within their fan base and the mainstream charts.
The first disc ‘Jupiter’ starts explosively with the bands lead single ‘Dani California’ showcasing a great return for the band. The song concludes the story of ‘Dani California’ a female bank robber from Mississippi previously brought to our sound systems on the title tracks of 1999’s ‘Californication’ and 2002’s ‘By The Way’. The video for the song features the band paying tribute to eras and movements in the history of rock including funk, punk, goth and grunge. The sound of the track is typical chilli peppers, heavy but commercially viable with front man Anthony Kiedis on top form, great chemistry between guitarists John Frusciante and Flea and Chad Smith providing the perfect accompanying energy on the drums.
Throughout the ‘Jupiter’ disc the Chilli Pepper’s give the fans classic sounds including ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’, ‘Charlie’ and the title track ‘Stadium Arcadium’. The band however also give listeners a more traditional, laid back sound. ‘Jupiter’ doesn’t get much heavier than ‘Dani California’, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Tracks including ‘Especially In Michigan’ and ‘Hey’ fit nicely into the pattern of the sound of the album. However the standout track of the album is ‘Strip My Mind’, featuring great backing singing from John Frusciante combining with Anthony’s lead vocals giving listeners the best verses between the two since the 2002 single ‘Can’t Stop’. The strength of the song is punctuated by the best guitar riff from Frusciante in years.
Double albums normally come with problems. However the second disc ‘Mars’ takes you deeper into the Chili Peppers world. Mars starts strong with ‘Desecration Smile’ and the projected second single ‘Tell Me Baby’. Then comes the mellow ‘Hard to Concentrate’ this track and the standout ‘Animal Bar’ show’s the bands versatility. They do not feel like typical Chilli Peppers records however like on ‘By The Way’s’ ‘Cabron’ the band adopts many different sounds unafraid as ever to leave their comfort zone, but still feeling natural. Towards the end of the ‘Mars’ side of ‘Stadium Arcadium’ despite maintaining a consistent sound the album needs a pick-me-up. This comes courtesy of ‘Turn it Again’ a vibrant track that finishes the album off nicely alongside the slow ‘Death of a Martain’.
The inspirations for this double disc set are diverse. John Frusciante informs us to our surprise that hardcore hip-hop act The Wu-Tang Clan influenced a lot of his writing. Also the singing style on the record ‘If’ comes from John Frusciante being influenced by R&B singer Brandy. The biggest influence on this album though seems to be love. Kiedis admits that all the band members are settled down and in love. This is evident on many tracks such as ‘She Looks To Me’ and ‘If’. Now love is the bands drug of choice they may seem far-removed from the punk driven songs of their early years in the 80’s, however the band still stay true to their funk and diverse sound. The album was the first they recorded in Producer Rick Rubin’s famous LA mansion since their 1992 classic ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’. It seems like just under 15 years removed the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have another classic on their hands. TIM DAVID HARVEY.