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Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

Five singles, all of them huge. Plenty more that shoulda-been. John Frusciante returns, replacing Dave Navarro, and the sound shifted. Melodic and contemplative, their irrepressible energy remains (sounds like Chilis!). This one sees them making strides towards finding a bit more balance.

I’m known in these parts as a Chilis fan, and I won’t sell this to some of our Readers, but that’s OK. Chaçun â son goût! More for me!

Californication rules, top to bottom.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute

There’s been some discussion in the comments, as a result of a line I added to my recent review of Californication that I was hoping it’d be an improvement over One Hot Minute. It was a comment I made offhand, and based on my memory of hearing this album ages ago. Old impressions are hardly fair, so let’s give it another spin, shall we?

Warped starts out with a fairly weird, trippy bit. But it soon turns into a big RHCP rawk trippy song. The effects on the vocals, here, were unnecessary, despite the song title. Aeroplane was the song shoved at us as the hit. It’s an OK song, catchy enough to stick in your head long after hearing it. Sounds like it could’ve been an outtake left off Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The kids singing at the end used to tick me off as pointless, and now, well, I pretty much feel the same. But whatever works for them.

Deep Kick starts off with a spoken word bit, but after almost two minutes it launches into another Chilis funk rawk fest. On record, it rocks hard enough – live, this song would kill. Well, most of it would – once we hit 5:05 it becomes an atonal slow song. WTF. I skipped to the next track. Moving on, My Friends (not to be confused with “Me and my, me and my, me and my FRIENDS!” from the old days) starts out acoustic and becomes a pretty, slow rock song. It’s not exactly memorable, but it’s decent enough.

Coffee Shop rocks HARD. The melody line is definitely weird. That’s more than a couple of tracks here, already, where I’m wondering if the band was in a troubled spot, of maybe the drugs were good? I shouldn’t disparage, these guys should be given due credit for trying new things. But is it something you’d wanna hear more than once? Hm. I like the instrumental break at 1:35. Very funky!

Pea is a gentle, odd little tune. The lyrics are hilarious, but again with the atonal singing. Is that an acoustic bass, or just the bottom strings on a regular acoustic? Just an strange song.

One Big Mob goes right back into the pummel-rock. Lots of tom work over the chanting. This is a funk punk party! Well, except for the giant section in the middle, from 1:05 to 3:45, where they go all slow and muddy and trippy again. Sigh. Walkabout is a great track, a slow funk jam. I really liked this one, shoulda been a radio hit. It blends right into Tearjerker, a slow song that ambles along, and even the big payoff isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. Feels like a song to get though.

One Hot Minute is a hard-hitter. Sounds like Rollins Band could’ve done it, honestly. It has that sound that’s trying to crush you, even if Kiedis’ vocals aren’t nearly as menacing as ol’ angry-ass Hank’s. Yes! Falling into Grace has a big, fat ass, and is a Chilis funk workout. The chorus is a little weak, but I liked most of this. Shallow Be Thy Game is a full-on funk punk rock attack. Yes! This is a strong one! Transcending closes things off with a mid-tempo track that houses a strong groove. And then, right near the end, there’s another big rock crusher jam. Going out with a bang, for sure, this is one of the album’s best tracks. Nice one!

In sum: My memory of this record is faulty. I dismissed it (easily, it seems). And perhaps it doesn’t have as many tracks that are on the order of their biggest hits and, yes, there are some weirdo freaky tracks, but this is the Chilis, and we expect that of them by now. I’d say 3/4 of this record is really, really strong. I’d also wager it gets better as it goes, the ending much better than the beginning, like it took them a while to find their feet. I’m very glad I revisited it! Let’s JAM!

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

I hadn’t spun this CD in a while. There’s just so much music I need to hear for the first time, let alone going back to a record I used to jam all the time. I shouldn’t have left it so long.

I remember buying this not long after it came out, itching for that funk rock as only the Chilis can do it, and also for an improvement over the previous effort, One Hot Minute. I should review that one here, too. Some day!

Anyway, I plugged this record in and it really is something great. Just like Mothers Milk or Blood Sugar Sex Magik, this is a definitive Chilis record. Every track is solid gold. Honestly, it plays like a bloody greatest hits (and some of them are greatest hits). Phenomenal.

I was going to go through it track by track, as seems to be my current way of writing up these things, but you know the sound, you know the vocal tricks and sound, you know the bass is gonna kick your ass. Guitars and drums are flying high and damn funky, everything is clicking and, for this record at least, all was very, very well in Chili World.

I’m just gonna print the track listing here. Trust me. If you don’t own this, you should. Now. Man, I had SUCH a good time blasting this one again!

Around The World
Parallel Universe
Scar Tissue
Otherside
Get On Top
Californication
Easily
Porcelain
Emitremmus
I Like Dirt
This Velvet Glove
Savior
Purple Stain
Right On Time
Road Trippin’

Hot damn! This record rocks!

SLCR #181: Red Hot Chili Peppers (November 24, 2012)

or, “On Ticketmaster, and Why I Hate It”

This show feels like it was announced a year ago. Tickets went on sale about seven months before the concert, according to the internet. I may not remember the exact date, but the series of pointless struggles have left scars that may never heal.

November is cold, right? And snowy and icy, depending on the year. So when Dave and I decided to go to the show, we figured it was best if he bought the tickets. I’m in Regina, he’s in Saskatoon, the show was in Saskatoon, and weather gets gross. I like the Chili Peppers and all, but if there was a blizzard or ice storm or something, I might decide against risking my life just to see them. If Dave had my ticket, he could bring someone else with him and the ticket wouldn’t go to waste. This all seemed reasonable, so Dave bought the tickets. He used his special credit card paperless e-ticket front-of-the-line deal, and I don’t understand why the seats you get in presales are always so decidedly average, but whatever. They were perfectly fine seats, but you didn’t get any special advantage from buying early.

Anyway, a few months out, Dave and Jen started talking about a fall vacation and realized that the best time for them was the week of the concert. They started making plans and determined that they may or may not be back in time for the show. No big deal, these things happen, so we started looking into contingency plans, and this is where the problems began. Because they’re paperless tickets, he had nothing to give me. Our first idea was that he’d leave his credit card with someone in Saskatoon, I could pick up the card, and they’d scan the card at the arena to let me in. This would have worked unless they asked for photo ID. I suppose I could have borrowed his driver’s license and shaved my head, and hope they’d let me through with a “wow, you’ve really let yourself go to hell,” but I wasn’t willing to take the risk.

I suggested that Dave sell the tickets and give me my money back, and I’d just buy a single ticket on the day of the show if I felt like going, but that didn’t work either. Without a physical ticket, you have nothing to sell. Dave got on the phone with Ticketmaster, thinking that we are all reasonable people in a reasonable situation and this surely can’t be the first time something like this has happened. Ticketmaster essentially told him we were fucked (not in so many words) and that he shouldn’t have bought tickets (pretty much in so many words).

Of course, the whole thing wound up meaning nothing, since Dave and Jen spent their vacation house painting, so y’know, whatever. And it WAS icy and gross, but I took the bus to Saskatoon and made the driving someone else’s problem. Mostly Dave and Jen’s problem, since they had to act as chauffeurs for the weekend.

Dave picked me up at the bus station and on the way to his house, I heard a radio ad for the Chili Peppers show. You know that booming voice of God that narrates a lot of rock concert or monster truck show commercials? This one seriously said “Red Hot Chili Peppers at Credit Union Centre – FINALLY, something to look forward to.” Never before has an ad so perfectly captured the resigned desperation that comes from living in Saskatchewan. Save us, Flea!

This was on Friday. The show was on Saturday, meaning that Dave and Jen had to pick me up again before the show. I have to say, there’s something addicting about being a burden. No wonder old people seem to love it so! It’s your car and your concert tickets and your house and your city, but you have to do whatever I say. Such power!

After a tasty dinner to which I contributed absolutely nothing (see? power!), we headed out for the Credit Union Centre. Née Saskatchewan Place, Saskatoon’s hockey arena is on the outskirts of town, where it is not served by nearly enough roadway to handle a sold-out crowd. Luckily, Dave and Jen live relatively nearby and they knew a top-secret backroads way there that let us avoid most of the traffic. It may have been the same road I tried to take many years ago when in leaving a concert, I nearly killed Pat through dehydration; somehow, whatever path I took was in the opposite direction of every 7-Eleven on the planet and his sad little dry lipsmacks still haunt my nightmares. But I’m rambling.

Our opening act was the Rebirth Brass Band. I knew this a long time before the show, but somehow I never mentioned it to Mika. I wasn’t familiar with the name, and she wasn’t going to the show, so it just never came up. Well, as it so happens (and which surely everyone on Earth but me knew; that’s what I get for not paying more attention to Treme), the Rebirth Brass Band is a legendary New Orleans brass band and Mika, who could take or leave the Chili Peppers, was suddenly sad that she didn’t go to the show. A coworker of mine who saw the Peppers on their last tour through Saskatchewan (and who lived in New Orleans for a time) was equally sad he missed out this time around.

While I wasn’t initially familiar with the Rebirth Brass Band, I knew they had to be someone special. Not only did the very idea of a brass band as the opener indicate that they were personally chosen by the Peppers and not assigned by promoters or record companies, there was the small detail that they were really good. The only thing that hampered their set a little was the usual crowd apathy towards opening acts.

As for the Chili Peppers, I’ve been a fan since buying Blood Sugar Sex Magik somewhere around the spring of 1992. I hadn’t heard anything on the cassette when I bought it, but some of the cool kids in high school really liked it, and I can hop on a bandwagon with the best of them. Through the years, there were stretches where I liked them a lot and others where I almost completely quit paying attention. I’ve sang their songs in Rock Band and I have an autographed copy of their CD Californication (it’s autographed by the members of Moxy Früvous, mind you, but signed is signed). All of this led up to this concert, where I’d been a fan of the band for over 20 years but was still so unfamiliar with a bunch of their output.

As it turned out, all three of us were surprised to find that we knew pretty much all the songs. I’d forgotten just how many hits the Peppers had in their 30 years as a band (in the evening’s god-i’m-old moment, Dave mentioned that he’d heard Anthony Kiedis’ 50th birthday referenced on some entertainment news show). The setlist:
01. Monarchy of Roses
02. Around the World
03. Snow ((Hey Oh))
04. Scar Tissue
05. jam #1
06. Look Around
07. Can’t Stop
08. jam #2
09. Hard to Concentrate
10. Throw Away Your Television
11. jam #3
12. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
13. jam #4
14. I Like Dirt
15. Goodbye Hooray
16. Under the Bridge
17. Higher Ground
18. Californication
19. jam #5
20. By the Way
21. encore jam
22. Suck My Kiss
23. I Could Have Lied
24. Give It Away

The stage setup was your standard big-arena deal, with the band playing under giant screens that alternated between live footage and prerecorded effects (or, in the case of Give It Away, photobooth pictures of audience members taken before the show began) (by which I mean the pictures were taken, not the audience members, who were there of their own free will) (as far as I know).

I know the setlist because the Peppers sold MP3s of the concert, something I wish every band would do for every show ever. I’m listening to it right now and it’s amazing how much better the sound is in the recording than it was live. Hockey arenas really aren’t ideal venues for music. At the show, I got tired of the extended jams, but I’m enjoying them a lot more listening to them now.

Having said that, the show was still a blast and the crowd loved it, singing along to most of the hits. Under The Bridge was a particular favourite, in a popular-song-is-popular shocker. Before the encore, I’d enjoyed the show but wished for more songs from Blood Sugar Sex Magik; I can only assume they read my mind and we got three straight from my favourite Peppers album. You’re welcome, Saskatoon. As an added bonus, the Rebirth Brass Band joined the Peppers on stage for Give It Away. You could barely hear them at the show, but they’re quite clear on the recorded version and give the song a unique flair. Finally, Flea thanked us, encouraged us to support live music, and we were on our way.

After the show, we went out to the miserable parking lot and proceeded to sit in the car and not move for about 45 minutes along with 10,000 other people who were all stuck too. The Credit Union Centre is as well designed as the rest of Saskatoon, which is to say, horribly. And of course, all 10,000 of us were trying to get online with our phones to kill time, clogging the data network. I don’t know about any of the other cars, but we resorted to flipping through the satellite radio stations, stopping on a talk show on one of the porn channels. It turns out that there’s only so much of that you can take (that’s what he said) (not a typo; it was a most enlightening discussion).

So yes. All in all, a great show – but NOW what do we have to look forward to?

UPCOMING SHOWS I HAVEN’T BOUGHT TICKETS TO:
• Hannah Georgas w/The Belle Game: January 25
• Whitehorse: February 7
• Sarah Slean: February 22
• Leonard Cohen: March 9
• Electric Six: March 18
• Regina Folk Festival: August 9-11

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Holy crap, this giant of a record was released twenty years ago!

Mark my words, before the year is out there will be some sort of anniversary release of this on the shelves. And I will buy it. Anyway.

The Chilis have always been so funky it hurts, and this record is no different than any of their others, as you well know, since you’ve been grooving to it forever. Suffice it to say: this band is on their own scale, they are their own genre, they are unto themselves. And we love them for it.

I can’t find a track here that I don’t like. I tried. I thought, OK, you always write that you love albums. Get a spine, son, and find something wrong. Well, I went from top to bottom on this humungous disc, 17 songs and over 70 minutes and every note is where it ought to be and every song is better than most other bands could even hope to devise. Its funk, it’s punk, it’s rap, it’s rock, it’s sheer, soaring bliss. A band at a peak they’ve never really lost.

I dare you to sit still while this record jams in your player. I dare you.

You. Will. Move. Guaranteed.

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