Jason’s Jukebox: The Red Hot Chili Peppers

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(Note: Beginning with this post, I will no longer embed Youtube videos into my Jukebox series. It’s too unpredictable. I’ll just give you the link as is instead.)

“When I find my peace of mind

I’m gonna keep it til the end of time”–“Soul to Squeeze”

Welcome back to Jason’s Jukebox, where I tell you all about every album from my favorite bands.  This time around, I’m looking at the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Last year, they celebrated their 30th anniversary.  I’m going to give you my thoughts on all their albums, rating them in habernero peppers, the hottest peppers known to man.  The higher the amount of haberneros, the better it is. Also, an album that is marked “magnum opus” is what I consider their best work.

(Note: Since this band has changed its roster numerous times, I’m including roster changes where appropriate)

1. Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

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Rating: 1 habernero

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Jack Sherman–lead guitar

Cliff Martinez–drums

Single: “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”

If you’re wondering “Wait, wasn’t Hillel Slovak their first guitarist?” Well, he was on demos of this album, but on the official release, it’s Jack Sherman (if you buy the deluxe version, you can hear those demos with Slovak). Slovak was in another band with Flea and Jack Irons called What is This?. He felt that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were more of a side project. The only positive things I can say is that I like the album cover and “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” rocks.  The rest of the album isn’t that great, mostly because EMI didn’t care how it sounded and got anyone they could in the production booth. That changed beginning with the next album, thankfully. This is one of only two albums the Chili Peppers don’t play in concert, the other one being One Hot Minute.

Fun Fact: This is one of the only two Red Hot Chili Peppers albums recorded on vinyl. (The other one is Freaky Styley) Both are extremely rare.
Video link for best song: “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZdAI3pMcgU)
2. Freaky Styley (1985)

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Rating: Magnum Opus

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Hillel Slovak–lead guitar

Cliff Martinez–drums

Singles: “Jungle Man”, “Catholic School Girls Rule”, “Hollywood (Africa)”

This album was produced by George Clinton, one of the Chili Peppers’ biggest influences.  Slovak officially joined the band beginning with this album and made the band sound so much better than their debut.  This was the first album to feature covers: “If You Want Me to Stay” (originally Sly and the Family Stone) and “Africa” (originally The Meters) George Clinton actually suggested that “Africa” be reworked as “Hollywood”. As he put it, Hollywood was the Chili Peppers’ “Africa”, so it was more fitting. He was right. This is a huge improvement over the debut, and I’m going to spotlight more songs because of that.
Fun Facts: The voice saying “Look at that turtle go!” on “Yertle the Turtle” is George Clinton’s drug dealer. This was the first album to feature both an instrumental track and a title track (the instrumental track is the title track, actually). There would not be another title track until Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Best Songs: “The Brothers Cup” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6bPGKFG0dY
“If You Want Me to Stay” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKejwpe_ajc)

“American Ghost Dance” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZM3aek9yxE)
3. Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

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Rating: 4 1/2 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Hillel Slovak–lead guitar

Jack Irons–drums

Singles: “Fight Like a Brave”, “Me and My Friends”, “Behind the Sun”

This was Slovak’s final album due to his drug-induced death while on tour.  While all four members were pretty heavy on the drugs, Slovak was the worst, but his death eventually caused Kiedis and Flea to kick their habits. I really don’t like saying this is such a great album, but it is. I love so many songs on this album. It wasn’t nearly as good as Freaky Styley, but it’s pretty darn close.

Fun Fact: While “Behind the Sun” was released on this album, it didn’t get a video until it was re-released on What Hits?. This is why John Frusciante is in the video rather than Slovak.

Best Songs: “Fight Like a Brave” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNrrm2BKDw0
“Backwoods” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUchU-I8fjM)

4. Mother’s Milk (1989)

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Rating: 4 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

John Frusciante–guitar, backing vocals

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down”, “Taste The Pain”

Jack Irons left the band after Slovak’s death, no longer wanting to mourn any more friends.  (He later joined Eleven and Pearl Jam, leaving the latter in 2007) This was the debut for Frusciante and Smith, and a great way to start their tenures with the band.  The album is just solid all the way through, even with the odes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.  The covers of “Higher Ground” and “Fire” are just awesome. (If you get the deluxe version, you get live covers of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Castles Made of Sand”, also by Hendrix)

Fun Facts: The deluxe edition features the Chili Peppers’ second and final instrumental track, “The Song That Made Us What We Are Today”. “Taste the Pain” features Flea on trumpet.

Best Songs: “Higher Ground” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ADTPb2f_44
“The Song That Made Us What We Are Today” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DbO5xhZlhA)
“Nobody Weird Like Me” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVNzKSsx3j8)

5. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

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Rating: Magnum Opus

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

John Frusciante–guitar, backing vocals

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Give It Away”, “Under the Bridge”, “Suck My Kiss”, “Breaking the Girl”

This was the album that began the Chili Peppers’s tenure with Warner Bros, which they are still part of today.  It introduced many fans to the band and began their relationship with one of the best producers ever, Rick Rubin.  It’s a true masterpiece that the band has never been able to top. If you haven’t listened to this album at least once, you can’t call yourself a fan.  The only reason I never owned it was the Parental Advisory Sticker.

Fun Fact: This was the last album to feature a cover, “They’re Red Hot” by Robert Johnson. The deluxe edition contains “Little Miss Lover” and “Castles Made of Sand”, both originally recorded by Jimi Hendrix. “Sikamikaniko” and “Soul to Squeeze” were both recorded for the album, but were instead released on the soundtracks for Wayne’s World and Coneheads.

Best Songs: “Power of Equality” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT6UCvR7kgU)
“Give It Away” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr_uHJPUlO8)
“Under the Bridge” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwlogyj7nFE)

6. One Hot Minute (1995)

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Rating: 2 1/2 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Dave Navarro–guitar

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Aeroplane”, “Warped”, “My Friends”

This was the only 90’s album by the Chili Peppers not to feature John Frusciante, who had temporarily left the band because he was overwhelmed by the fame of the previous album and the band wanted him to kick his drug habit. While I don’t like it nearly as much as the others, I still think it’s a great album.  It really feels more like a Jane’s Addiction album than a Chili Peppers album, mostly due to Navarro’s involvement. I feel the album isn’t nearly as bad as some have made it out to be.

Fun Fact: Flea’s daughter Clara stars in the video for “Aeroplane”. You can also hear her crying on “One Big Mob”.

Best Songs: “Aeroplane” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV8IAOojoAA
“Deep Kick” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwlwJFcNf3Q)

7. Californication (1999)

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Rating: 4 1/2 haberneros

Roster: Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

John Frusciante–guitar, backing vocals

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Scar Tissue”, “Around the World”, “Other Side”, “Californication”

The band came back together the way they were meant to be after a four-year hiatus. During this break, Frusciante recorded his first solo CD, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt. This is just a solid album, and I love every track on it.

Best Songs: “Californication” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk)
“Get On Top” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A6VY-TGysU)

8. By The Way (2002)

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Rating: 3 1/2 haberneros

Singles: “By The Way”, “The Zephyr Song”, “Can’t Stop”

I think this is really a great album, with the most varied sound out of all their albums.  Frusciante does some awesome riffs here, especially on “Can’t Stop”.

Best Songs: “Can’t Stop” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOdWSiyWoc
“Midnight” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkUJbshSGQ8)

9. Stadium Arcadium (2006)

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Rating: Magnum Opus

Singles: “Dani California”, “Tell Me Baby”, “Desecration Smile”, “Hump De Bump”

This was Frusciante’s last album with the band, and a great one to go out on. If you haven’t heard any of Frusciante’s albums, I highly recommend checking them out. They’re great experimental music. This album was a bit more pricey than the previous ones since it’s a double album, but it’s worth it.

Fun Fact: The song “Death of a Martian” is a eulogy for Flea’s dog.

Best Songs: “Dani California” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb5aq5HcS1A
“Storm in a Teacup” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6pkumKWlM8

10.I’m With You (2012)
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Rating: 3 haberneros

Anthony Kiedis–lead vocals

Michael “Flea” Balzary–bass

Josh Klinghoffer–guitar

Chad Smith–drums

Singles: “Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, “Monarchy of Roses” “Look Around”, “Brendan’s Death Song”

I’ve heard this album get some low marks, which I think is undeserved.  Frusciante was a tough act to follow, and while I don’t think Klinghoffer is better than him, I do think he’s a good replacement. He doesn’t go for the big riff like Frusciante, but he does know how to do a good solo when the song calls for it.

Fun Fact: “Brendan’s Death Song” is a eulogy for Brendan Mullen, founder of The Masque, one of the first bars to ever give the band a gig. Also, Anthony Kiedis’s son Everett appears in the video for “Look Around”, marking the second time a child of one of the band members has appeared in a video.

Best Songs:

“Brendan’s Death Song” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxJncigqdGk
“Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtBbinpK5XI
“Look Around” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnisBb2rVOg)

Join me again in May, when I’ll put a whole half dollar in the jukebox and give you two posts. The first will celebrate the 35th anniversary of U2. The second will be my annual best covers list.

 

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Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

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