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Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Albums Get Ranked Up!

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be releasing a much anticipated new album in 2016.  However, with their current repertoire they have become one of the most successful and consistent bands in modern rock, so ranking their albums took quite bit of brainstorming. Focusing on the album as a whole and not the quality of the singles of each album was the main approach to this piece. RHCP’s first three albums are similar; a very young band trying to find its way.  However, when Mother’s Milk was released in 1989 the band finally tapped into their potential and the majority of the next six albums made the band one of the biggest, if not the biggest, band in modern rock music.

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers (self-titled) (1983)
The first album from RHCP was very raw and lacked cohesiveness, which would be expected considering the band wasn’t considered a serious project by guitarist Hillel Slovak who backed out of recording the album.  Anthony Kiedis and Flea have mentioned over the years that they prefer the demo versions of most of these songs which were recorded with the original lineup featuring Slovak.  Reaching just below the Billboard top 200, RHCP’s debut included very few highlights, however “Green Heaven” is a fan favorite and “Out In LA” is the first song that RHCP wrote together.
https://youtu.be/42NQHVgw7j0

9. Freaky Styley (1985)
Produced by funk mastermind George Clinton, Freaky Styley had some high points, particularly the comical “Catholic School Girls Rule” but still failed to garner much commercial success.
Bassist Flea had this to say about the album for the 2003 reissue:
“I know the music on this record was just way too obscure to ever be popular in a mainstream kind of way, but to me it really holds its own as a definitive and substantial musical statement. More than any other record we ever made it falls into the category of “too funky for white radio, too punk rockin’ for black.” Of course, the songs were very far away from any pop format; I realize it is/was not just the racial segregation at radio that precluded it from being a popular record.”
https://youtu.be/6RuXFD4cOmM

8. The Uplift MoFo Party Plan (1987)
The Uplift MoFo Party Plan was the last album to feature all four founding members of the band. Guitarist Hillel Slovak would later die of a heroin overdose after the tour in support of the album, and drummer Jack Irons would quit the band being unable to cope with the loss of his friend.  As the RHCP sound continued to sprout, this album was their most successful one up to this point and was actually their first album to enter the Billboard top 200.  Some noteworthy tracks include “Fight Like A Brave”, “Me and my Friends”, and “Behind the Sun”.

7. I’m With You (2011)
The first album since One Hot Minute sans John Frusciante seems to be a band in rebuilding mode with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer who seemingly does not quite fill the shoes his predecessor left behind.  Many RHCP albums, specifically the ones released after the 1980’s, were very guitar heavy, but the guitar parts took more of a backing role with I’m With You. However, it seems that the talent of Josh Klinghoffer wasn’t the issue; the issue was in the production phase of the album as the recorded guitar parts were greatly turned down.  A fan re-engineered the album and posted the new version on youtube which brings the guitar parts out into the forefront. Many fans believe this change greatly enhanced the quality of the album and truth be told if that version was the one originally released it would have been ranked just below Blood Sugar Sex Magic on this list. However, based on the recording that was released, besides one of the most exceptional ballads the band has ever recorded in “Breaden’s Death Song”, the tracks don’t measure up to any of the singles that RHCP released since before Mother’s Milk. Tracks like “Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, “Look Around”, and “Monarchy of Roses” which all could be placed in the same category as “Suck My Kiss”, “Higher Ground”, and “Around the World” would all rank at the bottom of that category.  I’m With You was an album with great potential, but the decision to hide Klinghoffer’s talent greatly degraded the finished product.

https://youtu.be/LKxsvCgNzfc

6. Mothers Milk (1989)
Mothers Milk was the album that RHCP finally polished their unique sound to form something that was widely accepted on MTV and rock radio. The Stevie Wonder cover “Higher Ground” and the second single “Knock Me Down” both received significant air play and became the sound the band would feed off of for years to come. Other great highlights from this album include the Jimmy Hendrix cover “Fire” and the scorcher “Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky”.
https://youtu.be/xnZuj820zSA

5. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik made the Red Hot Chili Peppers a worldwide phenomenon. Hard hitting and funky tracks like “Suck My Kiss” and “Give it Away” are the yin to the yang of two of the best ballads in the RHCP catalog in “Breaking the Girl” and “Under the Bridge”.  This album contained some of the band’s best singles, but as a complete piece wasn’t their best cohesive work.
https://youtu.be/XFkBVcjeCp8

4. One Hot Minute (1995)
The one off album featuring guitarist Dave Navarro in place of John Frusciante is a bit of an enigma. Flea once eluded that Navarro wasn’t a good fit for RHCP, and the band very rarely play a song from this album live. However, as a whole it is just about as great as the rest of their classics. It contains some of the bands more standard alternative rock tracks like “Coffee Shop” and “Warped” and along with the ballad “My Friends” and the fun oddity “Aeroplane” One Hot Minute is surprisingly RHCP’s most well rounded album.
https://youtu.be/Fgdrn_Y0XcE

3. By The Way (2002)
By The Way was critically acclaimed but a bit of a change of pace from the band’s previous releases. However, as solid as it was, the album wasn’t as consistent as Californication or Stadium Arcadium, even though “Can’t Stop” and “By The Way” were great singles. Other highlights include tracks like “Dosed”, “Universally Speaking” and “The Zephyr Song” in which the band strayed away from their norm and the tracks became a favorite among many fans.  Additionally, the track “Throw Away Your Television” may be the best track to come out of the By The Way sessions and has since become a spectacularly performed live staple.
https://youtu.be/zbn0oq0fZEA

2. Californication (1999)
After the release of One Hot Minute, five long years passed and the buzz surrounding RHCP had chilled a bit. There were some drug problems in the band during this hiatus plus the departure of Dave Navarro, however, that departure allowed for the return of John Frusciante, and the fire was restarted after the release of Californication. This album contains everything that makes the Red Hot Chili Peppers great songwriters. Tracks like “Otherside”, “Californication”, and “Scar Tissue” have the same essence that made “Under the Bridge” such a landmark track, and the funky “Around the World” was a throwback to the RHCP standard which helped get the critics back on their side.
https://youtu.be/zw7k8TCcukI?list=PLLu3jA528tg6fNKBTglt3Y4SFG5tduWI4

1. Stadium Arcadium (2006)
I can see it in the comments section already… This guy put which album #1!!!???
John Frusciante’s swan song.. or.. swan album (hardy har har) is, as a complete work, the Red Hot Chili Peppers BEST album.  Stadium Arcadium contains over two hours of great single worthy tracks and it’s difficult to single out a specific track that stands out amongst others because of the album’s consistency, and in all honesty, the singles may be the weakest tracks on the album.  Stadium Arcadium doesn’t have a track that is as epic as “Scar Tissue”, “Give It Away”, or “Under the Bridge” however, from start to finish, it is RHCPs most solid album and may actually be one of the best double albums of all time.

Hear all the best from the Red Hot Chili Peppers at www.rockshowradio.net and www.alternativenation.net/radio

FORGOTTEN ALBUMS OF THE 90s: SUN 60’s ONLY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Seattle is deservedly regarded as a nucleus of the 90s rock scene, there were some pretty exciting groups a thousand miles south in Los Angeles also responsible for some of the decade’s best musical moments. Stone Temple Pilots faced serious critical scorn, but quickly emerged as solid, consistent hitmakers. Red Hot Chili Peppers thrived thanks to the addition of guitarist John Frusciante and the universal appeal of songs like “Under the Bridge.” But while Sun 60 may not have been in heavy rotation on MTV or radio, their poppy but boundary-pushing sound makes their trio of releases required listening for any self-respecting 90s rock fan. Only, the band’s sophomore effort, might just be its finest hour.

“We had just finished writing the songs for the record and decided to really challenge our production and interpretation of our songs,” says Joan Jones, lead singer of Sun 60. That process led to a number of prominent guests dropping by the studio, covert recording sessions, and even the band obtaining a helicopter.

Under the watchful eye of Scott Litt (best known for his work with R.E.M. and Nirvana), the band wasted no time in bringing their diverse batch of songs to the next level. Several tracks boast a stellar back-up squad: Dave Navarro, the Jane’s Addiction guitarist on the eve of his ill-fated stint with Red Hot Chili Peppers; Jack Irons, already a veteran of RHCP, then playing drums in L.A.’s underrated Eleven, and later to join Pearl Jam; and Alain Johannes, a prolific producer and then the frontman for Eleven.

Sun 60 guitarist/pianist David Russo was happy to have the “remarkable” Navarro’s guitar work on two tracks. “Piano is my main instrument and I had just picked up guitar in order to bring some different textures into the mix but, really, I’m kind of dismal,” Russo humbly reflects. “[Dave] elevated ‘Never Seen God’ to a whole different level.”

Navarro’s impressive riffs on that funky track are matched only by his work on “Mary X-Mess,” Only‘s opener. Arguably the band’s greatest song, written as Jones’ “way of dealing with the holidaze,” it’s abstruse lyrics might not make it a favorite for carolers (though I certainly wouldn’t slam the door on anyone singing lyrics like, “Claim her drink tasted just the like the smell of the ham which made her sick 12 years ago”) but it’s certainly a good way to spice up a predictable Christmas playlist. It’s a perfect storm of Navarro’s wild guitar, Irons’ manic drumming, and Jones’ charming vocals (think a rockier Suzanne Vega).

The album offers more than chaotic rockers, though. Most of the band’s favorite tracks are the softer ballads, like “All of the Joy.” “That song came about quite simply and quickly,” Russo remembers. “I have a clear memory of the night and the joy. It held a lot of personal truths for me and the memory of sharing that with [Joan] is the most compelling.”

Jones cites “Pressure” as a particular standout. Written towards the end of the recording sessions, getting it on the album required some stealth on her part. “It was a Sunday and it was a day off,” she says. “I wanted to mess around in the studio and make up some stuff.” With the help of her friend Marc “Sugarshroom” Friedenberg, she began recording the song on free tracks of another song that the band was in the process of overdubbing. “[‘Pressure’] is moody and quiet ‘cuz we didn’t want to get in trouble for being in the studio that day,” she explains. Her plan was thwarted when a furious Russo unexpectedly came to the studio and kicked them out. But the bigger surprise came a day later, when Jones, expecting Russo and Litt to chastise her, learned that they loved the track. The group completed it and it became the album’s closing cut.

Truly, Only has something for everybody. There are inspiring anthems (“Hold On”), sludgy blues (“Tuff to Say”), warm acoustic numbers (“Tell Me Like You Know”), and harmonious grooves (“Water x3”). Whether that worked against the album commercially is unclear, but Jones has mixed emotions about the label’s commitment to the band. “Epic was a good record company for Sun 60 but there was always a battle,” she says. “They were one of the only majors that actually knew the value of college radio and touring. They did lack vision with the new wave of female performers that were not just rock or pop in a box. […] We battled on videos and imagery. They always wanted me to look like something I wasn’t.” Case in point: the director Epic hired for the “Hold On” and “Never Seen God” videos never finished them. The band members took it upon themselves to complete the videos, including a helicopter scene over Hollywood Hills.

Another problem with the label emerged shortly before the band’s publicity push for its third album, Headjoy, was about to start. A turnover at Epic removed much of Sun 60’s support base. With one album still left under their contract, the band could leave the label to get some much-needed cash. Hollywood Records was willing to sign Jones…as a solo act. For Russo, who was never interested in performing on stage, it was an easy decision. “Personally, I was ready to move on,” he says. “Sun 60, to me, was never more than an expression of my love for Joan. I never really cared about being in a band. […] It wasn’t an authentic life for me.” Since leaving Sun 60, he embarked on a European tour with Sheryl Crow; did various studio work; and scored over 40 films and TV shows, including Sin City, Pineapple Express, and Grindhouse. He’s currently scoring the third season of the CW’s Nikita. “I think what’s next for me is to continue to make music every day of my life in whatever fashion I can,” he says. “That’s really it.”

“It was a real shame that [David] and I couldn’t artistically move forward together,” Jones says. “The band had really become a well-oiled machine and was a lot of fun.” She has recorded several solo albums since leaving Sun 60, including 1998’s acclaimed Starlite Criminal. A regular performer at Arnold Palmer’s in La Quinta, CA, an injury kept her off the stage for most of 2012, but she’ll be back in action on New Year’s Eve. She also hopes to record next year.

Only is a record with a wide range of emotions, so it’s only fitting that Sun 60 shares that legacy for its creators. “Sun 60 is bittersweet for me,” Russo admits. “It was an unbelievable time for me and I was privileged to witness some magic that Joan created. She was a force of nature. A beautiful force of nature.”