1995/12 Musician

Many thanks to Hamish at RHCP Sessions for the scans

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

One Hot Minute

(WARNER BROS.)

STOUT-HEARTED WARRIORS that they are, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have not grown complacent with success, judging from the existential restlessness of One Hot Minute. This dense, ambitious album has flaws, but a lack of commitment isn’t one of them: Anthony Kiedis and company stalk Truth and Beauty with an obsessive yearning lggy Pop would admire. Indeed, Kiedis’ invocation of the lg on “Coffee Shop” is fitting, since the old man pioneered the Peppers’ strategy of seeking spiritual fulfillment through corporeal excess.

Eager to prove themselves enlightened party animals, the dudes celebrate the inner self, strolling in quest of meaning on the drolly laid-back “Walkabout,’ and recalling youthful indiscretions in the furious ‘Deep Kick,” concluding philosophically that it’s better to sin than to not live at all. Tilting at¬†intolerance, Kiedis blasts organized religion on “Shallow Be Thy Game,” coolly baits a “homophobic redneck dick” in “Pea,” and advocates nothing less than the Golden Rule with “One Big Mob.” Righteous!

However charismatic their portrayal of idealistic renegades, the lads are less persuasive in strictly musical terms. While Jane’s Addiction refugee Dave Navarro (the Pep-per? 37th guitarist) has moments of flashy brilliance, his playing often lacks warmth. Meanwhile, Rick Rubin’s detail-oriented production emphasizes individuals rather than the group; the sizzling title track is one of the few times the quartet hits a collective groove.

Stronger material would render other complaints moot. Hard tunes tend to be eruptions of noise rather than genuine songs, although they’ve wisely given up trying to play genuine funk, at least. Taking a cue from the breakthrough hit “Under the Bridge,’ appealing sweet ‘n’ sour ballads such as “Tearjerker” and ‘Transcending” suggest a mellower brand of profundity may be the wisest course.

From superior taste in influences to savvy videos to general intangibles of image, the Chili Peppers’ renown may owe more to peripherals than to the music itself. On the positive side, Kiedis and crew obviously feel a responsibility to do right by their audience, given the inspirational bent of One Hot Minute and relative absence of star arrogance. Such good intentions make everything easier to take.
Jon Young.