2006 May Kerrang! (1107)

The Pandora cartoon refers to an early RHCP interview in Kerrang! which can be found HERE

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

STADIUM ARCADIUM

(WARNER BROS)

KKK

THE LAST few years have been difficult for the Chilis. Their chief songwriters, bassist Flea and guitarist John Frusciante, fell out when the latter took creative control over last album ‘By The Way’. So bad was the rift that Flea nearly left the band. They made things up and, according to them, entered a period of renewed creativity. This 28-song double album is the result.

A cynic might claim that the album’s length is due to the patched up nature of the pair’s relationship – no one daring to cut the number of the other’s songs down in case of another flare up. They obviously deny this, although John Frusciante did say recently that, if he’d had to, he would have shaved the album’s length, before tailing off: “But as everybody in the band’s happy…”

It means there are moments of genius and moments of exceptional tedium- both marked by Frusciante’s guitar. He says he’s been listening to a lot of Hendrix, Clapton and lommi and it shows. Whereas previously he allowed his chords and songwriting to do the talking, his notes dropping precisely on the beat, now he plays with absolute freedom. Unhinged, spectacular and cranked up solos spiral from almost every song, his creativity flashing like a diamond. But this is a problem too as, often, songs seem to simply be a vehicle for this, a plod waiting for his brilliance to enliven it.

Meanwhile, the album tips its hat to almost every version of every of the Chili Peppers over the last 15 years. There are songs that take ‘Californication’s blueprint further, others that could have sat on ‘By The Way’, and more than a few that would have fitted on ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’. And while they’re often brilliant in their own right, they sit awkwardly together.

But, undoubtedly, the album is a grower- one that offers rewards for the amount of time spent with it. There are hidden depths here, melodies that become more insistent and subtleties that reveal themselves from where they sit modestly beneath the surface. Still, it’s hard to shake off the feeling this could have been the greatest single album of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ career. With more judicious editing, this would have been their masterpiece and a celebration of yet another rebirth for the band. As it is, it’s simply good. That’s something of a disappointment when it comes to the Chilis.

DOWNLOAD:

‘Especially In Michigan’. ‘Hard To Concentrate”

FOR FANS OF: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

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