Hot One Minute
The band’s second studio album, ‘Freak Styley’, was produced by none other than funk legend George Clinton. The band suitably get loose and unleash singles, ‘Jungle Man’, ‘Catholic School Girls Rule’ and ‘Hollywood (Africa)’. Influenced by heavy heroin use, it was a wild and weird ride that, although failing to chart, showed their early unpredictable and wild edge. Punky, funky good times.
The band break through with their fourth album, ‘Mother’s Milk and their classic line-up of Anthony Kiedis (vocals), John Frusciante (guitar), Flea (bass) and Chad Smith (drums). They launch their edgy funk rock assault with spiky anthems such as ‘Knock Me Down’, ‘Taste The Pain’ and the energetic and outrageous Stevie Wonder cover ‘Higher Ground’. Steve Morse from ‘The Boston Globe’ called it a “high-octane fusion of metal, funk and rap- sort of Prince meets Jimi Hendrix in the Twilight Zone.” If The Germs and Prince had thrown a party together, ‘Mother’s Milk’ would be blasting and there’d be sex, beer and drugs wherever you looked.
With the legendary producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer, Run DMC) on board, he suggested the band relocate to a mansion that escape artist Harry Houdini once lived in, where the band stayed for the duration of the recording of their fifth album. However, Smith refused to stay, stating it was haunted and travelling there on his motorbike everyday. The resulting ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ made them superstars and won them millions of fans with funk/punk classics like ‘Give It Away’, ‘Suck My Kiss’, as well as the massive ballad ‘Under The Bridge’ (later covered by All Saints but don’t hold that against them).
A musical power struggle between Flea and Frusciante emerged, with the former wanting to reignite the energetic funk spark and the latter favouring slower, more introspective songs. Flea almost left the band but the pair managed to work out their differences. Sadly, 2002’s ‘By The Way’ shows Frusciante’s influence, with a subdued album full of dull ballads like the title track, ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Universally Speaking.’ By the way, we don’t give a shit. Giant lightbulb costumes and crazy bass slapping seems like a different lifetime. Was it time for the pipe and slippers?
Despite frontman Anthony Kiedis getting clean and laying down fan favourite ‘Fight Like A Brave’, he soon relapsed. Founding guitarist and Kiedis’ good friend Hillel Slovak died from a heroin overdose and drummer Jack Irons left saying he didn’t want to be in a band where his friends were dying. Somehow Kiedis and Flea battled through and survived the band’s darkest days, wanting to continue what Slovak had “helped build”.
With touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer replacing Frusciante as full-time member of the Chilis return for tenth album ‘I’m With You’. ‘Ethiopia’ and ‘Look Around’ prove a return to the funk infused rock of their glory days. Kiedis is now rocking a crazy ‘tache too so hopefully their music will become as insane as his lip fuzz. Maybe this is the start of the rediscovery of their trademark brilliance? Now, where are those lightbulb costumes?
Former Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro joined the band at their classic Woodstock ’94 performance. You know, the one where they all dressed as giant light bulbs? The following year saw the release of ‘One Hot Minute’, a more psychedelic rock flavoured release with hits like ‘Aeroplane’ and the cover of the Ohio Players ‘Love Rollercoaster’. The latter was used on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Beavis and Butthead Do America’ and the band were animated in the same style for the classic video. Huh, huh…cool.
After years in the wilderness and almost losing John Frusciante to heroin addiction, the classic line-up regrouped and refocused for a seventh studio album. While it sold many millions records and would become their biggest album, ‘Californication’ saw them lose touch with their rap/funk roots and favour a more straight-up melodic rock route on hit singles ‘Californication’, ‘Otherside’ and the huge ballad ‘Scar Tissue’. The band’s Woodstock ’99 performance was marred by vandalism, looting and rape. The album was a success but at what cost? The band wasn’t the crazy, funk/rap rock pioneers we knew and loved anymore.
How could things get worse? Despite huge commercial success (I’m guessing housewives) and awards, ninth record ‘Stadium Arcadium’ was a sprawling, bloated double album that was more likely to leave you snoring than getting in the pit. Who needs 28 songs on an album? ‘Dani California’ and ‘Hump de Bump’ were glimmers of hope but any fans of the band’s classic era were left enraged by this fucking tiresome effort. Obviously the band thought so too, going on an extended hiatus after touring.