Presented In association with Daddy Pop
In the beginning equal parts punk, funk and spunk, the Red Hot Chili Peppers didn’t seem like a good bet to make it intact out of the 1980’s, let alone become one of the world’s biggest rock bands. Propelled by Flea’s ridiculous, signature bass thump, over the course of eleven studio albums they’ve mined influences from Motown to Black Flag and all points in between, surviving in fighting and addiction to constantly keep getting one over on their critics. Here’s where to start:
You Must Have
Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik (EMI, 1991)
Previously thought of as too punk for daytime audiences and too funky for college radio, the modern day Peppers we know now were effectively created by the emotion drenched Under The Bridge, made by Anthony Kiedis playing it straight, John Frusciante’s sparing guitar and Rick Rubin’s sympathetic production. Here was a more mature writing set up, the results – including Give It Away, Breaking The Girl and Suck My Kiss – finally letting the world in on the band’s potent secrets.
Californication (Warner, 1999)
With a change in personnel seeing Dave Navarro drafted in, 1995’s One Hot Minute was coolly received in some quarters: chastened, it was four years before the release of its successor. Navarro’s departure may not have been the catalyst, but Californication set the tone for much of the band’s later work, the title track especially being one of those songs you could hear on almost any radio station anywhere on the planet. Once the likes of Scar Tissue, Porcelain and Purple Stain were added for the ride, there was simply no stopping it.
Stadium Arcadium (Warner, 2006)
Landing five of the seven Grammy nominations it received, this sprawling, two-hour opus remains RHCP’s finest twenty first century hour. On what would turn out to be Frusciante’s swan song, a wellspring of new ideas and old strengths combined to leave Stadium Arcadium’s 28 track span – especially Dani, California, Charlie and Slow Cheetah – almost flawless in execution and bearing the imprint of musicians with a refound zest for their craft.
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (EMI, 1987)
Listening back now reveals that all the tinder was there, just waiting for a spark. Their last release whilst still a genuine underground concern, Me And My Friends and Behind The Sun remain standouts – and its worth listening to if only for a remarkable take on Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues.
What Hits? (EMI, 1992)
A definitive summary of their EMI years – with Under The Bridge thrown in as a welcome added bonus – What Hits rarely misses it’s brief, kicking off with a barnstorming version of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground. Jimi Hendrix is also given the treatment on Fire, but it’s Fight Like A Brave, Knock Me Down and the epically charged Taste The Pain which make this compilation essential.
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Picture Credit: Red Hot Chilli Peppers