Greatest Hits attempts to sum up the history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but its focus is firmly in the second half of their career. Early on, in the late 1980s, the Chili Peppers were an LA band who played a unique fusion of punk and funk--four guys, united by a love of partying and playing music. But they had a problem: although they were developing an underground following, nobody was buying their albums. Their first three albums failed to set the charts on fire, though they finally had a bit of a breakthrough with 1989's Mother's Milk. It wasn't enough--their label, EMI, dropped them.
EMI's A&R department must be kicking themselves now because the Red Hot Chili Peppers have since gone on to become one of the most popular bands in the world. Their next album. Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was a massive, worldwide hit, containing such huge singles as "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge". It's follow-up One Hot Minute was frankly a bit poor, but it hardly stalled their upward trajectory. These funky punks had matured and they found a whole new audience on albums such as Californication and By the Way. On them, there's the perfect marriage of playful innuendo, blistering musicianship (Flea is--quite rightly--considered one of the finest bassists in rock) and thoughtful songwriting. Greatest Hits focuses on these later years of the Chili Peppers' career (only the Stevie Wonder cover "Higher Ground" predates Blood Sugar ). It may not please all of their fans, but it's certainly a great starting point for the casual listener. --Robert Burrow
The success of Red Hot Chili Peppers begins when an unknown guitarist, John Fruciante, joined the band in 1988. The release of Mothers Milk helped break the group in America with their cover of the Stevie Wonder classic "Higher Ground". They soon became regulars on MTV and in the early 90s, as the underground moved into the mainstream, the Chili Peppers, like Nirvana, REM and Sonic Youth, benefited from this shift of music.
After the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik the Chili Peppers became one of the worlds biggest bands. The album spawned hits such as "Give It Away", "Under The Bridge" and "Suck My Kiss". Their sound was noisy and funky and grungy and to many fans this album was seen as their high point. Many believe that they have never been able to recapture that magic. But bands that stay stagnant and create the same sound album after album only end up like Oasis.
At the height of their success guitarist John Frusciante left and Dave Navaro was recruited as replacement. One Hot Minute was the sound of the band trying to recapture the sound of Blood Sugar Sex Magic and is seen as a low point in their career. Only "My Friends" appears from that period and for a while the world almost forgot about the Chili Peppers.
Then Dave left the band and John returned and in 1999 the band released Californication. The sound was softer and more melodic, yet they still retained that sound that made them, well them. "Scar Tissue", "Otherside" and "Californication" were without doubt Chili Pepper songs, but taken to a different place. Some thought they had sold out. But they hadn't sold out, they were evolving.
When By the Way was released last year the sound of the band had shifted further away form the bass lines of Flea to the guitar melodies of John. The album was based on The Smiths and Neu! instead of Gang of Four and Bad Brains.
The Chili Peppers have become a band famous for strong, anthemic songs rather than the punk-funk sounds characteristic of their early sound.
Personally I'm disappointed in the song selection as it favours Blood Sugar Sex Magic and Californication rather than being a well-balanced and truly representative sample from their back-catalogue. But as a hits compilation rather than a retrospective CD, it does what it says on the tin, and is an enjoyable listen in spite of the obvious track selections.
Review courtesy of 6 Music --Jack Smith
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1 x CD Compilation, Copy Protected
|1||Under The Bridge|
|2||Give It Away|
|5||Soul To Squeeze|
|7||Suck My Kiss|
|8||By The Way|
|10||Breaking The Girl|
|16||Save The Population|