RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS By The Way (2002 UK 16-track CD album - the Chili Peppers are among the elder statesmen in US rock circles now. This is their 8th album and shows a band comfortable with their sound. Mixing their trademark rap/rock/funksoundwith newer elements of soul and even latino! Includes the single By The Way picture sleeve)
The problem Anthony Kiedis and his supremely dysfunctional musical family faced when beginning work on their eighth album, By the Way
, wasn't so much how to top (or even compare) to the critical and commercial euphoria of 1999's superb Californication
, but more how to avoid the comedown that followed their other highpoint--Blood Sex Sugar Magik
--where One Hot Minute
turned into several long years that nearly finished them. They decided, it seems, to just shut their eyes, press pedal to metal and continue as before. It's worked magnificently--no small thanks to the canny production of Rick Rubin again and the cohesive gelling Frusciante back into what has now emerged as a tight, focused unit (despite the album being, as ever, about five songs too long--"Midnight" and "Minor Thing" for instance). Minor quibbles though, for when the Chili Peppers are average, they still tower over most other bands.
"By The Way", by far not the best cut here (those would be the quite wonderful "Tear" and widescreen "Don't Forget Me"), picks up where Californication left off, but is not representative of an album that frequently revisits the sunshine harmonies of "Road Trippin'" and desolate landscape of "Scar Tissue". Endlessly surprising and hugely engaging, the Chili Peppers have opened their eyes and found themselves with a another great record on their hands, solidifying both themselves as a group and their position as one of the world's best rock bands. --Ben Johncock