on 16 April 2006
First off, I'd like to state that I'm not a RHCP mega-fan. Having said that, this album is my favourite album, by anyone, ever. It's also worth saying that if you consider yourself an avid Chili Peppers fan on the basis of 'By The Way' then don't bother with this album. You will have probably heard 'Under The Bridge' and read that this album is their greatest offering, (which is true) therefore will expect more of the same mellow type material as heard on 'By The Way,' and the aforementioned mega-hit off this album. You will be bitterly disappointed. This album is funk metal through and through, and the singing is mostly in the rap style. So.... if you're open minded, and want to know what the true Chili Peppers are all about, read on.
The Chili Peppers first 2 albums, (self titled and Freaky Styley) sound to me like nothing more than kinda enjoyable but very amateurish funky jam sessions. It came together in a big way with 'Uplift' with far superior melodies and actual songs! That album, and the subsequent 'Mothers Milk' (which was the first album with the current line-up, and the same line-up as on BSSM) had many a highlight, and I love those albums too. However, BSSM was a giant leap in every respect. With Rick Rubin at the production helm this album sounds like real funk rock pros who know they're at the top of their game, and they set out to create their greatest work. They succeeded totally.
Every single track, with the exception of 'They're Red Hot' (which was obviously intended as a joke throwaway, so it's forgivable) is a 10* winner. Tracks 1 & 2 flow seamlessly together to create an amazing opening medley of pure funky rock with soaring choruses, and cutting lyrics. Flea slapping his base like never before, John playing in a far heavier style than we're used to now and Chad anchoring it all down with some of the clearest drumming ever recorded. Along with 'Under The Bridge', (and to an extent 'I Could Have Lied') 'Breaking The girl' is the other all out "slow" track and is equally as great as its more famous cousin. The lyrics aren't as good, but the music is better, with Chad banging out a solo on scrap metal. Bizarre but perfect, it's a beautiful track.
I'm not gonna review every track, but suffice to say, most of the rest of the album continues in the same funk rock vein as set out in the first 2 tracks. 'Funky Monks' is one of my favourites, with an explosive guitar solo from John, which I relish all the more, cos I know he'll probably never lay down such a sound again, (here's hopin with Stadium Arcadium!!). Of course everyone knows 'Give It Away' and it is undeniably superb, but IMHO not the best funk rock song on this album by a long shot. For me, the title track outstrips it, as does 'The Righteous And The Wicked' with its ace bass riff and powerful chorus. 'My Lovely Man' is another highlight, as it's a lyrically beautiful tribute to the late great Hillel Slovak, their original guitarist, and sonically a great rocker, with John yet again unleashing an amazing extended guitar solo. Also of note is 'Naked In The Rain' which is unremarkable, compared to the rest of the album, (which means that it's still great) but it does contain an awesome slap bass solo from Flea, which really rocks. Hard.
For me, the real last track of the set, and the best, is 'Sir Psycho Sexy' and it's a brilliant way to finish. Yes, the lyrics are pornography in an audio form, but even on 'By The Way' the lyrics are pure filth, (not to this extent, granted) so it's what the Chilis are all about, only on this track they take it to the extreme! The first half of the song is a funk rave-up, in the style of most of the rest of the rest album, but then just over half way through, it breaks down into for me what is the most beautiful music on the whole album, (not acoustic like 'Under The Bridge' etc. but simply music that floats, in a tripped out manner). It's a classic Chilis song.
Again, I implore you to steer clear, if you're a hardcore 'By The Way' fan and expect this to be similar. It isn't really anything like 'By The Way'.... having said that, if your favourite track off 'By The Way' is 'Can't Stop' then you may want to give this a spin. It's a long album though, and heavier than 'Can't Stop' but don't dismiss it; endure and hopefully you'll get to love it as I do. It angers me to some extent how few songs were included off this album on their greatest hits album. You'd be better off buying 'What Hits!?' 'Greatest Hits' and BSSM. It really is their best album.
A seminal release. Cheers for reading.