Stadium Arcadium

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Warner Bros., 2006

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


It takes balls to release an album like Stadium Arcadium.

Up to this point I had never listened to a Peppers album, but I knew of their sparse album release record. This is their ninth record of all original music in a 20-year career, which alone would make this special. But this sucker clocks in at 28 tracks and two hours.

This is the primary barrier to fully enjoying Stadium Arcadium. The long running time, by most standards, means there is so much material that you can't get through the discs in one sitting. It was 45 minutes here, 30 there, and so on. And like many double albums, there is no good reason for that much material. It can try the patience, which is a shame.

What's really fascinating about Arcadium is that there is no concept, no story, nothing to hold the songs together. This is by far one of the longest rock albums I have listened that lacked those cohesive elements. The only rival LPs that come to mind for me are Electric Ladyland and The White Album, but even those records have this feeling of unity. With Stadium Arcadium, you get the feeling these are just 28 wholly independent tracks that could have been arranged in no particular order. Ironically, this ends up being the album's strongest *and* weakest point.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As I mentioned previously, this was my first experience listening to a Red Hot Chili Peppers album, and it was quite enjoyable. First off, the production from Rick Rubin was tremendous; the sound is crisp and clear, the harmonies sparkle, it is a perfect summer record (too bad the weather here in Wisconsin won't cooperate). Also, with the enormous amount of material, the listener gets to hear all sorts of different kinds of music.

The Peppers original brand of funk/rock thankfully is not ignored on Stadium Arcadium, providing the album with a strong foundation. Tracks like "Hump De Bump" and "Storm In A Teacup" feature some of the best beats to come out of rock in a long time; I was consistently wowed by Flea's bass work.

Funky music is what people expect from the Peppers, so I was curious to see what else they could offer. With 28 tracks, it was an awful lot. "Dani California" provides the album's best track, hands down. Driven by a pulsating beat, monstrous riffs, and spitfire lyrics from Anthony Kiedis, the song makes for the perfect summer single. The title track is a soaring melodic piece of alternative rock, a genre the band mines fairly well throughout Stadium Arcadium. "Slow Cheetah" is a relatively understated affair, propelled by the soaring harmonies and acoustic guitar work from John Frusciante.

It is Frusciante who carries this album. The sounds that come from his guitar are brilliant, drawing from all over the map. Whether it's the Hendrix-inspired " Turn It Again," the Jimmy Page-sounding "If," or his multiple excursions into the blues, Frusciante never ceases to amaze. His rapport with Flea is truly something to behold. Kiedis is no slouch, sounding at times like a young Ian Anderson, and he makes up for his lack of range with conviction.

There are some truly glorious moments on Stadium Arcadium that managed to send chills down my spine. The thrilling climax to "Wet Sand," after the intense build up of the track, explodes into a soaring chant backed by what I can only describe as a harder version of George Harrison's "Piggies." "Death Of A Martian," is probably the best tribute to a dead pet I could think of, drawing from the space-rock of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. The soaring background vocals on "Snow (Hey Oh)" make it worth listening to for them alone.

I've been listening to Stadium Arcadium non-stop since it was released. At first, I didn't anticipate plowing through 28 tracks, but that quickly changed. Yes, it is a long album, and it probably shouldn't have been. But I'll be damned if I have heard a set with such length maintain such a high level of quality in a long time. Stadium Arcadium, provided you have the time, offers a wealth of treasures.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B-



© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Bros., and is used for informational purposes only.