Stadium Arcadium

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Warner Bros., 2006

http://redhotchilipeppers.com

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/14/2006

The hype over a new Chili Peppers album overshadowed the actual music itself, so now that some time has passed it’s worth checking out the double disc to see if it’s as good as it seemed.

 

And it's safe to say that this is easily the best release from this L.A. bunch since 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

 

What I just can’t seem to wrap my head around is the critics who said this would be any lesser band's greatest hits collection but then carp about the lack of cohesion. The Chili Peppers are not Pink Floyd, people. There is no concept or theme here, just 28 individual songs that are all pretty incredible.

 

Song placement is important, but it's not an issue here as some would have you believe. Some have attacked this disc for getting off to such a slow start, but "Dani California," "Hump De Bump" and "Charlie" are anything but ballads. And if you listen to this just to get the singles, you are really missing the point. It's the album tracks that make this one so good.

 

In fact, you won't find the highlight until after about two hours, when "Turn It Again" comes in, a vintage funk piece combined with a hair-raising chorus and one of the greatest Frusciante solos ever recorded, if not one of the best guitar solos of the year.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

 

Other strong points include “She’s Only 18,” “Make You Feel Better” and “Storm In A Teacup.” On the latter, the Chilis return to their roots with a one of the most hardcore funk songs that they’ve done since anything on Mother's Milk, and it's good to have that element of the band's sound back. “She’s Only 18” boasts a signature Flea bassline juxtaposed with some wah-wah funk guitar, reminiscent of BSSM’s “Sir Psycho Sexy.” It finishes with yet another mind-bending solo, proving Frusciante is every bit the catalyst of the band's sound as Flea or Anthony Kiedis.

 

Along with the aforementioned, songs like “Warlocks,” “21st Century” and “So Much I” kick out grooves that take you back to the good old days. It is quite a surprise considering what direction the band was headed following their past two albums, which seemed to sink more often than not into adult pop territory first mined with "Under The Bridge." Some of those slower songs are here too, of course, but they fit nicely with the rock and funk.

 

I'd also argue with the fact that this is a culmination of the band's efforts since forming in 1983. In fact, Stadium Arcadium shows a band that continues to grow; “Especially In Michigan” is obviously influenced by The Mars Volta, a modern prog-rock band that Frusciante maintains a close relationship with, and it has one of the most addictive riffs on the entire album. On “Hey” the foursome make their first foray into jazz-influenced music, and they take a page out of Pink Floyd’s book with “We Believe” and “Death Of A Martian.”

 

The musicianship is absolutely astonishing. Flea continues to be the absolute greatest rock n’ roll bassist of all time. But Frusciante really steps up and delivers what I think is the best all-around performance on a guitar rock album since Johnny Greenwood on The Bends. Combining quality of riffs, arrangements, overdubs, variations on tones...it really doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Ultimately, what you’re left with is 28 songs and zero filler. There is something for everyone in every single track. I’m not just saying this as a Peppers fan, but as a music fan in general. Please do yourself a favor and go get this now.

Rating: A

User Rating: B-


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© 2006 Brian Birnbaum 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.