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CD Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium

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Before I start this review, I’m just going to put it out there – I hate double albums. Well, most double albums anyway. Double albums always seem like a bloated attempt by some band to further increase their egos; “Look what WE did!”… and after a while of listening, it can get to be a bit too much.

The new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Stadium Arcadium can seem just a bit too much. Maybe it was because I listened to both discs through and through without any breaks. Regardless of this fact, I noticed something whilst listening; I began to feel like I was in some sort of coma. I was pulled into the world of Stadium Arcadium for those two hours and when the album was over, I still felt as though I was in that world.

Of course, a review can’t really be a review if it’s all positive, right? We here on planet Earth like to play Negative Nancy occasionally and nitpick the faults. So here it is: Stadium Arcadium is too much. It’s RHCP overload. Don’t get me wrong, Stadium Arcadium is a brilliant album but it shouldn’t have to span two discs and two hours to make that point.

Let’s get to the things that make this album brilliant. The funk is back! Stadium Arcadium serves up the funk that was missing in 2002’s By The Way. There’s “Hump De Bump” with it’s Freaky Styley opening to it’s awesome jazzy percussion, “She’s Only 18” spilling the sex appeal that was found on Mother’s Milk and “Storm in a Teacup” which believe it or not, sounds like it would have been at home on 1995’s One Hot Minute.

Stadium Arcadium is not as heavy as say, BloodSugarSexMagik. However, there is one track that injects the hair swinging rock that fans are going to love – “Readymade”. With an awesome guitar solo by John Frusciante and pounding drums by Chad Smith, this song would be one of the highlights if ever played in concert.

Front man Anthony Kiedis stated that he would most like to sing with John Frusciante out of anyone in music history and in this album, you can see why. Their voices greatly compliment each other. When Kiedis is singing, Frusciante is heard in the background with his trademark high vocals or doo woop influenced singing. Their collaboration is on show in such tracks as the swirling rock of “Turn It Again”, the slow funk of “Charlie” and the much calmer “Hey.”

Did anyone ever think the same man we saw sing a dangerously off-key take of “Soul to Squeeze” in the 1991 documentary Funky Monks would be singing beautifully in 2006? Stadium Arcadium sees Kiedis reach a new high with his ever-improving vocals. I thought it was impossible for a 43 year old to improve after a 20-year career but obviously not. Kiedis has the ability to send shivers up your spine with the By The Way influenced songs such as "Wet Sand" and "Slow Cheetah".

John Frusciante probably hates being called a genius, but who cares? He’s not going to read this anyway. So here it is: John Frusciante is a genius. Since returning to the band in 1998 after leaving in 1992, he has greatly affected the band’s writing process and influenced their sound. Starting with Californication, Frusciante has aided in a revolution of the band’s sound and continues to do so here. His Hendrix style guitar adds a vintage rock feel to the album. “Wet Sand” is reminiscent of the opening of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and the solo of “Dani California ” has Hendrix written all over it. His beautiful layering creates another dimension to the album, therefore creating a real Stadium Arcadium.

Flea is a student of punk music in the opening of “Torture Me” sounding like a Gang of Four track. He mixes it up on this album, playing the funky slap bass on tracks like "21st Century", to the quiet bass we heard on By The Way in "Especially in Michigan ”. Who could forget drummer Chad Smith? Smith’s light drumming on "Hard to Concentrate" compliments the song and Kiedis’ heartfelt vocals. However, it’s "Readymade" where he stands out – Smith will enjoy belting it out live.

Let’s keep the Negative Nancy role to a minimum here but I would have loved to see the funk songs outweigh the By The Way influenced tracks then the other way around. They say the funk is back, but not as much as I thought it was going to be. However, it’s a vast improvement from the previous album where it seemed to disappear all together.
The band stick to what they know here, which is not a bad thing. Stadium Arcadium displays all the styles of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Its The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Freaky Styley, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, Mother’s Milk, BloodSugarSexMagik, One Hot Minute, Californication and By The Way rolled all in one. After 23 years, who says you need to experiment with every new album? Do they continue to pump out brilliant music? You can bet your ass they do.

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About Jessa

  • Triniman

    Did you seem them on SNL this past weekend?

  • http://insiderealestatejournal.blogspot.com, Mr. Real Estate

    Great review! I’m definitely adding this one to my collection.

  • Orchid

    The two Stadium Arcadium albums were supposed to be two-thirds of a planned release of three albums each six months apart. Perhaps you would have felt less overwhelmed if they’d have stuck with the original release plan.

  • Klobb88

    I just bought the album today and i found it to be amazing. I never felt overwhelmed while listening to both cds in a row at all. The different types of songs and styles of music throughout the cd make it possible to just sit down in one sitting and listen to both cds and still be wanting more when they are done.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    This article has been placed at the Advance.net websites, a site affiliated with about 12 newspapers.

    One such site is here.

  • the Todd

    I found this album to be quite disappointing. It’s coma-inducing. I had such high hopes. Though I agree with the critic that it needed more funk than ballads, I can’t understand his (and other critics) put-down of By the Way, which I think is RHCP’s best ever. There is nothing THAT slow about By the Way, including Can’t Stop, Venice Queen, On Mercury, Throw Away your Television, etc. Though it’s not as funky as Magik, it has one thing that makes me love RHCP… catchy, catCHY, CATCHY, makes-me-want-to-sing-along choruses, even the ones on the slower ballads. There is precious few catchy stuff on this last album. Turn It Again is about the only song that’s good, and that has more to do with John’s violin-like, high-pitched guitar sound, which is great.

  • meik

    I disagree with probably every single word of this review. When they said the funk was back, i immediatly thought Out in L.A, Hollywood, even The Brothers Cup but no, they produced two whole cds of trying without succeeding to get back to their roots. Also i would also be callin by the way one of their best, because even listening to a song on that album for the first few times, you cant help singin it! its infectious man. While by the way had half as many songs, it still has more good ones. With stadium arcadiums good song count at probably 2. It seems to me like they rushed all 28 of the tracks.

  • Chris

    this cd is freaking sweet. i just have to say, i found something that i am very confused about. i got the cd yesterday and ripped it on to my pc. later when i was looking at it i noticed that the track order on the 2nd cd(mars) did not mach that of the music on the pc. later i was burning the cd for one of my freinds. since the order on my pc was screwed up i changed the order to mach that of the cd case.
    After it was burned i listened to it and noticed that the first song on the burnt cd was not the first song on the actual cd. so not only is the track order, that is on the back of the cd case, different from the order that the tracks r played on the cd, but i also found out that if u look at the lyrics in the booklet for disc 2, the lyrics do not mach up with the actual song being played on the cd. i dont no if the publishers made a big mistake, i am not seeing something here, or i am just crazy. SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://jessakay.blogspot.com Jessa

    First pressings of an album are most likely to be filled with errors.

  • http://www.thesearemychurchclothes.blogspot.com Tim

    Solid review. I’m still listening to the CD and will reserve my own review for later, but I do have to say that I absolutely LOVE Turn It Again. I think it may actually be better than Dani California

  • skeeter

    frusciante shreds

  • murph

    two discs is better because you get double rhcp instead of waiting a long time for the second album!!!

  • http://jessakay.blogspot.com Jessa

    You may be right about the double album thing, but in regards to RHCP, I somehow doubt that we’re going to be waiting less than 3 years for a new one.

  • stephanie

    i love u so much u r so hot

  • John

    I thought this cd was overwhelming in brilliance. Each song was completely different, whle most bands’ cds you hear nowadays that come out, a lot of the songs are all the frickin same. I also am so glad they made a double album. With a single 12 or 14 track album, I would not have been listening to it as much and as longer as I have been. It’s different if a lot of the songs suck or are all the same, but each song on this album is unique, varied, experimental and original, and I keep changing my opinion on which one is my favorite, After switching from “Charlie” to “21st Century” to “Slow Cheetah” I think I have finally concluded on “Especially in Michigan” being the most powerful and melodic song on the album. Amazing.

  • JP

    I don’t get it, may be it’s perhaps because I’m old and remember when this band used to be good; but this whole album(s) is some of the most boring formulated crap I ever heard; worse than the neuvo-Metallica albums. What a waste of musical talent, it’s actually depressing to see the pathetic cliche of fading pop culture.