Hot Chili Peppers
By The Way
label: Warner Bros.
our score: 3.5 out of 5.0
It's an extremely
rare occurrence for a rock band to enjoy a great amount of popularity
in its early days, fall off the radar for a few years, then come
back and instantly become more popular than they'd ever been before.
During their early years, The Red Hot Chili Peppers were at the
edge of the popular rock envelope; their funk/rap/rock sound was
wholly original and their shocking behavior (socks on cocks, etc.)
was more than enough to draw the band increased attention as a
modern rock anomaly.
all this madness the band released their now-legendary ode to
smack, "Under the Bridge," and hardly a person in the
world was unaware of their presence. Still, with all the drugs
and band upheavals (out with Frusciante, in with Dave Navarro,
out with Navarro, back with Frusciante, etc.) the band nearly
lost itself in the struggle. But then something happened - they
released Californication, an album showcasing a more
mature Chili Peppers and which amazingly found the Red Hot Chili
Peppers sounding more like a band than they ever had before.
It was also
the album that blew the band up on modern rock radio more than
they had ever previously imagined.
years later, this aging rock foursome has returned with yet another
album, entitled By The Way. Featuring a rather large
collection of songs crafted in a similar style to Californication,
By The Way finds the band once again exploring everything
that's happened to them before and how it got them where they
Make no mistake,
this is not the Red Hot Chili Peppers of Freaky Styley
or The Uplift Mofo Party Plan - like any truly gifted
band By the Way exemplifies a much mature sound than
they'd created nearly 20 years before. There's still the invariably
impressive bass from Flea and ripping guitar from Frusciante,
but it's also ripe with orchestration and horns and sweeping electronics.
Basically it's aurally outstanding.
As a critic,
it can be extremely tempting to be a complete bastard to a band.
Going into listening to By the Way I was intent on tearing
this album apart - "It's pop-rock crap!" "It's
just Californication part two!" "They're getting
old and so is their music." Still, I couldn't help but be
drawn in by this disc. Sure, there are a few missteps (the ill-conceived
"Kill Your Television" and the latin-inspired and repetitive
"Cabron" - but besides these few forgivable mistreads
By the Way is absolutely one of the band's strongest
releases, if not their best yet.
said, for my review of By The Way I borrowed a copy of
the album from a friend. Remember, I didn't expect to like the
disc - so why would I buy it? (We couldn't get our mitts on a
promo). Tomorrow I'll be giving the disc back to him, and I'm
not planning on buying it for myself. I've never been a huge Chili
Peppers fan and despite all its positives, By The Way
still isn't enough to turn me.
Almost - but
liked By The Way...
1. By The Way
2. Universally Speaking
3. This Is The Place
5. Don't Forget Me
6. The Zephyr Song
7. Can't Stop
8. I Could Die For You
10. Throw Away Your Television
13. On Mercury
14. Minor Thing
15. Warm Tape
16. Venice Queen