By Andrew Wedderburn
The Red Hot Chili Peppers perfectly merge old and new in the emotional roller coaster that is Stadium Arcadium.
Most people who have been fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for as long as I have are aware of their dramatic change in musical direction between their 90’s albums their 2000’s albums. This split led to the fan base becoming somewhat polarised with the 90’s fan base claiming that they “sold out” after the release of Californication which included songs like “Scar Tissue” and “By the Way” that had a much larger main stream appeal due to their simplistic melodies and easy to relate to lyrics. While fans of their newer stuff often claim that they are simply unable to relate to the “in your face” hard-core funk of many of RHCP’s earlier tracks like “Give it Away” and “Suck my Kiss”.
Stadium Arcadium is their 2006 album which comes with two CD’s (titled Jupiter and Mars) and consists of a whopping 28 tracks. It was released under Warner Brothers Records and Produced by industry veteran Rick Rubin. It made sense for the Chili Peppers to go with Rubin as not only is he one of the most prolific producers in the business who has produced albums in almost every genre and style imaginable he has also produced every RHCP album since Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Unsurprisingly Stadium Arcadium debuted at the number one position of 10 national album charts including the US, the UK and Australia.
While I do have a slight preference for the Chili Peppers funkier stuff I have enjoyed almost every piece of music that they have produced (I’m with You excluded of course) and it is for that very reason that I so thoroughly enjoyed Stadium Arcadium. In what I believe to be one of the best decisions of their careers the Chili Peppers decided to incorporate of all of the various musical styles in this album, with tracks like “Warlocks”, “Hump de Bump” and “Turn it again” which are so funky they’ll turn your face purple as well as tracks like “Hard to Concentrate”, “She Looks to Me” and “Stadium Arcadium” which have soothing melodies and sad lyrics that pretty much everyone can relate to.
Now if they had stopped their Stadium Arcadium would have still been a really good album but they also added choose to add tracks like “Wet Sand” that include some extremely radical change ups where they style will change from old to new or vice versa and in doing so creating a totally fresh and new sound which I really hope to hear more of in future releases. The best example of this new style is evident in the song “Death of a Martian” which initially starts off as a song about the death of Flea’s (bass) dog and then just when you think the song is over it transitions into the recitation of poem that Kiedis (Vocals) had written in his youth.
It is difficult to pick out notable tracks in this album since almost all of them are objectively perfect so instead I will point some of my personal favourites. Firstly “Warlocks”; not only is this my favourite song from the album this one of my favourite songs of all time. Never have I heard bass and vocals work in such amazing unison with lyrics “subterranean marching band” and “two big bags of old Japan” that make me feel I’m listening in my own personal wonderland. Another one of my favourites was “She’s only 18”, not only because it is a great song with some classic 70’s inspired guitar riffs that Frusciante pulls off with his while adding his own trademark style but it also reminds me (and I’m sure a few other guys) of the first girl I dated who was a few years younger than me.
Unfortunately with an album this big there a bound to be a few duds and as such there a songs like “Readymade” and “Animal Bar” where the Chili Peppers start to indulge a bit too much in their mainstream appeal and become little too generic and repetitive.
This is indisputably the best RHCP album to date with great tracks that you can listen to time and time again to take away your own personal meaning. I would recommend to old fans and newcomers a like.