Edited by Brett Buchanan
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers are riding high and looking to the future with the release of their 11th album, the Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton produced The Getaway, Alternative Nation has decided to take a look back through the Chili Peppers discography at some lesser known, funktastic, brilliant jams. While die hard Chili Pepper fans will be sure to know these classics, to music lovers more familiar with the likes of Under The Bridge, Dani California and Californication, these songs can help provide a fresh perspective to a band some fans may not be as familiar with.
10. Mellowship Slinky In B Major
To an entire generation, Blood Sugar Sex Magik is known as the album that launched the Chili’s from rising underground favorites, to the face of an alternative movement. On the unprecedented strength of Give It Away and Under the Bridge, BSSM was and is a behemoth. Mellowship Slinky starts with a laid back, overdriven guitar line by on-again-off-again Chili Peppers mastermind John Frusciante. From there the song takes on the full funk attack with sleek, laid back funky verses, Charles Bukowski references, and one of John Frusciante’s finest guitar solos on an album loaded with them. Mellowship Slinky perfectly represents “Chill” in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Anyway you cut it, 1995’s One Hot Minute, the bands only album featuring Jane’s Addiction axeman Dave Navarro on guitar, always gets overlooked. While most of the songs have been absent from concert setlists over the past two decades, the album contains some fantastic cuts. None better than Walkabout. Arguably the funkiest song to feature Navarro on guitar, its classic Chili Peppers: A smooth, steady Chad Smith backbeat, Anthony Keidis effortlessly flowing through the verses with an instantly relatable vulnerability, slick guitar work reminiscent of Frusciante and original Chili Peppers guitarist Hilell Slovak and Flea tying it all together with a punching walking bassline tying it all together. One Hot Minute may not be the greatest Chili Peppers album, but Walkabout is its greatest song.
Charlie is one of those songs that when you hear the first two notes, you immediately know who the band performing it is. The Stadium Arcadium standout arguably had the potential to be another enormously successful single off of this album. I have sometimes questioned the choices made by the band for singles, or the singles chosen for them by the record label. Either way Charlie, with its incredibly funky bass intro and top of the line vocal harmonies between Keidis and Frusciante on the chorus, is a complete masterpiece.
7. Storm In A Teacup
Where some of Stadium Arcadium’s twenty-eight songs seem to blend together, Storm In A Teacup stands out like a literal storm. There are moments in this song reminiscent of Chili Pepper’s previous moments. Anthony Keidis adlibs leading into the verses are reminiscent of their cover of Love Rollercoaster as well as the verses themselves sounding like a more polished version of a Freaky Styley B-Side. And there is nothing not to like about that.
6. Factory Of Faith
I believe when people look back years from now on the career of the Chili’s, I’m With You will be viewed more as a transition, and less of an album. For the second time in their history, RHCP were making an album with a new guitarist replacing John Frusciante. With One Hot Minute and Dave Navarro, it was clear a change was in the air, made apparent by that album’s first single, Warped. This time, with Josh Klinghoffer, a more spiritual successor to John Frusciante, the style wasn’t such a stretch, but the album lacked energy and cohesiveness. One area where the Chili’s absolutely shine on this album is Factory Of Faith. The album’s second track should have been, in my opinion, the lead single from the album. Everything about Factory Of Faith screams Chili Peppers. And at a time where their identity seemed to be a somewhat unknown, unleashing this song on the masses may have ultimately pushed I’m With You to a higher level of commercial success as well as keeping people from sleeping on the Chili’s.
5. Johnny Kick A Hole In The Sky
The Chili Peppers are no strangers to fresh beginnings. And no fresh beginning proved to be more important than 1989’s Mother’s Milk, which welcomes John Frusciante and Chad Smith to the fold. The “classic” version of the Chili Peppers was upon us. While the band’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground proved to be the high point of the album and push them towards mainstream recognition, it is the last track on the album that provided the biggest, most fun moments of the album. Most great Chili Peppers songs are driven by the relentless bass playing of Flea and this is no different. Along with a brief rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and 70’s style female background vocals in the chorus, Johnny Kick A Hole In The Sky proved that in fact, the sky was the limit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
4. Purple Stain
1999’s Californication was a landmark album for the Chili Peppers. With the return of John Frusciante, the band eclipsed their early 90’s success on the back of powerhouse singles Scar Tissue, Otherside, and the album’s title track. The album is pepperer, pardon the pun, with classic Chili Peppers moments, but none hit the spot better than Purple Stain. The track serves as a bridge of sorts to the Peppers of old and new. Anthony Keidis’ shout out to John Frusciante adds to the joy of celebrating that this band was once again firing on all cylinders.
The trio of early Red Hot Chili Peppers albums can be something of a mixed bag. While certainly laying the groundwork for what was to come, some tracks in retrospect can sound unfocused and not quite fleshed out. This cannot be said of Jungleman. The pounding downbeat of the main riff is almost hypnotic in how it draws you into the controlled chaos of the early Chili Peppers gem. The highpoint of 1985’s Freaky Styley, it’s hard to decide if Flea’s bouncing bass or Anthony Keidis’ delivery provides the highlight of the song. On second thought, the highlight is probably original guitarist Hillell Slovak’s frenetic guitar solo.
2. The Righteous and The Wicked
There is something to be said about a band who can almost effortlessly bounce between multiple genres. The gift of the Chili Peppers is how they can do it within the context of a single song. The Righteous and The Wicked, from 1991’s landmark Blood Sugar Sex Magik spends equal time in the land of funk, alternative rock and heavy metal. It also does a great job of showcasing the musicianship of the three instrumentalists of the band. What puts this track a notch above the rest is the fantastic vocal interplay of John Frusciante and Anthony Keidis during the chorus. It is truly the most wicked song on the band’s wickedest album.
Released as the B-Side to One Hot Minute‘s My Friends, Stretch is a frustrating listen because of its greatness. How was this not put on the album!?!? Flea dominates One Hot Minute, but this bass line! It has everything a Chili Peppers fan can want: the bass and Dave Navarro at his Chili Peppers finest. The band and Anthony Keidis sound so inspired on this track, I will never understand why it was not part of the album.