Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Heroes - Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Following on with my Heroes series of blogs, and only my second one relating to a group since the one I wrote about Rush, I'd like to dedicate this blog to another group. This time I'd like to write about a group for whom I have been a fan almost as long as I've been a fan of Rush. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock. The band consists of founding members Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Michael "Flea" Balzary (bass), alongside longtime drummer Chad Smith and recently added guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. (Wikipedia)

I first got into the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (RHCP) when I was roughly 19 years old. I listened to one of their albums Mother's Milk (1988) and became an instant fan. The singles Knock Me Down and their cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground struck a chord with me. I was (and still am) a massive fan of rock / funk / psychedelic / punk / ska fusion bands, including Janes's Addiction, Living Colour, 24/7 Spyz and Fishbone, and RHCP fitted into that fusion well.

It was evident that they were talented musicians. The guitar work from John Frusciante, including some amazing solos, the vocals and lyrics by Anthony Kiedis, all nailed by a super tight rhythm section in the form of Chad Smith and Flea (who is still my favourite rock bass player). On hearing this album, I decided to buy their back catalogue too.

If you're a new fan of the band or just haven't heard this particular album, then you seriously need to check it out. In my opinion, it is one of the defining albums in their history. The band finally gelled on this album, and everything just seemed to come together. It is quite simply one of their best ever studio albums (better in my opinion than the more critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums Blood, Sugar, Sex Magik and Californification).

I bought tickets to the Mother's Milk tour for Sheffield Arena, which was to be their first tour as a headlining act in the UK. Unfortunately, I got my dates wrong, and ended up missing the concert, which still annoys me to this day. I missed my chance to see one of my favourite bands on their meteoric ascension on their first ever headlining UK tour.

Throughout their history, there have been several changes of line-up, namely their guitarist and (earlier) their drummer. Anthony Kiedis and Flea are original members. Their original drummer Jack Irons left the band, but the drum stool has now been filled since Mother's Milk by the awesome Chad Smith.

Their original guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a drug overdose after the release of their third studio album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (highly recommended). One of his paintings appeared in the sleeve to the Mother's Milk album as a tribute. John Frusciante joined the band for the recording of Mother's Milk, despite not being overly familiar with the funk genre (but you'd never know this from the album, as he sounds completely at ease with the style - surely a testament to his phenomenal ability).

The current guitarist, and who recorded the new album I'm With You is called Josh Klinghoffer (who has worked with John Frusciante as a member of Ataxia, as well as The Butthole Surfers and Gnarls Barkley aka Cee-Lo Green amongst others).

When they released their new album entitled I'm With You, the band appeared on cinema screens throughout the world on August 30, 2011 live via-satellite from Cologne, Germany performing the entire new album in sequence along with various other hits. I was lucky enough to go and see this live performance at the Odeon cinema in Kettering. It was truly an amazing experience!

Their new album reminds me of Mother's Milk. Not in its sound or the songs, but in the fact that it seems like a defining album. The band have released their most mature and accessible album to date. Josh has slotted into the band and picked up easily from John Frusciante. Despite having big boots to fill (Frusciante is a very hard act to follow), and being the new member of one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, he has shown that he is a worthy member of the band. His live performance at Cologne for the release of the new album shows just how well he fits into the dynamics of the band. It was also obvious from the interviews with the band just how well they all get on on a personal level.

I have always admired their open love of their music and for each other, and their obvious respect for each other as musicians. As a band, they wear their hearts on their sleeve, and I love that about them.

One of the best bands on the planet.....I'm With You!

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