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The way forward
Hot Press was granted an exclusive preview listen to so-new-it's-not-even-finished-yet Red Hot Chili Peppers LP By The Way, due out on July 8th. Peter Murphy gives us the rundown
Peter Murphy, 17 May 2002
Ahead of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ forthcoming Lansdowne Road show on June 25th, Hot Press has been granted an Irish exclusive preview of the band’s new album By The Way.
The record, the quartet’s eighth, sees them drawing even further away from the graphic rap-metal fusion that spawned a million body-pierced imitators, a change telegraphed by the band’s 12-million selling 1999 sleeper Californication. Of the as-yet-unsequenced twelve tracks Hot Press has heard, only the flagship single ‘By The Way’ employs the polyrhythmic sex-funk of old, albeit tempered by a keen melodic sensibility and even the odd cheesy vocoder effect.
Elsewhere, on ‘Cabron’, the combo dabble in strumalong flamenco – sort of Joaquin Cortez in stackheels – as well as applying their legendary chops to the kind of heavyweight bluebeat more commonly associated with Fishbone (‘Lemon Trees On Mercury’) and even throwing some prime Motown shapes (‘Universally Speaking’).
Singer Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics are largely intro- and retrospective, and key tracks such as ‘Don’t Forget Me’, ‘Venice Queen’ and ‘Midnight’ rely on smouldering atmospheres, with the rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith concentrating on subtle dynamics rather than funk-metal flash. Similarly, guitarist John Frusciante avoids fretboard pyrotechnics, contributing simple, repetitive chiming breaks and the occasional acoustic Jimmy Page-style flourish.
But among the album’s most surprising elements are the stacks of Beach Boys harmonies – indeed, one big money production number entitled ‘Tear’ comes straight from the Brian Wilson songwriting masterclass.
By The Way, due for release on Warner Music on July 8th, was again produced by Rick Rubin (The Beastie Boys, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash), who also helmed the band’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute and Californication albums, and features photographs and art direction by Basquiat director Julian Schnabel.