- 08 Jun 21
22 years ago today, Red Hot Chili Peppers released their iconic seventh studio album, Californication. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting our original album review – published in Hot Press in 1999...
Already being hailed as a mighty return to form and a worthy successor to the groundbreaking Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik, Californication sees the Red Hot Chili Peppers back on the block and re-energised. The return to the fold of guitarist John Frusciante, who played a crucial part in their mainstream breakthrough, clearly helps matters, while Rick Rubin's controlled production shines through.
If there is a shift in emphasis here it's a subtle dilution of the band's long familiar and occasionally hackneyed punk/funk agenda to encompass a more considered, melodic song-based approach. Which is not to say that it doesn't "kick ass" when it wants to. The opening cut, 'Around The World', maintains the RHCP's familiar syncopated grind, while the white-hot rap/funk of 'Get On Top' is as hard-hitting as they've ever been. One of the album's standout tracks, the short but frantically paced 'Right On Time', blends a bassline nicked from Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' with a breakneck riff. On the other hand, the current single 'Scar Tissue' echoes the restrained mellowness of their best known number 'Under The Bridge'.
Elsewhere there are signs of a world-weary maturity. The title track is almost apocalyptic in its evocation of The Golden State - the line about the earthquakes being "just another good vibration/ tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication," demonstrating deft lyrical skill. The uncharacteristically wistful 'Porcelain' is something of a new departure for the band – Anthony Kiedis has rarely sounded so mellow and dreamy – while the hippie drippy folksiness of the closing track 'Road Trippin' is positively whimsical.
Makes you wonder what Beavis & Butthead would make of it all.