Where To Start With... Red Hot Chili Peppers
The last time we heard from Los Angeles funk-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers was back in 2016 when the band released their 11th studio album The Getaway, an album that saw them break from their 25-year tradition of working with legendary producer Rick Rubin and turn instead to Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton to help them craft their latest LP.
Six years on, the Chilis return this week with their 12th full-length offering, Unlimited Love, on which there are a couple of big changes afoot. The first is that the band have reverted to working once again with Rick Rubin for their new album, which has been recorded at Rubin’s famed Shangri-La studio in Malibu over the last couple of years.
The second big change, of course, is that guitarist John Frusciante has returned to active duty on Unlimited Love, replacing Josh Klinghoffer, who appeared on The Getaway and its 2011 predecessor I’m With You. Frusciante rejoined in December 2019 and the changeover was, by all accounts, a very amicable one, with Klinghoffer saying: "It's absolutely John's place to be in that band ... I'm happy that he's back with them." Frusciante is now in his third stint with the band, having made his debut on their 1989 album Mother’s Milk after the death of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak the previous year.
Frusciante’s return sees the band revert to their ‘classic’ line-up and, in the eyes of many fans, one that has produced their best work. The chemistry between them has evidently lead to a prolific period of writing, with the band having reportedly amassed a huge amount of new songs before selecting 17 of them for the new album.
From the squelching funk of ‘Poster Child’ to the searing guitar chops on 'Black Summer', Unlimited Love finds the band back to their best. The new album is available in stores now and you can find the video for ‘Poster Child’ below. Beneath that we’ve selected five of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ finest tunes to date to get you in the mood…
'Give It Away'
Blood Sugar Sex Magik was the album that transformed the Red Hot Chili Peppers from funk-rock also-rans into a near-permanent fixture on the charts and perhaps more than any other track, 'Give It Away' represents the perfection of their style, condensed into three and a half perfectly funky minutes. It earned the band a bunch of Grammy nominations, including a win for 'Best Rock Vocal Performance'.
'Under The Bridge'
As much as we wanted to try and pick no more than one song from each of the Chilis' albums, we could hardly leave out 'Under the Bridge'. An ode to heroin addiction, the song established guitarist John Frusciante as one of the band's most creative forces and the song's crossover success proved that there was more to the band than funk-rock jamming and shouty lyrics.
After Frusciante's struggles with the band's sudden success and rising tensions between him and Kiedis, the guitarist abruptly quit the band and was replaced by former Jane's Addiction axeman Dave Navarro. The latter only appearred on one album, 1995's One Hot Minute, but there were a few gems on there and 'Areroplane' is the best of the bunch.
The return of John Frusciante heralded a new era of creative and commercial success for the band and Californication would become the Chilis' biggest-selling album to date, yielding several hits including the title track and this little number, which is the perfect illustration of why Frusciante's guitar playing was such a key component to their sound for so many years.
Or final pick is this beauty from the band's 2002 album By The Way. If you were to distill the essence of everything the band is about into one track, it would be this. A glorious slice of funk rock that stands up against their best work.