By Robert Breckenridge
Arizona Daily Wildcat
I was introduced to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1986, when a friend of mine gave me their album Freaky Styleyas a gift. I didn't particularly like it at the time, but then I was a Replacements/HÅsker DÅ fan. In 1987, while living in upstate New York, my friend Chris Adams convinced me to drive to Syracuse to see them play. They were good and had a drug-induced frenzy about them which inspired me to buy The Uplift Mofo Party Plan album which stands as my favorite RHCP LP to date. I saw them again in 1989 or 1990 in Phoenix at a festival concert at Big Surf. This was a bit more disappointing. While their album at the time, Mother's Milk, wasn't too bad, their performance was a little tired and contrived. And, by this point, the band was attracting hundreds of obnoxious fans. As I hear it, these problems have only escalated.
One Hot Minute is not a particularly good album. In fact, I don't like it much at all. A few songs, like "One Big Mob," do recall some of the rock enthusiasm associated with their early albums, but, for the most part, the songs are quite lackluster. Although I can hope that none of the singles from this record will be as grating as either "Give It Away" or "Under the Bridge," "Warped" is certainly better than either of these. While Flea is a superior bass player and has pleasantly forsaken some of the self-indulgent funk stylings on this album, the record is not a musical masterpiece. The acquisition of Dave Navarro as a guitar player only adds a trite, hard rock sound to the songs a sad development after the unique, untrained style of John Frusciante. Additionally, the use of Rick Rubin as a producer does nothing for the record; he made a bland record last time and does it again. As I understand it, a great deal of emotional baggage was opened to produce the lyrics for the songs on this album, but it is not evident to these ears. At one point in the song "Coffee Shop" there is a lyric which states something like, "Let's go down to the coffee shop/we can dance like Iggy Pop." No, I'm sorry, Iggy Pop will not dance to this song.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are not wretched. They have made some good songs in the past and seem to have a sincere desire to play music. They are also willing to take ethical stances and harangue their more unpleasant fans. This is good. But this record is not. Fans will not be disappointed, but for funk-inspired rock, look to the Minutemen or the Big Boys. Or, buy The Uplift Mofo Party Plan before you buy this album.
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