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100 Albums: "Stadium Arcadium" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Title: Stadium Arcadium
Released: 2006
Genre: alternative funk


There really isn't any other band quite like Red Hot Chili Peppers. Defined primarily by Anthony Kiedis's raps about sex and geography and the insane punk/slap bass playing of arguably-the-greatest-bassist-who-ever-lived Flea, RHCP's sound is a bizarre blend of not-quite-funk, not-quite-hip-hop, and not-quite-punk. It became one of the earliest things you could point to and call "alternative" back when we were all still trying to figure out what that word meant. Stadium Arcadium is the last album they recorded with their most successful lineup: Kiedis and Flea alongside drummer (and Will Ferrell doppelganger) Chad Smith and guitarist John Fruciante. The music was originally conceived to be released a series of EPs, but wound up being joined into a double-album with a total run-time of just over two hours.

Stadium Arcadium has the laid-back vibe of a record from band that's been doing this forever and is just really good at it by now. That's not to imply that it's low-energy. It bops and grooves and jumps along. The songs are generally brisk and short and there's not a bad track out of the twenty-eight. The radio singles are good, but my favorites are Charlie and Turn It Again, the latter being the longest song on the entire album by over half a minute and the one where Frusciante is allowed to just cut loose the most on. My only complaint is that at two hours long it's exhausting. RHCP albums always have lots of tracks, but somewhere around track 25 is where my attention starts to really wane, which is hilarious to me since Turn It Again is second-to-last and the closer Death Of A Martian is pretty excellent.

I had the opportunity to see them touring this record and it was a thoroughly engaging show. Stages exist so Flea can take them. However charismatic you think he might be based on music videos and recordings, he is even more so. The opening act was Gnarls Barkley. Helluva show.

Further Listening: Californication is a great record, and it was the first one they did when Frusciante re-joined after he quit the band the first time. It produced a number of singles, the most enduring of which is Otherside. Blood Sugar Sex Magic is not a very listenable album in my opinion, but it gave us Give It Away, Under The Bridge, Breaking The Girl, and Suck My Kiss, all of which still get radio play. And while it's considered something of an anomaly, I rather enjoy their album One Hot Minute. It was the only album recorded with Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, and while he was a poor fit for RHCP, the album is solid and memorable.

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