Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I read that Flea had been listening to a lot of Rolling Stones records while working on the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, I'm With You (and Rolling Stone's review cited this fact also).  I would think that this was equal parts musical inspiration and "how did they do it?"

In other words: Mick and Keith have pretty much led the band since they took over the reigns from Brian Jones. But losing Jones was still a big deal, a big transition, for the band. After that, losing Mick Taylor was a big deal too.  But of course, The Rolling Stones have endured a number of key member changes.  So the question for the Red Hot Chili Peppers is: is new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer their Ron Wood -- the guy born to be a member of the group -- or is he their next Dave Navarro (i.e. guy who just isn't the right fit)?

(By the way, NO disrespect to Navarro, the album he did with RHCP, One Hot Minute, had some good songs, but it didn't quite work).

I've been listening to this album for a while, and I'm still having a hard time deciding.  I think it's a stronger album than say, One Hot Minute, but I'm not sure how many songs people will want to hear from this album when the Peppers are on tour in two or three years from now.  "Monarchy Of Roses" is a great opener, and would have been a way better first single than "The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" which just sounds too much like past Chili ballads.  I do think Josh Klinghoffer fits in pretty well.  He's definitely different from John Frusciante - he's less guitar hero guy and more about textures (which is kind of what he added as an extra touring member of the band a few years ago).

A ballad that sounds different from prior mellow tunes is "Brendan's Death Song," about a late friend of the band.  I think it's pretty powerful, Anthony Kiedis sounds like he's haunted by memories of people he's lost. It's not mellow depression, but real sadness, and it's soulful.  I also like the more upbeat, piano-driven "Happiness Loves Company."  Frusciante added keyboards to the mix, but he was definitely a guitar guy first.  I get the feeling that Josh Klinghoffer is ok playing anything, as long as it fits the song.

I guess I just wish that the songs here were more memorable.  I'm surprised that some of these got past Rick Rubin, who usually won't let a band hit the studio until the songs are tight enough.

But the Chili Peppers is one of my favorite bands ever, and I'm loyal.  I'll look at I'm With You as Josh Klinghoffer's Mother's Milk - his intro to the group, and hopefully they have something like a Bloodsugarsexmagik or Californication left in them... or at least another By The Way. For now, I'm looking forward to seeing this version of the band live, and seeing how the new songs hold up to the classics in concert.  I think maybe the band would have benefitted from actually doing some shows with Josh before making the record.

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