Red Hot Chili Peppers – Greatest Hits (2003)

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by Mark Saleski

When this album arrived in 2003, part of me wanted to say that nothing much had happened since Blood Sugar Sex Magik. But the thought was really closer to “I haven’t gotten off on much of their stuff since BSSM.” And while that may be true, it’s not the whole story.

See, the Chili Peppers is one of those bands that I resisted. They were getting airplay from Mother’s Milk (“Higher Ground”, no doubt) and I just did not get it. Then Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out. This was the Peppers’ London Calling, their Dark Side Of The Moon (and hopefully not their Frampton Comes Alive). The funk was undeniable: killer guitar riffs and powerful in-the-pocket drumming, all anchored by Flea’s kinetic and soulful bass.

So one day at work I’m listening to BSSM and a co-worker asks me if I’ve heard the ‘real’ Chili Peppers. He offers up his LP copies of Uplift Mofo Party Plan and Freaky Styley. Cripes, this stuff is nuts! Now I can see how Mother’s Milk made its way to Blood Sugar Sex Magik. These early records are all about the Peppers’ roots.

Now, while I was pretty psyched to have discovered the Peppers’ early funkitude, I was just a little suspicious of my co-worker’s motives. This was a guy who only liked a band’s early (and obscure) material. So if a band makes it big, they’ve ‘sold out’. Sorry, but I think that’s crap. “Give It Away” and “Under The Bridge” were pretty big hits. Does their popularity somehow diminish the actual music?

Don’t think so.

So now that I’ve defended the success of the Chili Peppers (sure, like they need me to defend them) I’ve gotta wonder just what the heck was goin’ on when this pile of “hits” was chosen. The ‘older’ material choices are fine (you’d be crazy to leave off “Give It Away,” “Under The Bridge,” “Higher Ground” or “Suck My Kiss”), but there’s just too much mid-tempo stuff from Californication. All those sorta-power ballads and somehow they fail to include the killer funk of “Around The World.” Similarly, One Hot Minute is represented by “My Friends” instead of “Aeroplane.” Very curious.

I’m not ready to write these guys off. They’ve survived more than their fair share of VH-1 Behind The Music-moments. The bonus tunes added here, “Fortune Faded” especially, sure hinted at future possibilities. Maybe they’ve still got another Blood Sugar Sex Magik in ’em.

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