Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Stadium Arcadium

(Warner Bros.)

The Music Box's #19 album of 2006

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8

Written by John Metzger

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The more that the Red Hot Chili Peppers distances itself from the adolescent punk-funk of its early days, the more that it seems to take a beating among a certain segment of the population. While it’s true that growth and maturity sometimes do lead to more conservative (and less interesting) fare, the Red Hot Chili Peppers has managed — rather deftly over the course of its last few albums — to move forward without losing touch with its past. It’s been four years since it issued By the Way, and the group’s latest endeavor Stadium Arcadium, which was crafted under the guidance of its longstanding producer Rick Rubin, more than makes up for lost time. From the thrashing groove of the throwback Warlocks (which features a guest appearance by Billy Preston on clavinet) to the gently melodic title track, the set ambitiously summarizes the ensemble’s improbably glorious career, even as it pushes the band further into pop-imbued territory.

Without a doubt, Stadium Arcadium does take awhile to reveal its magnificence simply because it contains so much material that it’s difficult to grasp the effort after just a handful of airings. Consequently, there are those who have derided the Red Hot Chili Peppers for brazenly spreading 28 tracks across a pair of discs. Yet, the truth of the matter is that unlike most equally lengthy affairs, Stadium Arcadium never feels as if it pretentiously is stuffed with filler. Instead, each song on the outing is an exquisitely crafted showpiece that not only appropriately emphasizes the talents of each of the band’s members, but also highlights how well they interact with and support one another.

In fact, the Red Hot Chili Peppers rarely has sounded more unified in its pursuits. Throughout Stadium Arcadium, guitarist John Frusciante, employs an array of techniques that colorfully alter the tenor of his accompaniments, and whenever a tune appears as if it might begin to stagnate, he swoops in and carries it to a higher plane. Elsewhere, drummer Chad Smith steadfastly underscores everything — from the Talking Heads-flavored Charlie to the Beatle-kissed, harmonic dreaminess of Desecration Smile — with a loose, rhythmic beat, while Flea’s bass lines alternate between pulsing like popcorn on Tell Me Baby and playfully rippling across the Police-meets-U2 landscape of Snow ((Hey Oh)). As for Anthony Kiedis, his vocals are stronger than ever, and much like Mick Jagger, he succeeds in striking the perfect pose between cocksure swagger and weary self-reflection.

Although there are moments on Stadium Arcadium when Kiedis slips into rhymes that emphasize sonic effect over actual meaning, the bulk of the endeavor expands upon the themes that initially began to creep into the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ work during the sessions for Blood Sugar Sex Magik but later blossomed fully within Californication. Where the band once believed that the West Coast was a veritable playground of hedonistic pleasures, it now views its home as the place where dreams melt and evaporate in the southern California sun, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ endless quest for the perfect high has given way to a desire for spiritual rebirth. Perhaps the biggest criticism that can be leveled at Stadium Arcadium is that its songs are aligned by how they rub together texturally rather than to further a narrative arc. Then again, the outing’s title suggests that it was designed to mimic a colossal stage show. In that regard, the ensemble delivers a pair of mammoth, well-paced sets, which demonstrate that 23 years after its formation, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still has a lot to offer. starstarstarstar

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49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal
Dani California

49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Rock Song
Dani California

49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Rock Album

49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package

49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Rick Rubin

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Of Further Interest...

Beck - Guero

Foo Fighters - In Your Honor

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

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Stadium Arcadium is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2006 The Music Box