When I think back to 1991, as I did yesterday, and I recall albums from that time (notably Nevermind and Metallica), there was also the advent of Blood Sugar Sex Magik. While not the revolution that Nevermind, it burst the Chilis into the mainstream kind of like the Metallica album did for them. It was the ultimate party album at the time. One just needed to throw on Suck My Kiss and the house was rocking and everyone was dancing. But, in the years since BSSM, things for the Chilis have radically changed. They broke away a bit from their formula with One Hot Minute as they catered to Dave Navarro’s replacing Frusciante but, at least for me, all the material since has been based almost entirely on the BSSM format. I can’t stand Californication as an album (Scar Tissue being a decent ballad but not as good as Under The Bridge), or By The Way (the title track being OK but not as good as Give It Away). The few cuts I heard from Stadium Arcadium did not peek my interest at all. And now comes I’m With You. I tried to listen to it. I really did. But, it just sounds like the same refried Chilis on Californication and By The Way. There are the pseudo rock tunes and the chili ballads but gone is any snarling Frasciante guitar (I could barely hear his replacement Josh Klinghoffer in the mix at all) and without that, there is seemingly just Flea and the ego otherwise known as Keidis. It was even mildly depressing because I found myself wondering if I got old or they just got lazy…it reminded me of a concert I saw with them as headliners here in Paris about 5 years ago. They were really flat and, believe it or not, Kiedis forgot an entire chorus on Under The Bridge. Perhaps it is more healthy for me to just recall the wonderful path the Chilis took to get to BSSM (the ecstatic, funky eponymous first album with Police Buckle Down and True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes, the kick-ass followup Freaky Styley with end-to-end greatness, and the epitaph for Hillel Slovak, their first guitarist, Uplift Mofo Party Plan with the Special Secret Song Inside…). Perhaps Mother’s Milk was a warning that they might water it down but with BSSM, I thought that they could hold their edge. Well, what can I say, I wish I had been right.
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