How The Red Hot Chili Peppers cemented themselves in rock history with ‘Californication’

Red Hot Chilli Peppers? Funky, innovative and artsy are a few words that come to mind when I think of the California rock band who have managed to last 3 decades in the music industry, a feat that most artists can only dream of. During this lifetime in music they’ve managed to release ten albums that have, for the most part, received critical acclaim by fans and critics alike but the one album that showed a real change in the way that they made their music was Californication, an album that is energetic as it is unwinding which makes for an incredibly experience.

It’s hardly surprising that the album’s sound production and overall style is sublime as the producer for Californication was none other than Rick Rubin, an expert when it comes to the art as he’s worked with a huge varied array of artists such as The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC & Black Sabbath. Furthermore, this album marked the return of  former guitarist John Frusciante who had previously appeared on the albums Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Majik who can be praised for making a much appreciated change in the way that the band sounded as well as their style. Even now, despite having been away from the band for a decade, current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is still compared to Frusciante due to the impact he had on some of the band’s most important work

However, the real star on this record is not Frusciante but in fact Anthony Kiedis, whose voice has a range that many singers can only dream of and really shows on the track Californication, where he really shows his worth that for one minutes sounds like a gentle narrative that intertwines with the ingenious chord playing of Flea and Frusciante and the next minute completely overshadows the rest of his band by showing the sheer power and quality of his voice over a bombardment of guitars and drums. This is especially true on the extremely dreamy Scar Tissue , which contains an equally tremendous performance by all members involved, as well as the emotive Otherside that manages to stand out despite not packing the same punch as some of the more unapologetically funky tracks such Get On Top.

What it does have though is an extremely personal narrative delivered by Kiedis about the struggle of addiction which is a touchy subject not only due to his own reliance on substances but also due to the death of former guitarist Hillel Slovak via heroin overdose. Accompanied by an eerie lone bass to begin with, the song begins to build up into one of the best performances the band have ever crafted, every member managing to stand out on their own merits.

Making an album that truly lasts in the memories of those who listen to it is a difficult task and not every artist is able to claim that they one of the few who have managed to do such a thing. However, with a refined sense of style and sound as well as a tremendous vocal performance from Anthony Kiedis that cements his title as being one of the best singers that music has to offer. Some may write off Red Hot Chili Peppers as a mediocre act who can only sing about California while eccentrically delivering every syllable but Californication was and still is the record that undoubtedly defines the band with their infusion of unparalleled energy and social commentary resulting in them becoming something that not even themselves could have anticipated and for that reason alone, this record deserves classic status.

-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)






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