Long before I delved into the world of hard rock, psychedelic and progressive rock were my forte. As a huge follower of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ musical style, exploring other bands was never an option. The album, “By the Way” was released as a studio album over a decade and a half ago. Let’s not jump straight into some band-history for now.
The 90’s decade saw the emergence of a plethora of music styles. Rap and Hip-Hop were arguably new genres. It was the period of experimental modern electronic music. There were artists and bands that combined different genres, a concept that was fairly alien in the past decades. Then there was the rise and fall of those garage bands we never got to hear about.
Nirvana with their grunge, and the spontaneity of their ingenious style.
Tool with their progressive-psychedelic metal.
One Matt Bellamy being compared to the legendary Freddie Mercury for his deep, concentrated vocals, and his justifiably envious ability to change pitches on both spectrums within a second.
Steven Wilson was creating waves with his eerily soothing instrumentals, coupled with the dark lyrics that are typical of his music even to this day.
Hard rock belonged to the 80’s. The 90’s, however, didn’t, and couldn’t, boast of being host to a particular type of music genre. Which is mainly why the timeline holds significance in the history of music. Beauty in chaos, it seemed. And boy, did that beauty blow millions of minds across the globe!
Dynamic decade, for sure.
Coming back to the point, the Red Hot Chili Peppers had a fairly turbulent history, by the time the 90’s came to a close, and as the world prepared itself for a new millennium, the band had already experimented with a range of musical styles. And that did sell, for no one could think of combining fast paced funk with rap-like vocals with sweet yet crude guitar solos, coupled with extremely apparent bass (“Blood Sugar Sex Magik” is one such album that deviated towards funky tunes with unparalleled guitar solos, and this one’s a favourite for all the bass heads out there).
By the end of the 90’s, the band came out with their latest album, “Californication”, which had heavy traces of plain, hard rock. Nothing more, nothing less.
The chemistry that existed between John Frusciante and Mike ‘Flea’ Balzary, was back. It was a pleasure listening to their tunes once again.
By 2000, they were 17 years into existence. “What next?” was a question that had been haunting them. 2 years down the line and “By the Way” was released. “What had changed?”, one might ask.
The typical aggressive funk and psychedelic traces were absent, for one. Yet, they were back again, experimenting, 2 decades down the line. “Someone” was never released on the main album, yet it is one track that deserved to be on the vinyl records. Then there’s “Minor Thing”, which in my opinion has the most soulful guitar solo towards the end I’ve ever come across on an RHCP song. What was distinct and noticeably different on the album were the deep, concentrated vocals which somehow seemed to be perfectly coordinated with the backing vocals. Emphasis was also laid on the lyrics. New instruments were incorporated and fit perfectly between the solos (“Tear”, for example, has made use of a trumpet solo).
What was also noticeable was the fact that the lyrics had philosophical undertones, which was something that seldom did come along on any of their tunes. The ‘Californication’ theme is all about how over rated and materialistic the world was becoming. The tracks on that album have fast paced drumming, coupled with evidently strong bass lines. “Around the World” would be a good example.
With the release of ‘By the Way’, they had sealed the deal. They were back, and for good. They were there to stay.
So, what came out of the album wasn’t just a new style of music that was very unlike the RHCP the fans knew. What came out of the album was an amalgamation of all the music genres they had been experimenting with for all these years. Maybe, what did come out was a tribute to their past, a little something to remind them of their lost and troubled years. A celebration of the past? Maybe, the album bore testimony to the fact that they could combine two or more unknowns to write and produce music that instigated a mix of emotions that could never be put to words or paper. The tune of Frusciante’s Fender(s) blending in perfectly with Flea’s Jazz bass, streaming through speakers on a cold wintry night. The chemistry was back again, yet everything sounded new and refreshing.
Musically aesthetic, even.
Or maybe, the new musical style served as inspiration for the albums to come.