The Red Hot Chili Peppers have redefined the boundaries of the rock genre. They are not afraid to expand their expertise from either a funk album to just an alternative album. Coming sometime in 2016, The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be releasing their 11th studio album. The Chili Peppers have been my all-time favorite band, so as tribute to the upcoming album, I am ranking their 10 studio albums.
10. "The Red Hot Chili Peppers"
Fresh out of Fairfax High School, the funky Los Angeles band wanted to establish themselves in the music industry. Their debut album was released Aug. 10, 1984 on EMI Records and featured the original line up of Anthony Kiedis on vocals, Michael Balzary (better known as Flea) on bass, drummer Jack Irons and high school friend Hillel Slovak on guitar. Some of the songs featured Cliff Martinez filling in on drums and Sherman replacing Slovak on guitar.
Although the band was disappointed in the production and frequently battled with the producer, Andy Gill, over the sound of the album, the band took it as a learning experience. The album would fail to find success compared to the following albums; however, this album established their name and fan base. The funky song “Get Up and Jump” was their first released single off the album, while “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” was their first music video. Other popular songs off the album included “Green Heaven,” “Mommy Where’s Daddy?,” “Out in L.A.” and “Police Helicopter.”
9. "The Uplift Mofo Party Plan"
Three years after their debut album, the Chili Peppers released their third studio album on Sept. 29, 1987 on EMI Records. Their new producer, Michael Beinhorn, encouraged the foursome to create more diverse music. While the album features the usual genres of funk rock musical style, it also includes influences of reggae and heavy metal.
Songs like “Me and My Friends,” “Fight like a Brave” and “Backwoods” exemplify the funk rock aspect of the diverse rock band. Whereas, songs like “Behind the Sun,” “Funky Crime” and “Special Secret Song Inside” (listen to this song at your own discretion) stay true to the band’s signature funky style. This album was more critically acclaimed than the previous two. However, on a tour to promote the album, the band lost Slovak to heroin overdose. Following shortly after, Irons chose to quit the band.
8. "I'm With You"
The latest 2011 album, “I’m With You,” is the Chili Pepper's 10th studio album. Under Warner Brother Label and Rick Rubin producing, the band needed to find answers after former guitarist, John Frusciante, left the band in 2009. This album featured the new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.
Although I was nervous at first with an album with the genius works of Frusciante, I realized that the band stayed true to their funky roots while also introducing more alternative rock. With songs including “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” “Look Around,” “Monarchy of Roses,” “Ethiopia” and “Brendan’s Death Song,” the band recorded songs that any Chili Pepper fan can listen to. No one can replace Frusciante, but I applaud Klinghoffer for taking the band in a new direction. The album coming out in 2016 will be Klinghoffer’s second album with the band.
7. "Mother's Milk"
The Chili Pepper’s fourth studio album was released in 1989 and was iconic for two reasons. Following the death of Slovak and then departure of Irons, the band thought all was lost. However, with the addition of guitarist John Frusciante and Will Ferrell look-alike drummer Chad Smith, the band rebounded from tragedy.
The new additions brought their own flavor to the band. Smith introduced pounding drums, while Frusciante introduced melodic-funky guitar riffs. This album also featured the band experimenting with funk metal. Their leading singles on the album included a Stevie Wonder cover of “Higher Ground” and funk-rock singles in “Knock Me Down” and “Taste the Pain”.
6. "One Hot Minute"
Following the success of their studio album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” Frusciante became uncomfortable with the band’s worldwide success. He left the band mid-tour in 1992. The band added Jane’s Addiction’s guitarist Dave Navarro to record their sixth studio album. It was released Sept. 12, 1995 under the Warner Bros. label with Rick Rubin as producer.
This album symbolizes a dark time for the members of the band. Most of the band suffered with drug addictions. Kiedis explored different themes in his lyricism that reflected his addictions. This album featured a revival of their funk metal riffs in singles including “One Hot Minute,” “Warped” and “Coffee Shop.” Although this album is not my favorite, it does include some great songs including “Aeroplane” and “My Friends.” Navarro was fired three years after the album was released.
5. "Freaky Styley"
This 1985 album is the funkiest album by the Chili Peppers. The second studio album featured Slovak and Cliff Martinez debut on the album. The album was also produced by no other than George Clinton from the funk soul group Parliament-Funkadelic.
The reason this album ranks so high is because this album represents the funky roots of the band. With funky songs including “Jungle Man,” “Catholic School Girls Rule,” “American Ghost Dance,” “Yertle the Turtle” and “The Brother’s Cup,” the band exemplified their direction of a funk-rock group. Funky covers of “If You Want Me To Stay” and “Hollywood (Africa)” also added to the band’s credibility as a funk group.
4. "Stadium Arcadium"
This album is pure gold. The band members add their own unique flavor to each song. Frusciante’s guitar tracks are masterfully constructed with Flea’s bass tracks. Some of his guitar solos give me goose bumps every time I hear it, especially with the “Wet Sand,” “Torture Me” and “Turn It Again." He demonstrates his ability with the guitar throughout the entire album.
In the U.S., it was the first album by the band to reach the number one selling album status. The two-disc album also collected five out of seven of its Grammy nominations. Released in 2006, this album is significant because it was the last album Frusciante played guitar on. The first Chili Pepper song I heard was their single off this album, “Dani California.” I fell in love with album after I discovered where that single came from. This album also includes amazing songs like: “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Tell Me Baby,” “Desecration Smile,” “Hump de Bump” and “Wet Sand.” I highly recommend this album for anyone new to the Chili Peppers.
3. "By the Way"
The “By the Way” album is a perfect example of how the Chili Peppers can master any genre. The eighth studio album, released in 2002, was unlike any album they have ever done. They focused more on powerful vocals and harmonization and less on the funk aspect. Although it is quite different than anything they have done, they take the listener on a journey through melodic riffs and emotional lyricism.
Frusciante’s genius is on display with every track on this album with his ability to write such powerful melodic melodies. If I were to list some important songs off this album, I would have to list them all. I love them all. This is one of the few albums in music that I can listen to all the way through without pressing next, which is rare. The emotional songs that are backed up with Frusciante’s melodic riffs are “Dosed,” “Don’t Forget Me,” “I Could Die For You,” “Tear” and “Venice Queen”. The classics on the album include: “By the Way,” “The Zephyr Song,” “Can’t Stop” and “Universally Speaking.”
This is the comeback album. After firing Dave Navarro three years after the “One Hot Minute” album, the band reached out to a rejuvenated Frusciante to rejoin the band. Within the first seconds of listening the album, you hear the blast of Flea’s bass guitar. That track is “Around the World,” and it is a great song to begin this monumental album.
This album was the seventh studio album by the band and was released in 1999. The album focuses on themes of drug abuse, lust and California. Songs like “Otherside,” “Scar Tissue” and “This Velvet Glove” describe the failed attempts by Kiedis to become clean of drugs. With other singles including “Californication,” “Parallel Universe” and “Road Trippin,’” you can see why this album remains their most commercially successful studio album release. This album marks as the comeback of the band and a rebirth of the band chemistry. With the return of Frusciante, the band would go on to release two more commercially successful albums after “Californication.”
1. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"
Although music listeners can argue that “Californication” or “Stadium Arcadium” should be No. 1, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” is the obvious choice for the greatest Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album. It was this album that introduced the Chili Peppers into the worldwide popularity. The fifth studio album was released in 1991 and was the first to have Rick Rubin producing. Following the release of “Mother’s Milk,” “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” experimented with unique variations of funk rock.
It baffles me to see so many different genres on one album. You have “Under the Bridge,” “Breaking the Girl,” “My Lovely Man” and “I Could Have Lied” that represent the emotional lyricism of the album, while songs like “Give It Away,” “Power of Equality,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” and “If You Have To Ask” provide the funk rock element on the album. “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” is thought to be the most influential album of the 1990s because it became the foundation for alternative rock. Chili Pepper fan or not, one can appreciate the genius of this album.
What is your favorite Red Hot Chili Pepper album? Comment below!