This week in our Blast From The Past series we’re looking at one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years. Turn up the bass and make sure you’ve a spare sock handy.
Give It Away
Featured on the Chili’s seminal 1991 record ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ ‘Give It Away’ is one of the band’s most recognizable songs and remains a firm fan favorite to this day. Like many Chili Pepper’s tracks, ‘Give It Away’ was spawned by Flea and John Frusciante during a jam session. The song’s lyrics (which focus heavily on altruism and selflessness) were written by frontman Anthony Keidis in response to an experience he shared with former girlfriend Nina Hagen. Upon its release the track peaked at number one on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. It later became a hit all over the world thanks to the heavy rotation of its music video on MTV.
By The Way
After the huge success of their 1999 comeback album ‘Californication’, there was plenty of hype surrounding the band’s follow up record ‘By The Way’. By 2002 the Chilli’s had firmly cemented their status on the pages of rock and roll history, yet nobody could have expected just how popular ‘By The Way’ would become. Tracks such as ‘Can’t Stop’, ‘The Zephyr Song’ and ‘Universally Speaking’ helped the album soar, but it was the record’s incredible title track that really caught people’s attention. With its filthy funk verses and rousing choruses, ‘By The Way’ climbed to the top of the charts in the US. It has since been certified double platinum.
The lead single from 1999’s ‘Californication’, ‘Scar Tissue’ is best known for its mellow guitar riff and heartbreaking solos. The song signaled a huge turning point for the band, leaving behind some of the more psychedelic funk stylings of previous albums ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ and ‘One Hot Minute’. ‘Scar Tissue’s signature guitar sound is said to have been influenced by changes in guitarist John Frusciante’s personal life. After a lengthy period of drug and alcohol abuse, Frusciante got clean, began meditating and focussed on an altogether more laid back approach to living. Many music critics believe that this new mellow attitude was reflected in Frusciantes playing – particularly on the aptly named ‘Scar Tissue’.
Another laid back ditty from the extraordinary 1999 record of the same name, ‘Californication’ is one of the Chilli Pepper’s biggest ever hits and a solid feature on the band’s live setlist. Like the title suggests, ‘Californication’ is a reflection of the darker side of Hollywood (a theme referenced heavily in the lyrics of the song), and was inspired by a conversation overheard by Anthony Keidis, in which a woman was ranting about ‘psychic spies from China’. The song is perhaps best known for its video game inspired music video, which was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. ‘Californication’ is currently the band’s most watched music video on YouTube, with 338 million views.
Under The Bridge
Released in 1992, ‘Under The Bridge’ is not only one of the Chilli’s most commercially successful singles, but it could also be argued that it is the best song that the band ever put to record. Prior to its release, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were something of a cult act, who had experienced critical acclaim,but were yet to really make their mark on the world stage. After the song, well…. it’s fair to say that nearly every music fan in the world has heard of them.
Amazingly, ‘Under The Bridge’ almost didn’t see the light of day, as frontman Anthony Keidis thought that the song’s emotional tone didn’t fit well with the rest of the album. Fortunately, producer, Rick Rubin persuaded the band to record the song. He even suggested using John Frusciante’s mother’s choir to perform on the outro section of the track.