I’m lucky I no longer have to work weekends, so after five days at the coal face of reality, I strive to make my Saturdays and Sundays last as long as possible. Until they invent a pill that enables me to stay up all night and lie in bed all day while my kids amuse themselves, and I still have 15 hours left over in which to carry out the various family/home/leisure pursuits I like to do, I try to trick myself into believing the weekend lasts longer than just two quick days. To use an analogy – anyone who attends football regularly will know that the second half always flies in faster than the first. Especially if you’re at Rugby Park and the home team are chasing a goal that’s never going to happen. Sundays always go faster than Saturdays, it’s the unwritten law of the working man’s land. Saturday night therefore tends to be the night I stretch things out into the wee small hours. Saturday night just gone found me channel hopping, delaying the inevitability of half the weekend drawing to a close. Flicking through the assorted music channels cluttering up my telly I happened upon a live concert of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (that’s one ‘l’ in ‘chili’, school boys ‘n girls). After 2 minutes of glass-at-45-degrees, bleary-eyed watching I had a bit of a lightbulb moment…..
Has there ever been a band as insipid, as derived, as contrived, as shitty as Red Hot Chili Peppers?
No. There has not.
It’s the sweat. It’s the muscle. It’s the jock rock sock-on-the-cock shlock of it all. Four back-slapping, hi-fiving, bro-mancing dudes, at least 3 of whom are no strangers to a set of GHDs, in a display of tops-off, homo-erotic machismo. Goodness knows what Google hits are going to land here now that I’ve said that, but there you go.
I can’t stand the way every second of their existence is presented to look and sound like an extreme workout. Flea (Flea! Gie’s a break – he’s about 63!) plays his bass as though he’s wrestling an angry Amazonian anaconda. He’s the ‘alternative’ one, all purple hair and Hendrix tattoos, equally at home in Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace or whatever of Damon Albarn’s side projects are going this week as he is a slap happy Chili Pepper.
And the perma-grimaced drummer – is he not called Chad or Brad or Rad or something equally dudealicious? Gives good face, but he’s not really there for the ‘music’, is he? He’s not really there, full stop. You shoulda seen him, thick as a brick and bashing away with all the grit and determination of someone who has both eyes fiercely set on how his equity bonds are doing on the Dow Jones Index.
John Frusciante. He’s the one it’s probably OK to like. Makes solo records. About 16 a year, by all accounts. Hit and miss, but interesting. He stays on the sidelines, happy to hide behind his hair whilst firing off effortless super-cool rock riffs. Frusciante is the melody man. It’s his tunes that are mugged and mangled by the others who just can’t resist the opportunity of adding in one of those horrible white boy rap sections.
Those horrible white boy rap sections would be the fault of Anthony Kiedis. He really gets on ma goat. If they gave out prizes for turning good tunes bad, he’d win every time. Not content with ruining his own music, he even had the audacity to rearrange Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground into a big pile of backwards-baseball-cap ‘n big shorts wearing mince. He’s in his 50s, for crying out loud. D’you ever see Nick Cave or Paul Weller in shorts?
The have some good tunes. One and a half, to be precise:
Scar Tissue‘s their best. A simple riff. Clean lines. Three instruments not fighting for space. Some sunny Californian harmonies. And no rapping. “Sarcastic know-it-alls“, “Push-up bras” and a perfect wee sky-surfin’ slide guitar part. I bought this when it came out. Played it to death on repeat, and I’ve never tired of it.
By The Way
By The Way‘s almost up there with Scar Tissue but it’s let down by those pointless white boy rap parts. They just can’t help themselves. Another decent riff with a tune and harmonies and everything, Flea goes and spoils it all by revving up the bass line and Kiedis starts going on about “steak knives” and “cash back” and whatever else pops into his head. You can practically see their collective six packs and baby-oiled biceps bulging between the grooves. Even the ever-reliable Frusciante goes all Limp Bizkit funk for half a minute. I bet there’s a great light show whenever they play it live though.
With the exception of the above tracks, they’re rotten really, aren’t they? Walkin’, talkin’, livin’ and breathin’ rock music cliches. To paraphrase Telly Savalas in that old advert – I know that. You know that. But they don’t know that. Someone should really tell them. “Put some clothes on, eh!” Or put them down in a dignified manner, like you would an old stinky dog.