Album Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Return of the Dream Canteen

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Just 6 months ago Red Hot Chili Peppers released their first record having reunited with iconic guitarist John Frusciante. It was something of a surprise therefore, in July, when the band announced another new album, ‘Return of the Dream Canteen’ would be coming.

Well, that album is already here and it’s time to see whether the band were correct in saying it isn’t just a b-side record. Now, for context it should be noted that these songs were written and recorded during the same Rick Rubin produced sessions that spurned ‘Unlimited Love’.

Given that album ran to almost 75 minutes and 17 songs, and this album runs to 75 minutes and 17 songs, those were some hefty recording sessions!

The worry here, before even pressing play is that ‘Unlimited Love’ felt a handful of songs too long. In reviewing that album we also commented; “this feels like four old friends reconnecting and testing the waters”. So again, is this more of the same?

Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘The Drummer’

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The first half of the album harks back to some of the bands earlier funky and psychedelic work and is very digestible with time moving quite quickly. Sadly as the album progresses into the depths of its 17 songs, time does start to lag and the songs all blend in together.

I would agree with the band that this isn’t a b-side record and is of similar standard to ‘Unlimited Love’, unfortunately that means that again it feels too long. Cutting four or five tracks would greatly improve the album, and just picking the 12 best songs from across the two albums would’ve given us a superb return from the band.

Instead we have two lengthy albums full of good yet uninspired songs with a splattering of single quality tracks mixed in. On the positive side this is an easy listening album that you could happily work away to with it on in the background.

Ultimately this is one for the diehard fans to enjoy, but it won’t do anything for the casuals, which really makes it feel unnecessary!

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Live Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers

London Stadium

Saturday 25th June 2022

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The career of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is well chronicled and isn’t something that we need to go in to great depth on. The fact that John Frusciante is back in the fold however is highly noteworthy.

Frusciante takes the band to a different level, one that they have struggled to retain over the past decade or so during his absence. Both on record and live it has felt like the legendary act were simply going through the motions.

That all changes now though with the iconic four members in place, the band instantly finds themselves elevated. A huge world tour taking in some of the biggest venues on offer tonight arrives at the London Stadium for the first of two nights in the venue.

Opening acts Thundercat and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals both do a good job in warming up the crowd, who bask in the summer sun. Yes, the great British weather does well to accommodate three Californian acts which helps to add to the atmosphere.

It’s then over to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as Frusciante, Flea and Chad Smith hit the stage and break into an intro jam that ramps up in intensity until the unmistakeable opening to ‘Can’t Stop’ cuts through.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Can’t Stop’

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From here frontman Anthony Kiedis leads his cohort through a mixture of old and new tracks to the delight of the receptive audience. The likes of ‘Dani California’, ‘Scar Tissue’ and ‘Snow ((Hey Oh))’ elicit stadium filling sing-a-longs as the band showcase their immense back catalogue.

The past decade is ignored as the band celebrate the return of Frusciante, who is a breath of fresh air for the band tonight. Of course, the guitarist joined the band for their recent album ‘Unlimited Love’, and tracks from that album help to testify to his impact. ‘These Are the Ways’ and ‘Black Summer’ are two highlights tonight even amongst the older offerings.

Read our review of ‘Unlimited Love’ from Red Hot Chili Peppers

Naturally the biggest reactions come for the likes of ‘Otherside’, ‘Californication’ and ‘Give It Away’ but the whole setlist tonight is well structured to the occasion. Tonight is a celebration and that is reflected in the bands performance.

An encore of ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘By the Way’ sends the crowd off into the night having witnessed a legendary act prove that they do still have something left to give.

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Album Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Unlimited Love

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Whilst many members have graced the Red Hot Chili Peppers over the past 40 years, there is no doubting the iconic line-up is Kiedis, Flea, Smith and Frusciante. So, the news that Frusciante was returning to the fold in 2019 was greeted with music excitement from their fanbase.

Sadly a pandemic related lack of touring and new music stifled some of that initial joy. There is no real wave of momentum now as the classic line-up release their first album together in 16 years.

Realistically the writing and release of ‘Unlimited Love’ is a thankless task for the band. Try to recapture their glory days and they are simply rehashing old ground, but try something different and rile fans excited by this reunion!

Listen to ‘Black Summer’ on our Spotify Hot List!

Pre-release singles ‘Black Summer’ and ‘Poster Child’ particularly showed that perhaps the band had shot for some middle ground in an attempt to please everybody. The obvious problem being that you can’t ever please everybody.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Poster Child’

Clearly their creative juices have flown again with word of some 50 tracks being recorded during these sessions. 17 have made it on to this album, which makes for a runtime of nearly an hour and fifteen minutes.

Of course the band, and this line-up in particular have history of lengthy releases, but I can’t help but feel a shorter punchier release may have done them more favours; especially in todays age of short attention spans.

This kind of brings us back to the point of who the band are trying to please on ‘Unlimited Love’. Realistically and perhaps rightly it’s not a new audience, nor really any lapsed early fans! The answer instead may lie internally, as this feels like four old friends reconnecting and testing the waters.

As we stated at the start, this release would always be a thankless task, so perhaps it’s only right the band get to take the time to feel each other out again. Let’s face it for a group on the level of Red Hot Chili Peppers, anything they release will be a commercial success.

Artistically they’ve not rested on any laurels, or simply played it safe, but for a band famous for their experimentation, you have to hope they will stretch their legs a little further on their next release!

Still, ‘Unlimited Love’ likely does what it needs to do. It doesn’t recapture past glories, but it may well lay the groundwork for the band to do so.

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