Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Long-Long-Long-Long Time AGO...

Reuniting with old friends is risky business.  You know how it is - you find that guy from college on facebook....that guy who was so freaking hilarious and rebellious and SMART in that he shared all of your opinions about EVERYTHING *generally accepted definition of smart* but then you discover via status updates that he's now on fire for the Lord and heavily into the Tea Party in the same way he used to be into clove cigarettes.

I have been reunited with an old friend - and the friend has changed - but in all the ways that are right and meaningful - not the ways that leave your head spinning. It's hard to believe it is still the same friend, because we're talking some Big Changes.   

You probably saw this coming, but my old friend is the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  It had been a really long time, my friends, since Stadium Arcadium. 

And those of us hardcore Chili Peppers Junkies spent that time  snooping the Internet or consulting the Googles for any little bit of news.  The news repeatedly stated that the band were on "hiatus," and we were seriously concerned they were on "hiatus" the way the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith are on "hiatus," and that we would be forced to wait pathetically for Reunion Tours to which we would take our clients and waste space on the expensive floor by schmoozing instead of moshing or sit in the nosebleed seats with our grandchildren while complaining bitterly about the inconsiderate people STANDING up in front of us instead of SITTING POLITELY and watching "the show."  We were afraid the Red Hot Chili Peppers had become an Institution instead of the band we adored.  The anxiety about the "hiatus" fed our mid-life crisis, yes it did.

We tried to soothe ourselves with John Frusciante's solo albums, of which we became increasingly fond in an OCD sort of way.  At times, we donned dark sunglasses and lurked among the RHCP message boards, listening to people much younger than ourselves discuss rumors that the band were going to be heading back into the studio yay! or whisper about the Big Daddy of All Rumors...the possibility that John Frusciante (who we truly believed was the secret spice that made the Chili Peppers Funk Stew so super tasty) would not be joining them shit!  

We worried and we worried and we worried.  What if it were to be like that One Hot Minute when Frusciante quit before?  That One Hot Minute right after Blood Sugar Sex Magik when John flaked out in Japan and flew home and locked himself in his house for six years and traded in his guitar picks for paintbrushes and hypodermic needles and the band slipped Dave Navarro in there like maybe nobody would notice, although honestly, who wouldn't notice Dave Navarro - the hottest Pepper to have ever Rocked the Sock and the world's most perfectly groomed heterosexual male - and we had gone, Really? We couldn't have been more surprised if you had replaced Frusciante with the Viena Boys' Choir - because it would have been the same amount of awkward.

Actually, looking back at the Dave Navarro Era of the Chili Peppers - it seems surreal - like a vague memory after a rough night of partying where you go...Wait a minute, I did WHAT?  Or like that morning you woke up after a really lucid dream convinced you owned a horse.... It was just a strange and confusing winkle in time. 

DISCLAIMER *I actually do not HATE One Hot Minute at all.  I own it. I just don't consider it part of my Chili Peppers library because it just doesn't belong there.

The Big Daddy Rumor turned out to be right.  Frusciante wanted off the Rock Star Roller Coaster and he exited the ride and made a solo album and produced some other bands and oh yeah, Married a Woman...

....and I was devastated as to what all of this meant for ME.  Because I had been with these guys for a long time!  They owed me something, didn't they?

I'm With You delivers. It's no One Hot Minute.  This time, Frusciante is replaced by close friend and cohort, Josh Klinghoffer, a frequent collaborator on Frusciante's Projects.  In fact, when the Young Kids on the Message Boards asked if Klinghoffer would be able to pull off Frusciante's famous background vocals...wondered if he could hit the high notes, I found myself wanting to defend the new kid.  "Seriously?"  I wanted to say. "Have you listened to Shadows Collide With People?  The ten-year-old girl singing on Carvel is Josh Klinghoffer!" Because it is. This is a picture of Josh Klinghoffer and John Frusciante together.  Josh is on the left.

Klinghoffer is not gifted with Frusciante's virtuosity.  He is not a guitar genius - he's more of an all-around-really-good-musician.  BUT, he knows the secret recipe.  He's added some kind of new spice that you can't put your finger on....but the dish is still the same great-tasting Chili Pepper stew you grew up on.
Klinghoffer is a nostril-flarer, and that's going to take me awhile to get used to.  It's not nearly as appealing as Frusciante's Silent Scream, after all. 

And Klinghoffer does this funky rhino-charge thing on stage instead of the spaghetti legs thing that Frusciante did.  I feel slightly embarrassed for Klinghoffer when watching him perform - like I want to take him aside and tell him that all of that really isn't necessary - we're not holding it against him that his hips don't swivel and he doesn't thrust his left shoulder out all adorably when he plays.  Scratch that. We totally hold it against him.  Because we're only human, after all.

This is a deliciously catchy album with all the requisite Chili Peppers Parts except for maybe the Nasty Business.  There are times when you think it's about to get nasty but then it just goes into rhyming nonsense, instead.  There's no Sir Psycho Sexy on I'm With You.  In fact, this is a completely G-Rated Red Hot Chili Peppers.  It's even more G-Rated than By the Way, if you can believe it.  Like, I don't even have to skip any songs with the kids in the car (thanks guys!).  The fact that the kids know exactly which songs I do skip on the other albums, and exactly why I skip those songs, tells me that their daddy isn't nearly as anal about the skipping as I am.  The worst thing on I'm With You is the B-Word - a far cry from Party on Your P*ssy, that's for sure.  Our boys are growing up (sniff sniff).

Or Maybe Not

Red Hot Chili Peppers.

All the essentials are on I'm With You.  Anthony's in his Prime With The Rhyme.  Seriously, the day he rises above Sesame Street Rhyming is the day I cry my eyes out. 

There are some rhyming stand-outs on I'm With You.  For example, this beauty shows up in Look Around:

This is for the folks in Fayettville
It'll come true if you say it will

Woot!  And from Did I Let You Know we have:

I like your cheeky,
So Mozambique-y,

GOOD JOB ANTOINE....the swan.    That's right, back in the '80's Anthony referred to himself as Antoine the Swan - because it rhymed.  It was a sign of things to come. 

Speaking of poetry (and I use that term loosely) - one of my favorite songs of the album is Even You Brutus?  It isn't mentioned much as a favorite with the critics, but I are ignorant and not a critic.  The beginning of Even You Brutus? is like a session of Poetry Slam.  Much Awesomeness.  

Monarchy of Roses is a great choice for crashing out of the gate - first song up and also one of my faves. 

I could go on and on about each and every song but I've already indicated my Complete Lack of Credentials in Music Critisism-ship and honestly, none of you want to read it anyway.  But I do want to comment on the Partridge Family Feel of Happiness Loves Company.  Seriously.  Is that Shirley Jones singing backup?  No....just Josh again.  But it is a great song.

Oh, and I'd like to comment on Did I Let You Know...we're talking a FANTASTIC trumpet solo (it's not Flea playing on the album - it's a guy named Mike Bulger and he's awesome).  Flea plays some extra special smooth and smoky bass on this one.  Josh floats in and out with little riffs and does some heavenly girlish vocals that make me happy. 

All in all, I'm With You has some great jazz undertones - more than usual - and features four Master Musicians who seem to be completely at home with their current sound - and their new guitarist.  Throughout it all - Chad Smith has shown up for work - solid rock hard drumming. As usual. 

The band have an adorable nervous air about them at the moment, like they're quite desperate for us to like them.  We don't have John Frusciante anymore but don't hold it against us!  Here!  Meet Josh!  He's really nice!  And he does seem really nice.And  he has certainly stepped into some big shoes. They're not a perfect fit, but he can definitely walk in them.   

Good job, guys.  I'm still with you.


  1. Can I just comment that I love you to pieces and hope that you all don't go up in flames down there? Cuz you know I don't know diddly about the RHCP.
    Your Friend, m.

  2. Ha ha - yes! You can comment that you love me to pieces and hope that I don't go up in flames down here. Thanks for commenting - it is going to be my only one. The parenters and homeschoolers are very confused by my blog right now :). And if you read the entier post (educational video included at the end) you DO know diddly now!

  3. well, as that 00.01 per cent of your readership who was looking forward to this, let me just say I really appreciate it. And still silently screaming. (a.a.a.r.r.g.g.h.h.)

  4. I read it - if only just because I like the way you write and it is as good an excuse as any to not go get some much needed sleep or do even more needed corrections... I have not watched the video yet, but will do after having slept! And well, I also hope you won't go up in flames!

  5. Ha ha...Jade thanks! Now maybe you're a fan, too. They need another one. As for going up in flames, Mark was referring to the fact that God is trying to kill him with floods and roast me by torching a good bit of Texas. We are very vulnerable to grass fires right now - pretty terrifying.

  6. Yes, I understood his remark, and really meant it literally that I don't want you to get roasted (whether it is God's wish/intention or just nature doing what nature is supposed to do). I just didn't dare to add the "love you to pieces" part, because, well, you don't know me and it might seem a bit weird coming from a complete stranger no? Mark knows that I also hope he doesn't drown, but I think the water didn't even ruin enough of his stuff to finish his decluttering mission straight away... So, keeping my fingers crossed in silly and chilly Belgium getting a "national downpour" at the moment. And let's be bold: sending you a big hug with some raindrops over the web!