Californication is the essential funk rock album, as well as the most matured and commercially successful Red Hot Chili Peppers album. The Peppers have grown from a funk rock band to an ICONIC funk rock band with this album, while keeping their unique freakish image. Californication speaks of personal issues such as lust, drug abuse, death, and contemplation of suicide. “Around the world” is about front man Anthony Kiedis’ journeys and experiences as a Pepper. The title track, “Californication”, took a sarcastic spin on the Hollywood lifestyle, referencing Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. There are also occasional instances where Anthony Kiedis contemplated the matter of love, such as in “Porcelain” and “This Velvet Glove”.
The song “Otherside”, of which title refers to afterlife, speaks of addictions and the struggles addicted individuals have to go through. This song specifically refers to Hillel Slovak, a former Pepper who died of a heroin overdose in 1988. Speaking generally, “Otherside” refers to any similar situation where people find themselves going in circles and unable to change for the better: “I tear it down tear it down, and then it’s born again.”
Probably the most iconic song of the set, “Scar Tissue”, talks openly about death and suicide. Its lyrics, “Scar tissue that I wish you saw”, instantly strikes an emotional chord that lingers on until the next iconic line: “With the birds I share this lonely view”.
Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been known for Anthony Kiedis’ emotional vocals and Flea’s rich, popping slap bass. In Californication, the Peppers brought back guitarist John Frusciante who mesmerizes fans with his crunchy, amazingly bright guitar solos. My personal favorite solo was in “Scar Tissue”, when Frusciante used the slide guitar playing style, creating a smooth and nostalgic melody. “Get On Top” also has an awesome funky guitar sound thanks to Frusciante’s magical swing on the wah pedal.
“Around the World” has one of the most intricate bass licks ever recognized, thanks to Flea’s genius. In “Parallel Universe”, Kiedis’ vocals were subdued to give way to distortion, creating a darker and heavier feel.
Californication also saw a maturity in song concepts and effective use of vocal harmonies, such as in “Otherside”. With this album, Red Hot Chili Peppers reached the point where their music became the most consolidated and their songwriting solidified.
Red Hot Chili Peppers is the essential funk-punk rock band, and Californication is simply the essential Peppers album. It attempts to take you on a poignant, nostalgic, spiritual journey, and leaves you wondering about the meaning of life. Whether you can come back to earth depends very much on your mental powers.
- Around The World
- Parallel Universe
- Scar Tissue
- Get On Top
- Emit Remmus
- I Like Dirt
- This Velvet Glove
- Purple Stain
- Right On Time
- Road Trippin
Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication: Album Review
Written by Gin