There was simply nothing like them at the time. Kiedis’ punchy delivery in the way he brought sexually charged machismo to their funk metal insanity was just one of the many facets of their cool factor. There was also the main attraction of the band’s groove: Flea. His incomparable bass slapping, which laid the groundwork for technicality, is a cut above the rest; he’s to bass what Keith Richards is to rhythm guitar. And who can forget about the other key components, Slovak and Irons, who faded into the background with their rhythmic boogie that mirrored the band’s main influences, Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament, Jimi Hendrix, and James Brown.
But of course, things took a turn for the worst for the band: Slovak died of a heroin overdose and Kiedis was desperately trying to kick his habit. This ultimately led to the departure of Jack Irons. They would subsequently hire Will Ferrell look-alike Chad Smith, who would be the focal point in their new sound.
Soon the missing puzzle piece in their upshot of musical maturity was fulfilled once guitarist John Frusciante came along; this was about the time where they shot into the mainstream galaxy with their albums, Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Of course, drug habits caught up to him as well; he departed from the band hereafter. That’s when Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction stepped in and played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their follow-up album, One Hot Minute.
Eventually, Navarro quit, so that’s when the band contacted John Frusciante once he kicked his habit; this would be a major turn of events, where they would soon put out some of the best music of their career. Unfortunately, though, John Frusciante once again left the band; this time indefinitely, to focus on other projects.
None of this takes away from the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still putting out consistent music and selling out live shows. That’s why we’ll be focusing on their album cuts that aren’t singles, because of the endless pool of great tunes to choose from.
# 10 – Nobody Weird Like Me
Opening up the Top 10 Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs (Deep Cuts) List is this scorching cut from their 1989 record, Mother’s Milk. The song features a bouncing bass riff from Flea that perfectly dresses up Anthony’s wacky lyrics about sexing a porpoise and riding on giraffes. Of course, Chad Smith’s fiery percussion needs no further comment. But that guitar savagery, people. The way John Frusciante makes it sound like bagpipes towards the end is nirvana; this is truly the side of him that’s underrated…..his heavy side.
# 9 – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
This funkadelic palette of sexualized surrealism from their eponymous classic can not be explained in simple terminology; look the song up or go out and buy the album and experience it yourself. Immerse thyself in its rhythmic communication. Don’t sleep on its sticky riff covered in Jimi Hendrix style mechanics with that complimentary solo to tailor fit the bass and drums. This was essential Red Hot Chili Peppers on this album; their funk rock ferocity peaked here.
# 8 – Easily
Their mellow comeback album, Californication, exercised an essence about the band that would soon become associated with them. Yes, they’re premier funk rock, but the overall sound and motif of this record define laid-back beach vibes. This is exactly what they would morph themselves into; poignant music befitting for the gold sand and ocean currents. And this song is no exception. It’s quite a persuasive number that’ll surely get you moving in the midst of its lovely imagery of Shao Lin and being thrown into unwanted situations such as war.
# 7 – Especially In Michigan:
Coming in at number seven on our Top 10 Red Hot Chili Peppers deep tracks list is an awesome guitar song that features stellar guest playing from Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta. Everybody plays off of each other really well here, and just listening to those lyrics, with its potpourri of references to Michigan, just makes you want to take a trip there. The song, “Especially in Michigan,” was released on the 2006 Stadium Arcadium Album.
# 6 – I Could Have Lied:
This quiet little ballad from Blood Sugar Sex Magik feels like it could be out of place on the album, but that’s the beauty of the Chili Peppers; they can make something so irreconcilable fit right in with the bigger picture. Kiedis’ soft vocal restraint throughout the verses until raising his frustration a notch in the chorus is immaculate; he brings these lovesick lyrics alive. Of course, John Frusciante’s reserved guitar work here is a standout as well.
# 5 – Porcelain
This is such a gorgeous composition because even in its depressive quality, there’s something very embracing about this piece of music. The song “Porcelain,” speaks on a poetic level. Within its musing of a girl feeling unwanted and missing those she cares about the most, there’s also the cosmic symbolism, especially in lines like this: “Do you carry the moon in your womb.” Hands down, one of their best and most melancholy songs.
# 4 – Venice Queen
Time for another sad song, which is ironically a very uplifting one. It’s the closing song off of their 2002 album, By the Way; this is the record where their melodic side really started coming alive, thanks to John Frusciante. The song was written for Anthony Kiedis’ drug rehab therapist, Gloria Scott, who passed away as soon as he purchased her home in Venice Beach. This is a wonderful ode to someone he held close to him. I highly recommend listening to the Live at Slane Castle version; that’s the definitive version. That right there is an emotional journey of epic proportions; hearing those guys at their most vulnerable on stage.
# 3 – Don’t Forget Me
This song, another By the Way cut and fan favorite, is simply on the list because of the version they performed at La Cigale, France where they were at in 2006. Now, that’s not taking away from the fact that the album version isn’t great, but this live rendition they emitted from their souls on that stage is something of otherworldly quality. That guitar intro where Frusciante incorporates volume swells, giving the guitar a violin sound, is sublime. And the way Anthony’s body gets taken over by the music as he manically shambles on stage is fantastic. But the real highlight is John Frusciante’s second guitar solo; that’s the image of a man becoming one with his guitar.
# 2 – Animal Bar
What an illustrious song right here, folks; one of many on their double album, Stadium Arcadium. It’s one of their most thorough compositions, with such a swimming vibration on the senses that puts the listener in an aquarium of free thought and wonder; it’s quite a magical tune. The way every harmony moves around you like a congregation of dolphins and sharks, and the way those lyrics put the imagination at work; they paint a Winslow Homer-like picture with their sweet ode to the water’s transcendental purpose. This is an undeniable work of lovely euphony.
# 1 – Wet Sand
Yet another Stadium Arcadium deep cut; this one is nothing short of a masterpiece. It starts out as a mellifluous piece, with Anthony putting forth so much carefree emotion into his sunshine-cluttered anecdotes drizzled in allusions that could hint towards getting over addiction. It also could simply be about a special kind of woman; who knows for certain. It’s just an incredible song that can put anybody in a great mood with its uplifting qualities. And the way it builds up like two separate songs further demonstrates the structural unpredictability of it all; those last two minutes are pure heaven. That’s what spiritual inspiration is, and that’s why Wet Sand is their best deep cut.
Feature Photo By Warner Bros. [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs: Deep Cuts article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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