A double album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Yes, you got it. Fortunately, this double album is seen to be one of the better albums by the group. Yes, it also includes legendary guitarist John Frusciante playing on here as well. With sales of over seven million copies internationally, this all seems very promising. Still, how does it sound? Let’s find out.
Dani California kicks off the double album with rolling drumbeats from Chad Smith, and clean and clear guitars by John Frusciante before Anthony Kiedis launches into the song singing away very nicely. This is an interesting tale of a lady lyrically, and musically, this is really amazing. A fantastically listenable and enjoyable tune to be heard on repeat, the whole band is on fire here. A truly great song by the group and an upbeat and excellent tune to listen to, there is a breakdown in the second half which is weird. This is a must listen from this album, it is truly thrilling from start to finish. The chorus in particular is euphoric, awesome and uplifting. Great music to hear, the crunchy guitar solo towards the end is also very original and different. A great song, without a doubt.
Snow (Hey Oh) begins with some intricate guitar fills in the right channel, bass guitar in the left channel and drums and vocals through both channels. Anthony Kiedis sings about surreal imagery, and there is also a keyboard in this tune. This is some great and decent music from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it sounds as though time was not wasted on this double album, at least at this point. An excellent song, and the most popular tune from this double album. This is an incredibly soothing and good song to listen to and enjoy, it just is an amazing listen from start to finish. A fine and fantastic tune, there is some great playing from the band towards the end that sounds very natural and tight. A good tune, and one that deserves to be heard from this double album. There is a ripping guitar solo towards the end, with a load of feedback. Nice work.
Charlie arrives next, and begins with some weird guitar and bass guitar parts, followed quickly into a quirky and funky tune. This song is, like what came before previously on the album, of a very high quality standard. This song is likely about Cocaine use, which the song title is a nickname for this drug. Of course, when one is a rich and famous Rock star, anything goes. There are some awesome wah-wah guitar parts and bass guitar parts by both John Frusciante and Flea respectively. Nonetheless, this is another excellent tune by the RHCP and it is proof that the group had buckets of inspiration at this time. Yes, this is definitely worth hearing. The mixture of sounds, structure and playing by the group is fantastic. A very pretty and euphoric listening experience, and again, worth hearing. Good music by these guys. An interesting and worthy tune to hear. There are some awesome sounds and playing to conclude, particularly from Flea. Great work.
Stadium Arcadium is, of course, the title track for this double album. It launches into some powerful and choppy drumming from Chad Smith and some excellent guitar riffs from John Frusciante. Anthony Kiedis kicks in soon enough and sings about more surreal things, which is fairly normal territory for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The chorus is very good, and it has Kiedis soul searching for meaning in life. In any case, this is yet another excellent song from the group. It has some nice backwards guitar parts on this tune as well. All in all, this is a life affirming and good quality tune to listen to throughout. Lively and excellent, the second half has a completely different guitar riff that sounds really cool and drives the song into newer sonic territory. This is amazing and brilliant music, these guys are obviously a natural fit for each other in the band, despite the fact that John Frusciante has a habit of departing from the RHCP at times. Another brilliant song, and a Rock music classic. Great song.
Hump de Bump is next and has a rather interesting single chord intro, followed by a very Blood Sugar Sex Magik sounding tune. Nonetheless, this is a seriously wonderful and excellent song that is very much a great listen throughout with some super funky Fender Stratocaster playing by John Frusciante. This sounds really great and wonderful. There are some rather interesting sounds and textures throughout, and there is a strange percussion section in the second half that sounds wacky. Still, this is really excellent Red Hot Chili Peppers territory. This is weird, but Anthony Kiedis reminds us that this is the RHCP doing their thing as a band. A trumpet part in the left channel is here towards the end, and it finishes very well. Great tune.
She’s Only 18 begins with some somewhat loose bass guitar by Flea, some accompanied drums and awesome wah-wah guitar. This tune is about male sexual lust for a lady who is just 18, or seemingly so. In any case, this is near jailbait territory lyrically, but all the same, the tune is okay. It’s pretty out there overall in terms of lust. A weird wah-wah guitar solo is on this tune, and it sounds unusual in the way it is played. Another okay tune, although this is not a song for most people.
Slow Cheetah begins with a counted intro, some acoustic fingerpicking on guitar and Anthony Kiedis pouring some emotion into this acoustic ballad. Some deep bass from Flea enters, and this tune gets going. This tune gets dual-tracked acoustic strummed guitars and drums, and away we go into a much more rhythmic tune in the chorus sections, before reverting back to the simplicity of the verses. This is a very good acoustic ballad all the same, and it certainly sounds like a decent piece of music that has a whiff of romanticism about it. This song, although not one of the biggest hits from the album, is core proof of the brilliance of Stadium Arcadium, at least so far. There is a touch of slide guitar present as well. This piece then reverts to an extended chorus towards the end of the song, before returning to John Frusciante’s guitar playing at the end, followed quickly by Flea playing bass superbly. A nice conclusion musically, there are backwards bass guitar parts as well. Excellent.
Torture Me begins with some nice playing of bass from Flea, which the band follows at the drop of a hat. This is a very strange and unusual tune, and to be fair, this is a bit of a weak point on this album. It’s not outright bad, just a bit too Grunge and not enough of classic RHCP here. Again, there is a trumpet solo in this tune. This song could have been improved a little, but surprisingly Anthony Kiedis saves this one with his decent vocals. It is fairly unclear what exactly the RHCP wish to express here musically, it sounds a little bit off, to be honest. John Frusciante tries to breathe some life into this song with his guitar solos, but again, this isn’t the best here. A strange piece of music.
Strip My Mind begins with some neck position Fender Stratocaster strummed chords before the band kicks in. Again, much like the previous track, this one isn’t a highlight of this album. Still, it is a bit of an improvement on the odd piece before it. The groove is slower and tighter throughout, and this benefits the Red Hot Chili Peppers style in a big way. There are some neat production touches throughout, such as reversed vocals and some interesting editing of the band’s typical sounds. This is still listenable, mind you, so there is no need to skip this tune. It does well enough on its own. In the second half is a loud and heavy guitar solo from John Frusciante that sounds really amazing. A really good listen, and a good example of the RHCP getting their groove on. This is totally decent and enjoyable and ends with some spacey keyboards and guitars, a nice touch.
Especially in Michigan begins with some synchronised riffing, before quickly launching into a good song to hit the road within your vehicle of choice. A stunning, pretty and audibly delicious tune, this has some good playing and more surreal (likely drug influenced) imagery. Nonetheless, this song sounds really cool and is the case that the RHCP were exploring further sonic territory that had not been done by the group as of yet. In short, a good solid tune that sits nicely on this album. John Frusciante plays a dramatic guitar solo throughout the second half, along with some decent studio edited guitar parts. It gets rather catchy and groovy towards the end, and the group play very well, working as a unit. The song ends with a load of feedback with multitracked guitars. Nice work.
Warlocks begins with some nimble bass playing and some Hard Rock sounding drumming. Again, this is looking back to Blood Sugar Sex Magik in terms of musical territory, but a lot more mature and less pretentious than that album ever was. A cool and strange listen throughout, this is proof that the group, twenty years or so after they began, still could Rock very well. A quirky, weird and interesting listening experience, the Red Hot Chili Peppers impress, even on the lesser cuts. A loud and furious guitar solo from the legendary Frusciante powers this along, and each band member plays like their life depends on it. This is wonderful music, and unlike other double albums, kicks a donkey’s rear. Great stuff.
C’mon Girl begins with some quirky basslines, fast drumming, minimal guitar and good singing respectively from each member of the band. This is another quirky and different tune that demands your ears, even if you are only a casual fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The chorus has euphoric chanting, which is followed by some more verses that sound definitely borderline artsy. But this isn’t where Blur parked their car. Instead, this is another lesser cut that is still very much listenable. There are some very intricately mixed and processed guitar solos in the second half of the song, which are much like something that Jimi Hendrix would do. A fine and interesting tune, and again, worth hearing. There is some more wild soloing right at the end, which is worth hearing. It ends with Anthony Kiedis laughing maniacally, a nice way to conclude a song.
Wet Sand begins with some semi-acoustic guitar strumming, which is fairly similar sounding to Oasis’s Live Forever. Despite that, this is a genuinely good and simple song that these guys made. Layers of studio based instrumentation enter, which adds some decent flavour and texture to the music present here. A fresh, pretty and really excellent piece of music, this sounds really Pop like, but without sacrificing the original RHCP sound to this album and song. These guys are terrific musicians, and their musicality is without doubt or question. Some excellent harmonies are in this tune, which boosts it musically. Again, this is a superb tune that absolutely deserves to be heard by fans of the group. This song never gets dull nor boring in the five minutes that it runs for. There is a build up of sound, volume and intensity right at the end, complete with a hybrid piano/harpsichord part being played. A very good listen indeed.
Hey is a quirky number to conclude side one of Stadium Arcadium with. It begins with a subdued atmosphere, followed by jangly Fender Stratocaster parts that sound really good. This is another very good and quality listen from the RHCP. This is lyrically about leaving things behind in the past with some regrets. John Frusciante plays some absolutely gorgeous guitar parts throughout and proves that Fender Stratocasters in the right hands make the right sounds. A really cool tune, there is more harpsichord keyboard playing on this tune as well. The slow, yet groovy guitar playing keeps this song alive. Let’s face it, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s best guitarist was always John Frusciante. This album is proof of that, his guitar parts breathe a great deal of life into an otherwise normal set of songs. His wah-wah guitar solo in the second half again owes a great deal to Jimi Hendrix. Nonetheless, a good listen throughout, and a decent way to conclude the first half of this double album. It ends with a gentle outro.
Desecration Smile begins side two of Stadium Arcadium. It sounds rather melancholy like at the start, with nicely plucked bass guitar and acoustic guitars driving this piece along with the rest of the band. This tune, although oddly a little lacking in emotion, is a good one. The chorus is a welcome change from the rather dull first section of the song. A keyboard solo then enters, which is different. This song is rather weird in its own way and is perhaps proof that these guys had plenty of stuff taken whilst making this music. A really good tune anyway, even if it isn’t the absolute best from this album. It does show the RHCP as a great musical unit, all the same. This is a bit lengthy though and could have been cut down a bit, but otherwise, a good song to listen to.
Tell Me Baby is one of the more popular songs from this double album release. It begins with slow acoustic guitar and matching piano in opposing channels before the band kick in and this song gets going very well. A really unique and awesome listen throughout, this is another romantic/sexual sort of song that has an appeal for the old school Rock crowd. Some interesting sounds are present in this song, and there are some unique and different sound effects used throughout. A very good song to listen to, and quirky and interesting, certainly. The guitar solos, particularly in the second half, are tripped out and interesting to match the ambience of the song. Good tune.
Hard To Concentrate begins with some nimble bass plucking, bongo style beats and guitar violining. This comes across as an INXS rip-off lyrically, but it is okay for what it is. It sounds super weird, even for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s about romantic love, set to music, believe it or not. Still, this is likely the least impressive song so far on this double album. Sure, the RHCP were experimenting on this tune, but it is more about sound effects than a good tune. It’s not outright bad, just not really something that fits on this album. A really strange sounding tune, but it is okay for what it is. Decent but very weird.
21st Century begins with pseudo-Reggae guitar, weird as bass guitar playing and a continuation of the unusual elements of the previous track. This is the Red Hot Chili Peppers attempting to put some variety into this album, which is beginning to buckle in some ways by this point. The song is again saved by legendary guitarist John Frusciante from being fairly average otherwise, his guitar playing and skills are really amazing on these songs. This is neo-Disco music for those who never got into Disco in the first place. It is a very, very weird tune to listen to. Even so, it does have some musical promise to it. The wah-wah guitars on this song save the day, and Chad Smith’s drumming is really excellent as well. A nice guitar solo finishes this up, great stuff.
She Looks to Me begins with some gorgeous electric guitar fingerpicking, before quickly launching straight into a very underrated and gorgeously melodic tune. This is further proof that, even in the depths of double album territory, the Red Hot Chili Peppers rock well. This is about more relationship based sort of subject matter, and it is a caring and compassionate sounding tune. A fairly standard Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, John Frusciante launches into a heavily overdriven guitar solo in the second half, before the band resumes their craft. The song is a real joy to hear, and although this isn’t the best love song ever, it does what it does very well. A really cool tune anyway.
Readymade begins with a loud bass guitar riff and some feedback, before some good, but not great, riffing enters. Understandably, not all albums and especially double albums are perfectly consistent. This song drags down the album quite a bit, and it doesn’t sound like a cut that really should have made it onto this album like this. In any case, it is okay, just not phenomenal. It does have quite a good groove to it, however. John Frusciante has to save this tune from mediocrity, yet again. It’s an okay song, but nothing that screams sensational. The mixture of drums and vocal sounds in the second half is pretty cool, just before the rest of the band kicks back in. A fairly average song saved by the instrumentation here.
If begins with a keyboard sound, followed quickly by some incredibly pretty and pleasant guitar playing and bass picking. This piece is a much shorter tune, which is a relief lengthwise. This is a sub three minute piece of music that sounds gentle and pretty. A very decent and enjoyable listen, this is a soft, gentle tune that definitely is a good addition to this album. A great little piece of music here, this ends with chanted harmonies and the prominent keyboard. Nice work.
Make You Feel Better begins with a hi-hat intro, clean guitar chords and a basic Rock and Roll drum beat. This launches into a good song that sounds really thoroughly awesome and punchy. A really fine, cool and great tune about musicians having an impact on the listener, this is a good relief to hear such a good and direct piece of music. This sounds like it could have been on the American Pie soundtrack, it has that classic and quintessential sound that the songs in that film had. In the second half, things get more intense and this builds up to a great finale, with some precise playing of the guitar by John Frusciante. A nice effort, it ends with a load of guitar feedback.
Animal Bar begins with an interesting mixture of bass playing from Flea, followed by the rest of the band in a very good way. An interesting tune, some of the sounds present on this song, and indeed the album, are extremely Psychedelic. Anthony Kiedis has some treated vocals on this tune, along with the song having a bunch of equally different sonic treatments and textures. John Frusciante does some violining that is very superb on guitar, and this piece of music is very decent for what it is. A really cool and interesting listen, this tune sounds very extraordinary in a sonic sense. Despite all that, this tune does drag on for a bit too long, which is a shame. It’s quite good otherwise. The chorus is very catchy and great sounding, in particular. The Red Hot Chili Peppers know how to impress their fans, and again, this is very good. The guitar solo at the end uses some interesting playing. Good, even though it is rather lengthy.
So Much I is fortunately shorter. It is getting into the lesser part of this double album, and the songs present are not as good as those on the first half of this otherwise solid recording. In any case, this is easily forgiven at this point as these guys have put in a mostly solid effort so far. A good listen in any case, the playing and musicianship present is interstellar and amazing. An interesting tune about nothing, in particular, the whole band plays very well as a unit. “Please don’t turn me into them,” chants Anthony Kiedis, proving to the music world he is a unique person, at least in his own eyes. The guitar solo at the end is enormous and impressive, as is the scream from Kiedis. Good finish to an otherwise average song.
Storm In A Teacup begins with some ridiculously good Fender Stratocaster funk style middle position sounds before the rest of the band enters. This is a better piece than what has come directly before it, it is shorter and more interesting and better listening throughout. The Red Hot Chili Peppers undeniably have an excellent ear for sounds and a really great groove about them. This song is no different. A great combination of sounds, this is an interesting and tripped out tune that sounds really quite cool. The precision of playing and sounds on these songs are amazing, and in particular, John Frusciante saves this album from being a poorer effort than it is, especially towards the end of the songs, such as this song. Good all the same.
We Believe begins with some intricate guitars and rolling drumbeats. This is definitely another odd tune, and it sounds a bit like the RHCP milking a musical formula here. It’s not outright bad, just nothing hugely special. Pushing one’s beliefs onto others in a preaching sort of way really isn’t necessary for a song, and this song is a reminder of that. A weird tune. In the second half is some Cream like guitar solos (the Eric Clapton woman tone), followed by a load of sonic sounds that are really only here to shine up a poor quality song. If you want to skip this song, you can. This song ends in a very weird way, with watery vocals and guitar parts. Weird.
Turn It Again is a longer piece at over six minutes long. It begins with some quirky guitar work and has a more traditionally normal approach to the music at hand. This is a bit more Pop oriented than what has come before, but it is a good listen regardless. John Frusciante again saves the day with loud and frenetic electric guitars in the chorus, which makes this piece become more lively. Even so, by this point, this album has lost some of the magic that it had on the first side. Regardless, a good effort, especially if you have had the patience to sit through around two hours of music so far. There is a quirky breakdown in the middle of the song, which is interesting and decent. Still, this is a really nice and decent listen for what it is, but length is an issue in this song. Fortunately, this is towards the end of the album. The music at this point is really only something that diehard RHCP fans will enjoy. The guitar soloing by John Frusciante is really something towards the end of the song here, however. If only the rest of the song were the same as well. It eventually concludes well.
Death Of A Martian is the last song on side two. Instantly, it does not sound good at all. Seemingly, the Red Hot Chili Peppers left the worst to last. This is a theme and sound that doesn’t really suit the band at all. Sure, aliens are interesting, but only to a point. In any case, this is an awful way to finish up an otherwise very good album. Nonetheless, it’s okay if you really cannot need to hear this song, then hit stop and do something else. All the same, it’s quite average. There are some spoken words over the music in the second half, which aren’t really necessary at all. Anyway, this awful tune is last for a very good reason, avoid it. A rubbish end to an otherwise very good album.
To summarise, for what this album is, it is a good but not great double album that has some great songs, some good songs and some garbage. Having said that, this is mostly a very good listen. Ideally, you may wish to skip a track or two as mentioned. Still, this is the last album that the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded with legendary guitarist John Frusciante until 2022’s Unlimited Love album. Which is quite some time between albums. A good album from time to time to hear, but not perfect, that’s for sure. Real RHCP fans will want to check out commentary from the band about this album, which is an optional extra on some releases.
Eclectic and funky.