Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

Song: The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: I'm With You

It's been quite a while since we've heard new music form the Chili Peppers, not since 2006's double album "Stadium Arcadium."  Since then the band has once again lost guitarist John Frusciante, who many point to as the glue to the Peppers artistic success... first appearing on "Mother's Milk," and then their seminal album "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," which elevated them to one of the most popular bands in the world.  Frusciante first left after the exhausting tour and promotion for that album and unfortunately developed a pretty intense heroin addiction.  The Peppers got Dave Navarro to replace him, and released the terrible "One Hot Minute."  Navarro soon left, and after completing rehab, Frusciante returned at the band's request and they went into the studio and recorded "Californication," their most successful album to date, which was critically lauded.  After two more albums and the extended hiatus the band is back with a new album, "I'm With You," and have added Josh Klinghoffer to replace Fruciante, whom has worked as a sideman on both Chili Peppers and Frusciante solo records.

I've always been a Chilli Peppers fan and have delighted in seeing them continue to grow as musicians and a band.  As much as I loved "Californication," I thought the follow up, "By the Way," is actually their best complete album, but found the double "Arcadium" to be a bit bloated.  (though I am listening to it as I write this and am actually quite enjoying it.)  I am concerned by Fruciante's departure, but the Peppers are a different band than they were when he initially left in 1992.  I think they are stronger, wiser, better writers and musicians, and have truly found their groove as a band.  Producer Rick Rubin returns once again for "I'm With You," so the cards, despite no Fruciante, are in their favor.

It's hard not to judge every initial Peppers single to "Californication's" "Scar Tissue," which might ultimately be their seminal song... and the oddly titled first single off the new record, "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie," doesn't grab you like that initially.  But I've been listening to it for about a week now and it's really grown on me.  The good news is that it still sounds like the Chili Peppers, unlike the Navarro-heavy "One Hot Minute" singles.  And I like Klinghoffer's guitar work.  It's not Fruciante... but it fits within their sound, doesn't fight with it, and just sounds great.  Different, but pretty great.  Exciting.

Thankfully, despite having enough material for another double album, they have boiled it down to 14 tracks for one album. (Apparently they thought about releasing a triple album for "Arcadium" as they had the tracks... which would have been an even bigger mess.)  I'm not sure I hear a huge hit in "Rain Dance Maggie," but I also felt that way about "By the Way" as an initial single... which did well but was also followed up by several great singles and was on an album chock full of varied and amazing songs.  So I'm still quite excited about "I'm With You" and hope it's the perfect soundtrack to the end of summer.

What do you think?  Can they survive without Fruciante?


The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

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