Flashback: By the Way Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers Tribute Series Part. III


Red Hot Chili Peppers’ By the Way
Released: July 9, 2002
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Executive Producer: Rick Rubin

By the Way was a very experimental album in terms of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound and it has a different and very identifyable sound more than any other Chili Peppers album. The writing and recording process was very different for the group than the previous Californication sessions, as John Frusciante was in great spirits and was brimming with confidence. The original plan for the album was to follow the footsteps of Californication and mix melodic songs with funk songs, but Frusciante felt that the funk vibe had been done and it was time to explore the melodic vibe of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. However, Flea disagreed and felt the true vibe of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in funk. This led to a power struggle between Flea and John which escalated when John wrote most of the bass lines for Flea who then felt his influence in the band was fading. Despite the differences between the two, the album was recorded and released only to recieve rave reviews and commercial success. By the Way excells as arguably the best Red Hot Chili Peppers album due to its euphoric, complex and melodic sound and its classic ballads.

1. By the Way: The title track and lead single from the album, this song became known as one of the best chili pepper songs ever written. The surging bass lines and accompanying guitar riffs are complimented with anthonys quality lyrics about becoming clean from drugs.

2. Universally Speaking: Another single from the album, Universally Speaking is considered a Pepper classic, finding its way onto the Greatest Hits album. With its quality guitar riffs and catchy chorus this is a cant miss.

3. This is the Place: Flea’s prominant and dominating bass lines are the driving force for this track and Anthony’s lyrics speak about the life of a junkie and the escape from life by getting high. Solid track.

4. Dosed: One of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers songs of all time. The soothing guitar riffs from Frusciantes guitar are a perfect remedy for a torn heart. Anthonys lyrics in this song are some of the best of his career talking about pure love and addiction to drugs “climb onto your seahorse” meaning finding your soulmate because seahorses have the one mate in their entire lives. This song is a relatively unknown classic but hearing this song will enlighten you.

5. Dont Forget Me: If there were weak points on this record this would be one. Very monotonous guitar lines and the vocals are just not fitting. However the song features a refreshing solo sounding a bit like flowing water with nice effects.

6. The Zepher Song: This song is a definate highlight of the album. This isnt a typical sounding track from the Chili Peppers, using drum effects at the beginning, but the song eventually flows into a beautiful chorus and into beautiful guitar riffs from John.

7. Can’t Stop: A Chili Peppers timeless classic, Can’t Stop is one of the most famous peppers songs. Using a catchy guitar riff to propell the song, this track is the culmination of solid vocals and lyrics from Anthony but quality instrumentals from the remainder of the band.

8. I Could Die For You: This song grew on me after a while. At first for me it was a song to skip but the meaningful lyrics such as “turn this into motion into beauty that i can abuse” sparked my interest and the rest fell into place. The guitar line is an anchor and the the bridge to the chorus is appealing.

9. Midnight: One of the weaker tracks but still John’s riffs are the standout on this one. Anthonys vocals arent bad but this song is simply not a appealing one overall.

10. Throw Away Your Television: One of the only tracks to feature Flea’s intense running basslines. John’s timely appealing guitar riffs, solo and Chad Smith’s flawless drumline are amazing. Overall this song wont get much playing time but it is an underrated track that is worth a listen.

11. Cabron: A feel good summer type track using an acoustic guitar. One of the weaker overall songs on the album. Anthony talks about love but the vocals don’t work well here.

12. Tear: A slow song that speaks about looking back on life and emotions. One of the more personal and spiritual moments on the record. Written mostly on the piano, John’s guitar solo is perfect for this song and his riffs are excellent. Flea’s trumpet solo is a pleasant surprise in the track.

13. On Mercury: A fast paced reggae-type track which isnt a standount on the album but not a bad track either. Solid listen.

14. Minor Thing: I love the instrumentals on this track. John’s solo is a simple but a delicate beauty as well as great guitar lines featured throughout the song. Anthony’s vocals are average here but the instrumentals speak the loudest in this song.

15. Worm Tape: This track starts off slow with a wailing guitar and moving bassline, but the chorus makes up for the boredom with an acoustic guitar and Anthony’s nice vocals.

16. Venice Queen: For a very long time this was my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers track, an absolutely beautiful ballad where Anthony speaks about a friend Gloria, the driving force behind his battle for sobriety, who died from cancer shortly after he bought a house for her on Venice Beach. Instrumentally and vocally this dreamy song simply shines and is a must listen.

By the Way
Venice Queen

Dont Forget Me
Worm Tape

Final LP Rating: 7.5/10
By the Way is one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most succesful albums as a cohesive whole, a peak in the bands career as a whole sound and individual growth. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis excelled in his songwriting abilities here and stretched his personal limits while John Frusciante talored his signature sound to perfection and wrote most of the instrumentals for each track. Flea and Chad Smith’s bass lines are in sync to perfection and drive the undertones of the album.


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