Californication (1999) By the Way (2002)
Release date 7 June 1999
|Label Warner Bros.|
Artist Red Hot Chili Peppers
Producer Rick Rubin
|Released June 8, 1999 (1999-06-08)|
Recorded December 1998 – March 1999
Studio Cello Studios, Los Angeles, California
Genres Alternative rock, Funk rock
Nominations Grammy Award for Best Rock Album
Similar Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, Alternative rock albums
Californication is the seventh studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was released on June 8, 1999, on Warner Bros. Records and was produced by Rick Rubin. Californication marked the return of John Frusciante, who had previously appeared on Mother's Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik, to replace Dave Navarro as the band's guitarist. Frusciante's return was credited with changing the band's sound altogether, producing a notable shift in style from the music recorded with Navarro. The album's subject material incorporated various sexual innuendos commonly associated with the band, but also contained more varied themes than previous outings, including lust, death, contemplations of suicide, California, drugs, globalization, and travel.
- Writing and composition
- Promotion and release
- Critical reception and legacy
- Track listing
Californication is the Chili Peppers' most commercially successful studio release internationally, with over 15 million copies sold worldwide, and more than 6 million in the United States alone. As of 2002, the album had sold over 4 million copies in Europe. The record produced several hits for the band, including "Otherside", "Californication" and the Grammy Award-winning "Scar Tissue". Californication peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200.
The record marked a significant change in style for the band: Rolling Stone's Greg Tate noted that "while all previous Chili Peppers projects have been highly spirited, Californication dares to be spiritual and epiphanic". Another critic, Billboard's Paul Verna, mentioned that the album brought out "the group's softer, melodic side," as opposed to their previous six albums, which was contemplated by bassist Flea's decision to abandon slapping his bass and instead choosing to play with a pick.
In 1984, the Red Hot Chili Peppers started off as a "funk-punk band, driven by Kiedis's exuberant rapping and Flea's manic slap-bass" (Sanneh, 2002). Guitarist John Frusciante left the band in the middle of a 1992 tour that promoted their critically acclaimed album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It took over a year for the band to find a new guitarist with whom to record officially. Dave Navarro, formerly of Jane's Addiction, was invited to join the Chili Peppers after Arik Marshall, who had finished the remaining tour dates for Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was fired. Navarro influenced the band's ensuing album, One Hot Minute, by incorporating various elements of heavy metal and psychedelic rock, which was something that the Chili Peppers had not previously been notable for. Compared to Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute was a commercial disappointment, selling only half of what Blood Sugar Sex Magik had originally sold. Critics dismissed the album, claiming it was weak and unfocused. Shortly after the release of One Hot Minute, Navarro was fired due to internal differences.
In the years following Frusciante's departure from the Chili Peppers, he had developed a vicious addiction to both heroin and cocaine that left him in poverty and near death. Friends convinced him to enter drug rehabilitation in January 1998. In April 1998, following Frusciante's three-month completion, Flea visited his former band-mate and openly invited him to re-join the band, an invitation Frusciante readily accepted. Within the week, and for the first time in six years, the foursome gathered to play and jump-started the newly reunited Red Hot Chili Peppers. Through a number of lineup changes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released multiple compilation or greatest hits album prior to Frusciante's return, who pushed for a transition from the group's "funk-punk" selves into a more "mellow-progressive rock act" for Californication.
Writing and composition
Much of the album was written in the band members' homes in the summer of 1998. Kiedis and Frusciante often spent days together discussing song creation, guitar riffs and lyrical content. Bass and percussion aspects of the record were constructed through jam sessions and the individual work of Flea and Smith.
Most of the material and lyrics throughout the songs in the album came from the "personal and professional turmoil" that different members of the band went through/were currently going through at the time (Larkin). This resulted in the "sensitive approach that one might not expect from a band whose followers are skate-punks and fraternity boys" (Larkin). Anthony Kiedis's main point behind this album was to "tell tales of wondering souls who've lost their way searching for the American dream in California" (Larkin).
Californication's lyrics were derived from Anthony Kiedis' ideas, outlooks, and perceptions of life and its meaning. "Porcelain" resulted from Kiedis's meeting with a young mother at the YMCA, who was attempting to battle her alcohol addiction while living with her infant daughter. Kiedis also had a love interest in Yohanna Logan, a fashion designer whom Kiedis met while she was working in New York City. Kiedis involvement with Logan influenced his multiple examinations of love throughout Californication, in songs such as "Porcelain" and "This Velvet Glove." Sarcasm was a concept that Kiedis had dealt with in the past, and he ultimately crafted a song around it. He was inspired by former band-mate Dave Navarro, whom he considered to be the "King of Sarcasm". Frusciante approached the guitar line present in "Scar Tissue" as an attempt to use two notes that are played far apart, but produce a "cool rhythm". He had explored this technique on his first solo album, 1994's Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt. Frusciante considers "Scar Tissue" to be a "very simple example of the technique, but I think it's a style that sounds like me". The guitarist made use of slide guitar-playing for the solos in the song. The song "Emit Remmus", which is "summer time" spelled backwards, was inspired by Anthony's brief relationship with Melanie C of the Spice Girls.
"Get On Top", a song which contains significant use of a wah pedal, was formed after a jam session conducted shortly after Frusciante had listened to Public Enemy: "I came up with [the rhythm to the song] on the way to rehearsal—just tapping it out with my foot." The understated guitar solo played in the middle of the song was originally intended to be more noticeable, according to Frusciante, who was playing screaming guitar solos. He changed his thought process after listening to Steve Howe's guitar solo on Yes' "Siberian Khatru": "the band sounded really big—and they're playing really fast—and then this clean guitar solo comes out over on top. It's really beautiful, like it's on its own sort of shelf. For 'Get On Top' I wanted to play something that contrasted between the solo and the background." "Savior", a song found towards the end of the album, features heavy effects, most notably an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth with 16-second delay. Frusciante notes that the sound is "directly inspired by Eric Clapton's playing in Cream. If you listen to the actual notes, they're like a Clapton solo—they just don't sound like it because of the effects."
The hit "Around the World", which harkens back to the Chili Peppers' funk-influenced sound, was constructed by Frusciante at his home. The rhythm and beat, however, are intricate; this required him to play the song with the rest of the band rather than alone for them to understand it. The bass lick was composed in "maybe 15 minutes," according to Frusciante: "Flea is the best bass player in the world. His sense of timing and the way he thinks is so crazy." The title track of the album was among the most difficult for the band to complete. Frusciante felt compelled to write an appropriate guitar ensemble that would appropriately complement the poignant lyrical content, but encountered difficulty. The song was barely making progress, and would have been scrapped had it not been for Kiedis' urgency to include it on the album. Frusciante completed the final riff two days before recording, after drawing inspiration from The Cure's soundtrack song to "Carnage Visors". The title track was intended to represent Californian lifestyles and, more specifically, the "fake" nature which is associated with much of Hollywood. It references Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and uses considerable imagery to capture the evocative nature of California.
The record was a change of style for the Chili Peppers, especially compared to their previous album, One Hot Minute, which combined various elements of heavy metal and psychedelic rock. Although Californication still contains some funk rock songs (such as "Around the World", "Get on Top", "I Like Dirt", "Purple Stain" and "Right on Time"), it leaned towards more melodic riffs (for example, "Scar Tissue" and "Otherside") and focused on songs with implemented structure rather than jams.
The album featured a few outtakes that didn't appear on the studio album. "Gong Li" and "Instrumental #1" were released on the "Scar Tissue" single. The instrumental "Teatro Jam" was released on the "Around the World" single while "How Strong" was featured on the "Otherside" single. "Instrumental #2" was released on a bonus disc for the album. In 2006, iTunes exclusively released "Fat Dance," "Over Funk" and "Quixoticelixer" along with the album for download. "Slowly, Deeply" an instrumental track, would later be released as a b-side to the "Universally Speaking" single in 2003, while "Bunker Hill" would be re-worked on during the band's Greatest Hits sessions in 2003 and released on the "Fortune Faded" single that same year.
In August and September 2014, unreleased demos from 1998 were leaked to the internet. Many of the demos were of songs that made the final album or released as b-sides, however some were different from the final album version with the most notable differences being a reggae influenced version of the title track with different lyrics and a very different vocal melody, a version "Scar Tissue" with a longer intro, a slower version of "Purple Stain" with added lyrics and different chorus, "Porcelain Alice", the original version of "Porcelain" with different lyrics, an instrumental version of 'Quixoticelixer' (with the working title "New Wave Song"), "How Strong Is Your Love", the original version of "How Strong" and the original demos for "Fat Dance" and "Bunker Hill" (originally titled "These Are Not My Dreams of Bunker Hill"). The leaked demos also included never before heard songs such as "Plate of Brown", "Tellin' a Lie", "Mommason", "Andaman & Nicobar", "Boatman", "Sugar Sugar" and "Trouble in the Pub". In February 2015, a collection of rough mixes of outtakes from the Californication sessions was leaked. This group of songs, which were recorded on April 21, 1999 at The Village Studio, contains a version of "Trouble in the Pub" with vocals along with "Blondie", a song Frusciante mentioned in an interview as an album outtake however the song turns out only to be a rough mix of "Instrumental #2". An unmastered mix of the album also exists that features alternate versions of some songs, such as extended endings ("Easily"), extra verses ("Savior"), alternate choruses ("Around the World") and different guitar mixes ("How Strong").
Promotion and release
Rick Rubin had produced their two previous albums. However, the Chili Peppers decided to look for other producers for Californication. David Bowie had shown great interest in working with the band and asked to produce the album; however, the Chili Peppers chose to remain with Rubin for Californication. Rubin had, in the past, granted the Chili Peppers creative freedom on their recording material; this was something they thought necessary for the album to be unique, and could only occur with his return. Recording took place at Cello Studios in Los Angeles. In early 1999, following the recording process, the band played "Scar Tissue", "Otherside", and "Californication" to their managers, and it was decided that "Scar Tissue" would be the lead single for the album. To support their reunited line-up, the band played various proms across the country to promote Californication. It sprouted a competition, which called upon high school students to write essays on "how they could make their schools better, safer, happier, more rocking places, so that they didn't have to go to school afraid. If you wrote the essay, you got a free ticket to the show."
Californication was released on June 8, 1999, debuting at #5 but peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. In Europe, the album peaked at #5 on the UK Top 40, #1 on the Finnish, Austrian, Swedish and New Zealand charts, and #2 on the French Top 40. It was certified gold just over a month later, on July 22, 1999, and its continuing sales have resulted in it being certified six-times platinum. In March 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' albums were made available to purchase on the iTunes Music Store. Albums bought there included new previously unreleased tracks ("Fat Dance", "Over Funk", and "Quixoticelixer"). In Germany, it was the band's best-selling album, staying on the Media Control Charts for 114 weeks (more than 2 years) and selling more than 750,000 copies, reaching 3× Gold.
Critical reception and legacy
Californication received favorable reviews in contrast to its less popular predecessor, One Hot Minute, and it was a greater success worldwide. Rolling Stone credited Kiedis for his drastically improved vocals: "[his] vocal cords have apparently been down to some crossroads and over the rehab, and returned with heretofore unheard-of range, body, pitch, soulfulness, and melodic sensibility." Songs such as "Otherside" and "Porcelain" were called "Pumpkins-esque", while the album as a whole was "epiphanal" and the "RHCP furthermuckers are now moving toward funk's real Holy Grail: that salty marriage of esoteric mythology and insatiable musicality that salvages souls, binds communities and heals the sick." Other critics credited the album's success to the return of Frusciante. AllMusic's Greg Prato said that the "obvious reason for [the band's] rebirth is the reappearance of guitarist John Frusciante", considering him to be the "quintessential RHCP guitarist". The album as a whole was "a bona fide Chili Peppers classic". Entertainment Weekly also credits Frusciante with transforming the band's sound into a "more relaxed, less grating, and, in their own way, more introspective album than ever before". Mark Woodlief of Ray Gun commented that "'This Velvet Glove' strikes an intricate balance between a lush acoustic guitar foundation and anthemic rock," Woodlief continued "the disco intro to 'Parallel Universe' gives way to a scorching Western giddy-up motif in the chorus, and Frusciante's Hendrix-like excursions at the song's close."
While many critics found the band's new sound refreshing, NME criticized the Chili Peppers for rarely using their trademark funk sound, asking: "Can we have our brain-dead, half-dressed funk-hop rock animals back now, please? All this false empathy is starting to make my removed rib tingle." Pitchfork, while considering the album a triumph over One Hot Minute, felt Californication lacked the funk that was ever-present in Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It went on to scrutinize some lyrics for being overly sexual, but also considered Frusciante to be "the best big-time American rock guitarist going right now". Critic Robert Christgau gave the album a one-star honorable mention rating, describing the band as "New Age fuck fiends" and citing "Scar Tissue" and "Purple Stain" as highlights.
Over the years, Californication has maintained its popularity. "Scar Tissue" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2000. The album was ranked number 399 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and, in 2006, the Chili Peppers recorded a five-set playlist for AOL Sessions that included "Scar Tissue" and "Californication". The album produced many staple hits for the Chili Peppers; five of the sixteen songs on their Greatest Hits album were taken from Californication.
The album received criticism for what Tim Anderson of The Guardian called "excessive compression and distortion" in the process of digital mastering. Stylus Magazine labeled it as one of the victims of the loudness war and commented that it suffered from digital clipping so much that "even non-audiophile consumers complained about it". An early, alternately mastered version of the album with a different track listing and mixing, probably a pre-release candidate, has been circulated on the internet.
The information regarding accolades attributed to Californication is adapted from AcclaimedMusic.net
Immediately following the release of Californication, the band embarked on a world tour to support the record, beginning in the United States. To culminate the US leg of their tour, the Chili Peppers were asked to close Woodstock '99, which became infamous for the resulting violence. The band was informed minutes before arriving that the crowds and bonfires in the fields had gone out of control. When the Chili Peppers performed a tribute to Jimi Hendrix's song "Fire" to finish their set as a favor to Hendrix's sister, the disruption escalated into violence when several women, who had been crowd surfing and moshing, were raped and nearby property was looted and destroyed. Kiedis felt that "It was clear that this situation had nothing to do with Woodstock any more. It wasn't symbolic of peace and love, but of greed and cashing in ... We woke up to papers and radio stations vilifying us for playing 'Fire'."
To kick off the band's European tour, the band staged a free show in Moscow's Red Square, on August 14, 1999, to a crowd of over 200,000. Kiedis recalled the situation: "Red Square was so filled with wall-to-wall Russians that we needed a police escort to get near the stage." Following the European leg, the group did a show in New York City, at the Windows on the World, for KROQ radio contest-winners, and then at the Big Day Out festival in Australia following several Japanese tour dates. Flea, however, began to feel the repercussions of touring causing the band to set up concerts that were less strenuous, and consequently less financially rewarding, for them. These shows would finish the remainder of the Californication tour. As one of the last shows before the release of their next album By the Way, the Chili Peppers played Rock in Rio 3.
All tracks written by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
1Around The World3:59