Red Hot Chili Peppers From Worst to Best

 

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The Red Hot Chili Peppers has officially turned 30.

Since then, we’ve seen many faces represent the actual Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both in the metaphorical and literal sense of the word. The world watched as RHCP made the transition from cock-sock punks to stadium-packing icons. Theirs is a storied discography, one that connects generations and seemingly antipathetic peers. The longevity and sustained relevance of the Chillis is quite the feat, to say the least.

It’s significant when a band can bridge such a variety of gaps: gaps between parent and child, between the music junkie and the passive fan, between the pierced and tatted and the straightlaced and buttoned-up. Common ground is the ultimate blessing music can bestow upon these diverse groups of people. Where, for a minute, we forget our discordant nature and simply share an appreciation with another human being. The fact that I can still feel something when Anthony Kiedis sings about the “scar tissue that I wish you saw” — despite how many times I’ve heard it — is testament to this notion.

 

 

 

Even as I sit here listening to select fractals of their discography to put me in the mood, I’m immediately taken back to another time: It’s 2006, I’m in 8th grade, and Stadium Arcadium has just come out. To this point, my musical digestion had consisted of the whims of my peers and the occasional guilty pleasure kept to myself. Cliched as it sounds, I fell in love with “Dani California”. Then, casually, the entire album and finally RHCP altogether. And that was it: my first sustained musical boner, one that has yet to go soft. This band was my entry point into the depths of music and my interest in all it can offer. Radiohead, Animal Collective, Black Flag, Fugazi … I’m not sure I would have gotten there if it wasn’t for RHCP. They are the lowest common denominator many of us share, a sentiment that echoes loudly in a world where genres swallow fans whole and put them at odds with each other.

As with all careers spanning three decades, there have been peaks and troughs. Perhaps the last couple releases did not take many risks, a fact that has caused many of my professional contemporaries to sour on the Chili Peppers. This polarization, however, has caused some to lose sight of how we got here. That’s where we come in: to give you a tidy list of where the Peppers went right, where they went less-right, and hopefully to engender the same glowing nostalgia running through my fingertips as they glide across these keys.

It has long been known that the C.I.A. and other government agencies have used rock music as a way to torture prisoners, and a new report from the United States Senate Intelligence Committee confirms the playlist included Red Hot Chili Peppers.  AlJazeera America reports (viaStereogum) that C.I.A. officials played a continuous loop of Chili Peppers music during the torture of suspected terrorist AbuZubaydah in 2002.Though the use of music in torture has been banned by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the practice is still permitted under U.S. law. In response, several bands, including Pearl Jam and R.E.M., have signed a petition demanding the U.S. government end the practice and release a list of the musicians whose work was used in torture. However, Metallica, another band known to have been used in torture, denied charges they asked the C.I.A. to stop using their music. “There has been a lot of talk recently about us asking the military not to use our music to ‘soften people up before interrogation,” the band said in a 2013 statement. “We NEVER commented to the military either way on this matter. Any statements that have been made otherwise are not correct.”

 

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers UPSET that their music was used to torture Guantánamo Bay prisoners

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Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith has vented his anger at US authorities after hearing that his band’s music was allegedly used to torture prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

US officials speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera confirmed detailed techniques used by the CIA during the George Bush administration following the declassification process for the report on its own “enhanced interrogation” procedures used after September 11.

Among the techniques used to torture those suspected of being terrorists was exposure to the Californian band on repeat.

Speaking to Smith said: “I’ve heard that they use more… like, hard rock, metal… Our music’s positive man, it’s supposed to make people feel good and that’s… it’s very upsetting to me, I don’t like that at all. It’s bullshit.

“Maybe some people think our music’s annoying, I don’t care, but you know… (they) shouldn’t do that. They shouldn’t be doing any of that shit.”

One specific segment of the Senate Intelligence Committee report allegedly states that a suspect, named as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn Abu Zubaydah, was subjected to the technique at a black site prison out of Guantánamo Bay between May and July in 2002.

Red Hot Chili Peppers music used to torture prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers music used to torture prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

US officials speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera confirmed details techniques used by the CIA during the George Bush administration following the declassification process for the report on its own “enhanced interrogation” procedures used after September 11. Among the techniques used to torture those suspected of being terrorists was exposure to the Californian band on repeat.

One specific segment of the Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a suspect, named as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn Abu Zubaydah, was subjected to the technique at a black site prison out of Guantánamo Bay between May and July in 2002.

The report also reveals the fact that Abu Zubaydah was stuffed into a pet crate and was shackled by his wrists to the ceiling of his cell as well as being subjected to an endless loop of loud music.

Earlier this year, industrial band Skinny Puppy revealed that they invoiced the US government after finding out that their music had allegedly been used as a ‘torture device’ at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Controversy over Red Hot Chili Peppers heats up

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Just as a cultural boycott was enforced on apartheid South Africa, so must one be enforced on Israel.

I was 10 years old when I stole my older brother’s cassette tape of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. In my small town in Massachusetts that fall, I traded in my air guitar for a much cooler air bass, rocking out to Flea’s rhythm on the hit single “Give It Away”. Twenty years later, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still cranking out great music to a huge fan base and were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On September 10, the Chili Peppers are scheduled to play a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. The decision has caused quite a stir. More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling on the band to cancel its performance in Israel. More than a dozen groups around the world have written letters calling on the band to cancel the show. I work with one of those groups.

Why would I call on a band I loved so much as a child, a band I still listen to today, to cancel a concert?

In 1948, my pregnant grandmother, countless relatives, and 750,000 other Palestinians were displaced from their homeland, making way for the creation of the state of Israel. My grandmother never saw her birthplace again, never picked another piece of fruit from her orchard, but spoke and dreamed of a dignified return until her final breath in 2009. Palestinians continue to languish in refugee camps; four million live under a system of increasingly brutal Israeli occupation, and 1.5 million Palestinians are relegated to second-class status inside of a state that is falsely presented as a democracy.

Boycott, divest and sanction

In 2005, Palestinian civil society, consisting of more than 170 unions, women’s organisations, cultural groups, academic institutions and nearly every other facet of society, called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the state of Israel until it complied with three basic demands based on international law: an end to occupation, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and equal rights for Palestinians living inside of the state of Israel. Following the ethical, effective, and rights-based approach of cultural boycott against apartheid in South Africa, tens of thousands of voices in support of Palestinian rights have stated clearly: it is time to take action for freedom, justice, and equality.

Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese band scheduled to open for the Chili Peppers in Lebanon, cancelled its lucrative slot after band members were asked to pull out of the concert in protest to the Chili Peppers’ decision to play in Israel. A growing list of artists, including Bono, Santana, the late Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Cat Power, the Klaxons, the Gorillaz, and the Pixies, have refused to cross the international picket line and have pulled out of scheduled shows. Roger Waters, frontman for Pink Floyd and human rights advocate, said the boycott call is “a perfectly legitimate, nonviolent… political tool” and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated in support of cultural boycott, “Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa… it would be wrong… to perform in Israel.”

What I have learned in my years as a spoken word performer is that art is not above politics. Reading my work in the Jim Crow South to an all-white audience would not have upended racism, nor would it have sparked a journey of introspection among the masses. The power of art lies with the oppressed, it wrote the freedom songs in South Africa, tuned the humming of prisoners in the H Blocks in Northern Ireland, and laced the chants against despotism in Tahrir Square.

Artists were targeted and shamed when they played Sun City in South Africa and lent aid to the image of the apartheid regime. This is why Boycott From Within, a group of Israelis, has called on the Chili Peppers to cancel their show. When art is used to bolster support for an oppressive state, when it is used to “present Israel’s prettier face” as an official for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs proclaimed in the New York Times, and when it used as a form of propaganda as stated by a former Israeli Foreign Ministry official – “I do not differentiate between hasbara [propaganda] and culture” – it is time for artists to end complicity.

Art alone cannot break down a wall that appropriates Palestinian land and resources, it cannot uproot illegal settlements, it cannot tear down checkpoints that restrict freedom of movement, it cannot release prisoners from administrative detention, and it cannot rebuild water wells. But artists and their art can inspire millions to take conscientious action against occupation and discrimination.

Towards justice

As the Chili Peppers concert date approaches, there are millions of people under Israeli rule who are unable to reach the concert simply because they are Palestinian. The Chili Peppers will not meet with Palestinians who worked in cultural centres attacked by the Israeli army, they will not hear the work of young recording artists who are separated by walls and checkpoints, and they won’t meet with the Palestinian hip hop artist who cancelled his tour because he was denied the right to leave his open-air prison. These details are left out of concert planning, but they are the daily reality for occupied, displaced, and oppressed Palestinians.

While I may not be that young kid strumming my air bass on my parents’ deck in Massachusetts, I still turn up the radio when the Chili Peppers come on. That is what makes writing these words so difficult. It is an easy choice to stand on the wrong side of history, when the history books have yet to be written. It is easy to call a show in Israel just another show when few accurately label Israel an apartheid state. At the moment, it still takes little effort to ignore the plight and call of millions of occupied Palestinians. But it is not the just stand. Martin Luther King once proclaimed, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.

King was right. This week, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have the option to bend toward justice or enable oppression.

Complaints made about Red Hot Chili Peppers’ exposed nipples during Super Bowl performance

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

53 complaints were made about Red Hot Chili Peppers’ exposed nipples during their Super Bowl performance last month. Oh well…

The complaints were made to the Federal Communications Commission, the body which regulates television and radio broadcasts in the United States. One of the complaints referenced Janet Jackson’s controversial Super Bowl performance of 2004, during which one of her nipples was exposed. The complaint, via Deadspin, read: “The halftime show had a gratuitous display of nudity and the nipples of more than one adult were were displayed on Broadcast TV. If Janet Jackson can’t show a nipple, then neither should they.”

Following their performance with Bruno Mars at the American Football event, Red Hot Chili Peppers had to confirm that their instruments were not plugged in during the half-time show at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. The performance attracted the largest audience in the history of the sporting event, pulling in 115.3 million viewers.

During the show, many social media users commented that the band’s instruments did not appear to be plugged in. Blues guitarist blues artist Joe Bonamassa tweeted: “Flea… I mean we all know, but for god’s sake at least try to humor the children.”

In a long message on the Red Hot Chili Peppers website, bassist Flea explained that the bass, drums and guitar were not amplified or plugged in, but the vocals were. He wrote that the band were offered no other option by Super Bowl organisers NFL, and following careful consideration decided to go ahead and appear at the event in spite of having to mime.

“So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal, like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it… We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Barclays Center – Super Hot!

Michael "Flea" Balzary and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at WFAN’s Big Hello To Brooklyn at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on February 1st, 2014 in New York City.

Michael “Flea” Balzary and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at WFAN’s Big Hello To Brooklyn at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on February 1st, 2014 in New York City.

Of all the rock’n’jock concerts capitalizing on New York City’s proximity to the Super Bowl this weekend, only one had the cheerleaders of both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks shaking their pompoms simultaneously to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away,” as balloons repping each band’s team showered down on the revelers. That’s because Saturday night’s “Big Hello to Brooklyn,” the first Chili Peppers concert in New York City since 2006, was a rock’n’jock concert put on by a company that could pull off such a feat: sports-radio station WFAN.

The stagehands were dressed as referees and the cheerleaders shimmied to the Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and ZZ Top’s “Tush” between opening acts, but the real athletes were the Chili Peppers themselves, who in their early fifties have the stamina of musicians half their age. Flea shook his head like a wet dog during opener “Can’t Stop” and later shook his body like a simian in the funky “Ethiopia.” He and frontman Anthony Kiedis even moshed a little, tugging at the cable connecting Flea’s bass to his amp, just before set closer “Give It Away.” Either the Chili Peppers play hard or this was no mere warm-up for performing with Bruno Mars during Sunday’s halftime show.

Overall, the group was in fine form, even though it had every excuse to be tired. Midway through the set, Flea told the audience, “We’re just about to go into a period of hibernation and make a new record.” Talking about a need to “progress,” the bassist said Saturday night’s show was meant to be “one last blowout,” and the Chili Peppers played their 17 or so songs as though the concert was the band’s last hurrah.

Even though the band’s first record turns 30 this year, it focused its set list on the last decade or so. The Chili Peppers’ cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” – a punky highlight in the show – was the only Eighties song the group played. Instead they focused on hits (“Under the Bridge,” “Californication”) and the finer points of their most recent album, 2011’s I’m With You, like the sex-charged “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” It was a party.

And in typical party fashion, Kiedis adorned himself in unusual underwear, though it wasn’t the “sock only” look he and his bandmates were known for in the Eighties. Instead, he wore a red bra that some free spirit hurled onstage. He had come onstage wearing a long-tailed suit coat and dress pants with one leg trimmed to reveal (no surprise here) a long tube sock.

Similarly, he flexed his ability for bizarre between-song banter. “Is there anybody here from Flatbush,” he asked after “Dani California,” apropos of nothing and adding Brooklyn neighborhood Greenpoint to the mix. And before “Under the Bridge,” he said to the audience, “Thank you for having tie-dyed pubes above your vagina – or not.” Then he turned the attention toward his guitarist. “Josh does,” he said. And during the thank yous after “By the Way,” he singled out a concertgoer on stage right and said, “If I was closer, I’d make out with you.”

But he didn’t have to make good on such an offer: the Brooklyn audience indulged everything the band did. After pouring in steadily through the evening’s opening bands – one of which, new-wave punks New Politics, might have given the Chili Peppers a run with their frontman’s athletic feats like breakdancing and Iggy Pop-style walking over the audience’s hands – the crowd seemed hungry for the main event. (During the Seahawks cheerleaders’ routine, however, a collective of seemingly mismatched guys wearing Peyton Manning jerseys and New York Hardcore hoodies seemed satiated just by ogling the dancers.) For the band’s three-song encore, the crowd was so enthralled with Chili Peppers songs “Around the World,” “Soul to Squeeze” and even “Give it Away,” releasing a collective roar as the balloons descended in the latter song, they barely noticed the cheerleaders dancing along. Touchdown, Chili Peppers.

Set List:

“Intro Jam”
“Can’t Stop”
“Dani California”
“Otherside”
“Factory of Faith”
“Snow ((Hey Oh))”
“I Like Dirt”
“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”
“Higher Ground”
“Under the Bridge”
“Ethiopia”
“Californication”
“By the Way”

“Encore Jam”
“Around the World”
“Soul to Squeeze”
“Give It Away”

Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover Led Zeppelin at Super Bowl s

Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

The band will play their version of ‘Dazed And Confused’ at the prestigious half time performance

Red Hot Chili Peppers will cover Led Zeppelin when they play the Super Bowl half-time show.

The rockers will play the prestigious half-time performance at the annual American Football event with Bruno Mars.

Speaking to Artisan News, the band’s drummer Chad Smith said the band were surprised to be asked by Mars to play the event with him, but said that his band were all “great people”. When asked what they would be playing, Smith replied: “We’re going to be playing Led Zeppelin’s live version of ‘Dazed And Confused’.”

Super Bowl XLVIII takes place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2. U2 will premiere their new song ‘Invisible’ during the event. The track will appear in an advert announcing a new partnership with Bono’s charity (RED) and Bank Of America.

Meanwhile, Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, The Roots and Fall Out Boy will perform at a series of pre-Superbowl events at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum between January 30 and February 1.