Review Summary: RHCP released a fine compilation of hits spanning a fair few of their more commercially successful releases. It might be their best singles and hits but it isn't their overall best. Some notable exemptions, ala Can't Stop and Zephyr Song.
Greatest Hits albums rarely live up to that name. Lets face it; the majority of bands whom release these compilations are doing so mostly because they cash in. Most of the inclusions on the album will have been big hits but altogether, the album as a whole just isn't all that amazing, let down by filler material or downright forgettable songs. In the case of the legendary funk rock (is that the right term?) Red Hot Chili Peppers, they've churned out a fair few albums in their time. Californication and By the Way were huge commercial successes, holding host to a huge number of memorable singles and so forth. With that said, the band are still going as strong today, with Stadium Arcadium receiving mostly favourable reviews from critics and fans alike. This 2003 release has a lot of good songs on it but it also fails to include rather a lot of the band's gems. Which is quite a shame, seeing as the band really have penned a great number of brilliant rock songs.
Songs from Californication are predominant here. Five of them to be exact. Numeracy wise, following closely behind is the album often heralded as their best, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The undeniably beautiful Under the Bridge opens things up; Frusciante's guitar work being the obvious highlight. Kiedis' isn't one of my preferred vocalist but he has his own style that works well for the band - lyrically, Under the Bridge is quite emotional. Apparently the song is about heroin addiction - which would make sense but there have been suggestions that the theme isn't quite as dark as that. Give It Away and Suck My Kiss are the obvious funky highlights of the compilation, proving to be the cream of the band's most raunchy and 'sexy' album (can the word sexy be used to describe an album?). If Californication is your favourite album by the band, classic singles from it will keep you in high spirits. The brilliant title track for instance, as well as Scar Tissue (you've got to love Frusciante's guitar solos in that one) along with the lesser played Otherside and Parallel Universe are all great additions. Furthermore, Road Trippin' is a great inclusion, featuring some truly awesome fretwork from Frusciante, setting a truly cool, seaside mood for the song.
What does startle me is the lack of two of the band's most obvious hits from the hugely successful By the Way album. Can't Stop and Zephyr Song are nowhere to be seen. Seeing as I've never really been that big a fan of Universally Speaking (it's pretty lame in fact) I was sort of disappointed that the band had failed to include them. Dave Navarro era Chilis is adequately covered I feel with one of the band's best from that period. My Friends is quite a beautiful song, even if Dave's guitar solo is really annoying and kind of out of place. Ballad wise, Breaking the Girl makes a nice appearance too - also quite a pleasant addition.
The legendary collaboration with Stevie Wonder that is Higher Ground is obviously here. Whilst I have no real love for the song, it is no real mystery as to why it is here - Flea's funky slap bass line will harpoon through your head and make you want to funk the night away. The two all new songs the band did for this aren't too shabby. Fortune Faded became a single and it isn't hard to see why - Frusciante's catchy guitar line fuses all too well with Flea's boppin' bass and Chad's simple yet tight drumming. Save the Population isn't a poor song but in pales in comparison when against the aforementioned number.
As far as greatest hits albums go, this one isn't too bad. It holds host to some of the band's best and it is a nice collection of everything from the well known parts of their discography. However, the album is in dire need of some obvious exemptions. Especially from the By the Way album...maybe the band themselves just became sick of it, just as I did once upon a time when that's ALL I heard from my sister's bedroom all those years ago...