Truth Belongs to Everybody.
Yo, this be Reuben. We’ve already made it clear how much we like the Chili Peppers on this website, as they’ve topped mine and Milo’s Top Ten Bands, held places in our Favourite Albums pages, and we even did a Top 25 Chili Peppers Songs, but, during all of this, One Hot Minute has hardly got a passing mention. The only time it got any type of major coverage was in Milo’s RANKED Chili Peppers albums, where it placed near the bottom of the pile. Oh how bloody wrong that was, eh? One Hot Minute is a great album, and it should be forgotten no longer. And as a footnote, I think I should add that it was the first album I ever bought aside from a Spongebob Squarepants CD, so I have a certain nostalgic connection to it.
The mid-90’s were very much a transition period for the band, as Frusciante left for the first time, Kiedis delved back into drug addiction and Dave Navarro (of Jane’s Addiction) was new to the band. In this time, however, they released this album, which although unpolished, is a gem and better than any of their 80’s works and all they’ve released since Stadium Arcadium.
There is a unique air to One Hot Minute that hasn’t been captured since, and was never explored too much before it. It’s heavy. And I mean heavy. Dave Navarro clearly had a lust for heavy-weight riffs, because he injected the album full of the things: making it a hard hitting, metal-like funk machine. Turns out, Navarro, based on this record, is a fantastic guitarist, with an eye for show-off bars and riffage with some awesome solo ability.
Indeed, instrumentally, One Hot Minute showcases an hour of the Chili Peppers at their best. I suppose it’s not quite so well-rounded as the instrumentals in their later works, but in terms of sheer skill, the point stands. Flea deliberately went for a less is more approach in Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but he ditched that philosophy in a lot of this album, as his Fleabass sounds as insane in places as it does in his 80’s works, with some bass solos to die for. Chad Smith is also on top form in One Hot Minute, replacing the more constant, funk-influenced drumming on Blood Sugar with his more fill-heavy style of Mother’s Milk. In tracks like the title track, Warped and Deep Kick, the power and skill of the band hits a peak, which might not have since been matched.
One Hot Minute isn’t all unrelenting power chords and instrumental skillage, however, it knows when to take a break. Songs like My Friends, Falling Into Grace and Aeroplane are the prime examples of the more patient material in the record, as they contain a lot of the understated musicianship of Californication but mix with the filthy funk of Blood Sugar and present aspects of Jane’s Addiction to make a unique concoction that can only be found on One Hot Minute.
There is a brilliant variety to this album, as it mixes aspects of metal, funk, rap, alternative rock and some psychedelia; it takes what the band had already used and exemplified it with some new influences, to make some kind of awesome cocktail that I really like the taste of.
I mean, some things in One Hot Minute don’t work. It’s not perfect, and I can see why it is ignored by so many. Firstly, it’s got a couple of stinkers. Particularly, Pea, which is just an obscene, cracked up rant by Flea. Then there’s the blunt Tearjerker, which although with its potential and nowhere near the same situation as Pea, is let down by Kiedis’ worst vocal output to date. And I wouldn’t call it a stinker, but Deep Kick is a bit of a confusing one, which although with its impressive musical quality could be better if it was edited some more. To be honest, Tearjerker and Deep Kick amount as pretty good songs, it’s just Pea that sucks, but the point remains and it shows the slight inconsistency to the record.
The other main flaw of the album is indeed Anthony Kiedis. Usually, he’s one of my favourite singers and frontmen, but in 1995 he was really drugged up and that affected his vocal performance, which is less consistent than usual. Nonetheless, for a lot of the record he is great, it is just some moments of weakness that stick out.
It must be said, One Hot Minute is something of an untamed beast. Musically, it’s awesome, and there are some real stand out tracks. Coffee Shop, Shallow Be Thy Game, Warped, Walkabout, Falling Into Grace and the title track would all make an appearance in my personal Top 25 Chili Peppers tracks, in particular the title track. This ‘title track’, One Hot Minute, is a thing to behold. It embodies all that is great about the album in 6 minutes of psychedelic riff heaven: a masterful piece of controlled chaos in which powerful riffs, pounding drums and memorable vocal sections bombard you in an orgy of funkadelic awesomosity. And NAH-VAH-RO. Navarro, Navarro, Navarro. I like your guitar on this song. I really like it. IT’S JUST SO COOL.
Coffee Shop, too, is a piece of hectic atmosphere but with an unfathomable aspect of control, as Flea’s slap bass alongside Smith’s solid beats expertly drives Navarro’s raw power chords and Kiedis’ slimy lyrics.
Despite the flaws, One Hot Minute has 50 minutes of unstoppable quality. Its the unpolished atmosphere of the album, in part, that is behind the album’s so unique aura. It screams from start to finish for more editing, more hooks and less dirty power chords, but I find myself screaming back at it to shut up, because it’s flippin’ brilliant and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All these factors set One Hot Minute apart from the rest of the band’s discography, and take it as you will, but I love it. The heaviness, the funk, the groove and the progressive tones, they all come together and it is absolutely brilliant.
In conclusion, One Hot Minute may not be quite perfect as a full product, but I think it holds the band’s musical talent at its best. It’s rammed full of immense heavy guitar work, incredible bass lines and convoluted yet solid drum beats to make for a record that twists and turns in some kind of muddy stream of psychadelic funk metal that I can’t stop loving. Every time I listen to One Hot Minute, the amazing things about it just get even better, and the weaker aspects of it just get more insignificant.
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