Saturday, March 19, 2005

mompoet sound journal #7

By the Way
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Warner, 2002
*****1/2 (out of 5)

This cd is my favourite so far. I absolutely love it. It is the best.

My friend Vicky loaned my the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She says:

I chose By the Way for your sound journal because I thought it might be something you would not ordinarily choose to listen to for yourself, and I hoped that it would expose you to a style of music you might not have heard before. Plus, knowing your personality, I thought thay you too would appreciate a strong energetic sound.

Vic and I have known each other since we were 12 years old. We met in Grade 7 at Parkcrest Elementary School in Burnaby. We walked to school together every day through high school and I was her best lady at her wedding. We ended up both moving to Port Moody. She's married and has daughters 13 and 11 years old. Her younger daughter is in the same homeroom as mine at middle school.

Vic likes all kinds of music: pop, rock, jazz, alternative, Latin, classical, opera, zydeco, celtic, gregorian chants, world beat etc. She says:

I am drawn to songs that are raw, acoustic, original and convey a strong energy or emotion. I don't like anything that is too polished, "scanned" or copied and I tend to have a predilection for all songs dark, intense and romantic; nothing perky or Pollyannaish for me.

Her elder daughter takes guitar lessons and has learned songs by Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, so Vic has been able to share her knowledge and love of rock music with both girls. She does not enjoy their taste for popular radio station, The Beat 94.5

All I can do is voice my concerns with what I find objectionable, or distasteful about certain songs. In other words I point out the lack of originality, the poor messages regarding body image, respect of women, materialism and generall, the poor values they convey. Hopefully, they can hear me through the repeating, pounding beats.

So I listened to By the Way about 3 times through before I caught on. At first I was bugged by the hip/hop sounds but then I read about the band on its official website (which is significantly hard to navigate and to read on a screen without wearing magnifying goggles) and also looked at the more concise and larger-print version on the mtv website, where you can also view music videos. I found out that this band released its first album in 1984. Its "sound" is funk/rock. It's been a revolving door for musicians but is now made up of Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary (called Flea), John Frusciante and Chad Smith. I also listened to a "best 10" compilation that my husband had in his collection and got a bit of a feel for the evolution of their music. When I made the connection with the funk/new wave sound that we used to listen to in the 80s, Red Hot Chili Peppers started making sense. By the Way has more of a rock sound than the songs I heard from previous albums. The reviews call it the most commercial album so far, but also the most mature. By listen number 4 I was hooked. I love the lush sound, beautiful harmonies, driving rhythms and intelligent and surreal lyrics. Can you wear out a cd? If so, maybe I'd better buy Vic a new copy. I have been listening to it constantly for about three weeks.

The lyrics are great throughout, but here are some, to give you an idea, here are some from "This is the Place":

I saw you out there yesterday
What did you want to say
A master piece of DNA
Caught in a flashing ray

And from "Can't Stop":

Kick start the golden generator
Sweet talk but don't intimidate her
Can't stop the gods from engineering
Feel no need for any interfering
Your image in the dictionary
This life is more than ordinary
Can I get two maybe even three of these
Come from space
To teach you of the Pliedes
Can's stop the spirits when they need you
This life is more than just a read thru

There are so many good and different songs on this album. The title song "By the Way," and the very well-known "Can't Stop" are catchy and powerful with strong guitar sound and hip-hop parts that just stick in your head. I especially like "This is the Place," a song about family abuse through generations and "Tear," a Beach Boys tribute. There are lots of different sounds on this album: ska, latin, orchestral, funk with a distinctive sweetness that Vic pointed out to me. This is different from the torch-osterone that I noticed on the Green Day album. The lyrics and harmonies on songs like "Dosed," "The Zephyr Song," and "I Could Die for You" are very compelling and sincere. The band's videos are great fun - mini-movies of the best kind. The one for the song "By the Way" has Anthony trapped by a crazy taxi driver who races him all over town until he is rescued by his band mates. I think the taxi driver looks like the convenience store ninja in the movie Ghost World. I wonder?

Red Hot Chili Peppers were famous in the 80s for performing almost naked. Well, they wore tube socks. Unfortunately I couldn't find a concert video that showed this. They still like to perform without shirts, and concert videos indicate that many of their fans emulate this look.

Thank you thank you thank you Vic, for choosing this contribution to my sound journal. I have found a new favourite.

Question: Where'd all this good stuff come from?

mompoet - say it now because you never know

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