Few bands have had as many second acts as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Or third, fourth or fifth acts, for that matter. With a career marked by tragedy and renewal, the group has followed a wayward path that has taken them from Hollywood funk-rock brats to unlikely rock elder statesmen.
The Chili Peppers' initial mix of California punk rock, funk, British post-punk and white-dude rap almost single-handedly sparked the late-80s funk rock explosion, and more recently they've settled into a middle-aged groove that combines their seemingly inexhaustible energy with the wisdom and experimentation of age.
These are the 10 best deep cuts from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Jungle Man (1985)
The Chili’s debut, produced by Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill, was a strange hybrid of Californian funk and British post-punk. More assured was the follow up, with Parliament/Funkadelic supremo George Clinton bring a shot of P-funk weirdness to this wickedly slippery opening track.
Johnny Kick A Hole In The Sky (1989)
The closing song from breakthrough album Mother’s Milk: a psychedelic punk-funk broadside aimed at the US government’s oppression of Native American people. They’ve never sounded so furious before or since.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Weird that the title track of an album that sold 15 million copies counts as a deep cut, but that’s what happens when you’re sandwiched between Give It Away and Under The Bridge. The heaviest of heavy funk, with Smith walloping his skins and Frusciante serving up some blazing guitar.
Deep Kick (1995)
The Chili Peppers with Jane’s Addiction guitarist? Cool, right? Not so much. Its singles aside, 1995’s One Hot Minute offered little in the way of excitement. The exhilarating, old school funk rock of Deep Kick was an exception.
The Chili Peppers had begun to dismantle their bare-chested frat-boy image even before they reunited with Frusciante for Californication. That album was loaded with moments of quiet emotion – and none was as quiet or emotional as Porcelain, partly inspired by a destitute and pregnant women Kiedis had met at a YMCA in Downtown LA.
Warm Tape (2002)
By The Way was the Chili Peppers’ ‘pop’ album, though their version of pop was liquid and luminous. That maverick approach was encapsulated on its lovely penultimate track. A world away from ‘I want to party on your pussy’.
Rivers Of Avalon (2002)
The B-side to 2002 single The Zephyr Song took By The Way’s melodic approach but left its edges slightly scuffed. Frusciante and Flea’s background vocals show just how important they were to the Chili Peppers’ overall sound.
Animal Bar (2006)
Their great unsung masterpiece, the 28-song Stadium Arcadium is an album full of stellar deep cuts, from the euphoric (Make You Feel Better) to the epic (Especially In Michigan). Best of all is the Krautrock-by-way-of Hollywood pulse Animal Bar, a tribute to German krautrock visionaries Neu!.
Even You Brutus (2011)
Exit Frusciante (again), enter Josh Klinghoffer. I’m With You was more balanced than Stadium Arcadium, with the guitar less front and centre. Here it’s Kiedis who steals the show as piano chords crash around him.
The Longest Wave (2016)
Josh Klinghoffer’s second and last album with the band doubled down on the mellow grooves, not least on this delicately poised semi-ballad, complete with characteristically billowing chorus.