Somewhere between the sunset strip and Death Valley, RHCP remain standing
More than on nodding terms with dysfunction, The Red Hot Chili Peppers 11th album was born out of crisis. However, it wasn't drug-based burn out or inter-band discord that threatened to derail the veteran rockers but a sense of torpor, musically and spiritually. Not unlike the existential questions that have bedevilled U2 for over a decade, after 35 years together, whither the world’s leading slap bass funkateers?
The answer is mostly successfully answered in a shake-up that sees bearded oracle Rick Rubin step aside (more for scheduling reasons that anything more significant) for the first time since 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse step in as producer. It’s a smart move - the king of clipped compression and studio warmth has tinkered with RHCP's rather tired sound and encouraged them to play to their considerable virtuoso strengths.
The Getaway sure tickles all the right boxes - there is a daft knockabout song with a slap bass intro, a sad song probing the dark underbelly of the City of Angels, and lyrics written using a RHCP random lyric generator algorithm.
But the songs which do suggest the Chilis just may be an ongoing concern are worth hanging around for; “new boy” Josh Klinghoffer essays some really lovely Frusciante guitar shimmer on the title track and on We Turn Red, drummer Chad Smith unleashes his inner and elemental John Bonham.
Elton John turns up to add tasteful piano to the slow jam syncopation of the rather excellent Sick Love but it’s Feasting On The Flowers - all vocal dexterity and locked-in killer groove - and the sophisticated Encore which finally reveal signs of life in one of the America’s longest surviving bands.
Somewhere between the sunset strip and Death Valley, RHCP remain standing. You really have to admire them for the way they keep keeping on.