ALBUM ANNIVERSARY: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way

No introductions are required here, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS are one of the largest household names in rock music. Recently they celebrated the twentieth anniversary of modern rock classic By The Way. Before I go into how I came across the album and my thoughts on it, here are some facts about the record.

It was released 9th July 2002 via Warner Bros Records. The writing for this album happened at the tail end of their Californication tour around Spring 2001 and much of the creation took place in the band members’ homes. Guitarist John Frusciante was credited with writing most of the melodies, backing vocal arrangements, bass lines and guitar progressions; this took the sound in a more melodic direction. A change in sound at album number eight is a bold move and one that paid off massively.

Given this was the first full album I had listened to by the CHILIS, I wasn’t aware of how they previously sounded. However, what I was aware of was how much I took to this record. I had come across the album about three or four years after it’s release, I picked it up in a shop after taking interest in the album artwork. This was before I had an MP3 player so on the train home, I placed the album into my portable CD player. I instantly recognised the title track as it was on the radio a lot when I was at school and of course one of the albums main singles. As the tracks played by, I found myself drawn to each one in many different ways. Below are few examples.

From the iconic opening notes and guitar riffs to the reflective vocals, Don’t Forget Me is a solid fan favourite and it’s easy to see why. This song has you transfixed from the word go and it’s easy to get immersed into.

Cabron is easily one of the standout tracks for me on the record. It sounds nothing like the rest of the album yet it fits into it’s place on the album perfectly. The opening tones from On Mercury grabbed my attention instantly and the rest of the upbeat song kept my focus.

I was instantly drawn in by the string arrangements in the intro of Midnight. The transition to the siren sound effects alongside the reflective guitar tones was brilliant. Due to its beautiful melody, this was the one that I played on loop when I first bought the album.

The song that took me by surprise was The Zephyr Song; as it started to play, I kept thinking how familiar it sounded and once the chorus played it clicked. I had heard this song on the radio a tonne of times and never knew who the artist was until I picked up this album. Speaking of iconic songs, you can also hear Can’t Stop, Universally Speaking and Dosed on this record.

Due to the excellent melodies and the laid back yet energetic tones it gives off, By The Way is hailed as one of my all-time favourite albums to this day. It really opened a new chapter in my music discovery and it all started with this record.

Words: Lotty Whittingham


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