On July 9, 2002, "Red Hot Chili Peppers" released their eighth album "By the Way".
After the phenomenal success of their previous album, "Californication", it was hard to imagine how the "Red Hot Chili Peppers" were going to surpass it. Three years later, they are back again with a different, melodic, softer and more mature album. An album that almost completely lacks the hallmarks of the band and especially their bouncy funk-rock. The funk sound so identified with the band was replaced by softer, sounds and mature lyrics. This is Anthony Kiedis' first drug-free album and the first in which guitarist John Frusciante took over the writing process, almost completely, in a way that almost led to Flea leaving the band.
And yet, it is one of the band's most beloved and successful albums, an album that sold 700,000 copies worldwide in the first week of its release and about 13 million copies in total, placing it as the band's third best-selling album, after "Californication" and "Blood Sex Sugar Magik".
It can be said that "By the Way" is a kind of personal project of John Frusciante, who was greatly influenced by the music he was listening to at the time. The melodies of "The Beatles", the harmonies of "The Beach Boys", the singing and background vocals in the style of the doo-wop bands, are evident in most of the songs on the album, but not only. John Frusciante noted that he was also influenced by bands such as "Emerson, Lake & Palmer", which he listened to every day during the recordings as well as guitarists such as John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Johnny Marr, Keith Levene (Public Image Limited) and Martin Barr from "Jethro Tull" (in the song "Cabron"). Additional influences on Frusciante during the recordings came from the punk genre with bands like "The Damned" and "Discharge", but these did not find their place into the album, as producer Rick Rubin was less enthusiastic them by and thought the more melodic materials were better.
John Frusciante's dominance was so great that he composed, arranged and wrote the roles for most of the instruments himself, including the bass and vocal roles. He played keyboards, mellotron, and even bass guitar in the song "Don't Forget Me". Frusciante's "takeover" of the writing and recording process did not go smoothly and almost led to Flea leaving the band, claiming that his voice was not heard. To this day Flea claims that he does not like to listen to this album, however Frusciante noted that the recording period of the album is one of the best and happiest he has had. Interestingly, drummer Chad Smith and singer Anthony Kiedis are closer in their feelings to those of John Frusciante, especially Smith that noted this is probably the best collection of "Chili Peppers" songs they have ever released.
The album provided a number of hits including the theme song "By the Way" and "Can't Stop" which are the closest in style to the old and familiar "RHCP". These songs show the creative tension between Flea and Frusciante and it seems that these are the best moments in the entire album. While Frusciante wanted to present more subtle and melodic textures, Flea remained committed to the funk-punk sound that had dominated the band in the past. These two styles collided here with all their might, and the big bang they created led to the wild and cool result that we consider to be the two creative highs of the album. "By the Way" is the band's sixth song to reach number one on Billboard Magazine's Modern Rock Tracks' and is their third song to reach number one on the charts. It remained in first place for 14 weeks. Similar to the single "Dani California", this song is also in second place among the band's songs in terms of the longest stay time at the top of the chart. The lyrics of the song star Dani who is also in the song "Dani California" and the song "Californication". The lyrics of "Can't Stop", on the other hand, came from a random collection of thoughts by Anthony Kiedis, who tried to match them to the pre-written music.
Other hits that this album has provided are "The Zephyr Song", which deals with the healing power of nature and interpersonal connection and "Universally Speaking" which probably refers to Kiddis' relationship with drugs, from which he became clean just before the album was recorded. Other songs in which Kidds tackles the drug problem on the album are "Don't Forget Me", which relates to his rehab process and how he was locked in a cell for two weeks to overcome his addictions, "This Is the Place" whose lyrics are reminiscent of the streets where he used to get drugs and the fact he did not attend the funeral of his bandmate Hillel Slovak due to his drug problems, the devastating "Dosed" also written as a tribute to Hillel Slovak and "Venice Queen" written in honor of caregiver Gloria Scott who helped Kidis get off drugs and died shortly after he bought her a house in Venice Beach, California .
Two decades after its release, it can already be clearly said that "By the Way" is one of the "Red Hot Chili Peppers"'s best albums. With "By the Way" the band has proven that it is capable of producing a different, melodic, soft and mature album and still not lose even one drop of its groove or one of its fans, on the way. Precisely the least known excerpts from the 16 tracks on the album, prove the high level of writing and playing, which is maintained throughout. The string instruments of "Midnight", the punk bass of "Throw Away Your Television", the Latin-acoustic folk of "Cabron", the bouncy "Melodica" playing by Frusciante in "On Mercury", the vocal harmonies and trumpet of "Tear", are all conclusive proof that not only did the RHCP end the 20th century at its peak, but they also opened the 21st century by storm ...