Red Hot Chili Peppers: Stadium Arcadium

The following is a message from the Society of Music Fans for the Elimination of Double-Disc Releases.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Stadium Arcadium

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2006-05-09
UK Release Date: 2006-05-08
iTunes affiliate

The following is a message from The Society of Music Fans for the Elimination of Double-Disc Releases.

Hello. My name is Jeff. Not only am I the president of TSOMFFTEODDR, I'm also a member. And I'm here today to talk to you about a crisis that's been looming over the industry ever since music was invented back in 1947: pointlessly over-inflated double-disc releases. All-you-can-eat-buffets that someone has revisited one too many times. Gratuitous opuses whose bone structures aren't developed enough to support their own heft. Self-indulgent jams where the guy who said "No" was quickly shown the door.

No, this is not a new problem. We've sent letters to Bruce Springsteen. Guns N' Roses. The Insane Clown Posse (which was hard, because they cannot read). A couple years back we had to briefly abduct Nelly until he promised never to pull that Sweat/Suit thing again. We've got Shania Twain on the speed-dial, and our ambassadors were in fairly constant contact with her after she released those 37 themed versions of Up!. Our logo, as you probably know, is a giant red-tinted mug shot of a grinning Ryan Adams. We're extremely serious people.

And now, in summer of 2006, we are forced to consider the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose monolithic Stadium Arcadium is being pitched as the middle-aged funketeers' return to the huge, bombastic, dare-we-say-it stadium-ready roots that propelled the band into stratospheric heights they could not have possibly expected when they were just wee lads lapping up mother's milk. It's their All That You Can't Leave Behind, their "remember-how-we-used-to-roll?" record. And it's clear that this has been the plan since Day 1 -- these are big ol' songs with big ol' things to prove, particularly the single "Dani California", and parts of disc 2, which is called "Jupiter", I think. Or "Mars". Frankly, it's hard to remember.

Why? Because as laudable as those ambitions may be, they make for magnificently redundant listening over this needlessly long 28-song (!) set, especially when you consider that the Chili Peppers' returns, like those of the Democrats and the Atlanta Braves, have been steadily diminishing since the mid-'90s. The bulk of material here, particularly the sleepier-sounding first disc, serves as further proof that the Peppers have fully completed their transition from sock-rocking party-funkers to triple-A balladeers, albeit with an enviable level of still-percolating success.

Don't get us wrong -- we're not advocating a return to the naked zaniness of Freaky Styley from this group of finely aged fortysomethings, because that would be mortifying. But this record is coasting on gas -- goofy scatting, soft-rock verse, big chorus, repeat. "Desecration Smile", for all its lush production, crashing-in chorus, and "la la la" background vocals, sounds surprisingly sleepy. Songs like "So Much I" scream B-side in their first few minutes. Even "Turn It Again", which wakes up with a loony effects-laden John Frusciante solo halfway through, feels like an obligation.

New ideas do pop up occasionally, but hardly with the frequency that would demand a double-disc release. "Dani California", the first single, is hooky and effervescent and the band's 500th song about its home state. "Hump De Bump" works up a decent lather, but as good as it'll probably sound on tour, it's nothing they haven't done before ("Storm in a Teacup", meanwhile, is, for instance, its easily expendable cousin). "She's Only 18" is dirty enough, but comes off as a half-cooked retread of "Sir Psycho Sexy". Frankly, over two discs, Anthony Kiedis' mono-drone and ludicrous lyrics (would you believe they saved a song called "Death of a Martian" for your song-28 payoff?) lapse into self-parody quicker than ever, and as effective as Flea's all-but-perfected groove and Frusciante's welcome and perverse guitar are, it's hard to remember them when your iPod goes on to the next album. After, like, two and a half hours.

As is often the case with such lengthy meals, Stadium Arcadium is perfectly capable and occasionally ingratiating, but whatever goodwill it musters up is trounced by its redundancy (and the rather juiceless production by Rick Rubin -- he wriggled more sonic power out of the Dixie Chicks). And with outlets like iTunes providing the ability to offer B-sides, outtakes, European-only 5.1-mix rare remix bootlegs and whatnot, there's plenty of other ways to get the lesser material out there. As we here at TSOMFFTEODDR have argued for years, save them for the inevitable housecleaning box set.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.