Red Hot Chili Peppers: “We Turn Red” – Song 3 From “The Getaway”

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It’s been a big weekend here at the house… On the good side of the ledger the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released the third song from their upcoming LP, “The Getaway.” The new song, “We Turn Red” is, I assume, the last single to be released before next Friday when the LP “drops” as the kids say. On the bad side of the ledger a) I had a bat get in my house, so I spent all night Friday under the bed and b) the wife let me know she is onto how much music I’ve been buying lately. I’ve had to start moving around the house to hidden alcoves in order to post my musical missives. Marriage is a compromise. On to the new music….although I did catch and release the bat… another story for another post…

The first thing that jumped out at me on this new single, “We Turn Red, ” is the return of Chad Smith’s drum sound. Finally he’s out of the doghouse. His drums are the bedrock of this tune. This is the full, strong drum sound I’m used to on a Chili Pepper’s album. I have to admit to you, after the initial blast of drums and guitar, the tempo shifts to a funky, wah-wah riff and for just a second, only briefly, I had a “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” flashback. I’m not suggesting Klinghoffer has suddenly found his inner Frusciante, but that funky riff took me back.

After three very different songs from “The Getaway” I have no idea where this album is going to go. I always assumed the last record, “I’m With You” was going to be a transition to something post-Frusciante, but I haven’t been sure where they were going to go next. Again, I’m three songs in and I’m not sure I have a clearer picture. I will say this, two of these songs are very funky. The Chili’s have always been a funk band but after “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” funk was more of a garnish or a side dish of what they did. Every record got progressively more rock and less funk which is understandable with the guitarist they had. It seems to move forward the Chili Peppers may be moving backward to a more funk-based sound. I’m ok with that in this case because funk is grounded on a great bass line and strong drums… things the Chili Peppers happen to have. It’s going to be hard for them to rock like they did in the Frusciante-era because Klinghoffer just can’t play like that. He’s a nice, melodic, capable player but John Frusciante was like the second coming of Hendrix. It’s like trying to replace Mickey Mantle…

As I said, the song blasts out of the gate with some strong drums and the most aggressive guitar I’ve heard so far on this record. The song has at least three time-signature changes that I counted. They start off rocking, shift to that “Blood, Sugar…” funky riff and then on the choruses there’s an ethereal, acoustic/vocals break that is amazing. As I stressed to my daughter’s friend yesterday afternoon when I was forcing my daughter’s gang to listen to the new Chili Peppers with me at the pool, (someone has to teach the children about rock and roll and it might as well be me…) when you think about how far Anthony Kiedis has come as a vocalist it’s quite amazing. He started as a rapper. The time-changes in this song come fast and often and it’s pretty impressive to hear. Only a band as tight and as talented as the Chili Peppers can pull that kind of thing off. Rush could probably do this, I mean, those guys can do anything, but not many bands can do that in the confines of one song.

“Dark Necessities” remains my favorite of the new songs. The title track, “The Getaway” has really grown on me and I like “We Turn Red.” I look forward to hearing this whole album because it could really go in any direction at this point. This is a great band at a real inflection point. “I’m With You” was more about the indestructibility and resilience of the Flea, Chad and Anthony. They’ve changed guitar players more than anybody outside of Pearl Jam’s drummer situation that I know of. With “I’m With You” proving there was going to be life after Frusciante, “The Getaway,” the second with Klinghoffer on guitar is the statement record. What is the new identity of the Chili Peppers? I guess we’ll find out on Friday….I for one, can’t wait to find out!

Cheers!!

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