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Ranking: Every Red Hot Chili Peppers Album From Worst to Best

on June 20, 2016, 12:00am
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11. The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

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Finally back to where it all began: fast-paced, instrumental punk-funk weighed down by Anthony Kiedis’ undeveloped vocal skill and confidence. Chock-full of songs to make you feel like you’re loaded at some sketchy DIY venue in 1980s Los Angeles. “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” and “Get Up and Jump” stand out as reminders of just how long Flea has been able to slap bass with reckless abandon. If we turn our gaze forward and squint really hard, I still don’t think there is any way to see 2016 RHCP from here. –Kevin McMahon

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10. Freaky Styley (1985)

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Any way you cut it, Freaky Styley hangs out pretty low on the list of Red Hot Chili Pepper records. But its ineffectualness is understandable. Every band has to start some place, and Freaky Styley is a member of that embryonic trio of records (along with the band’s 1984 self-titled debut and 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan) that saw the band scrambling to find their identity. On some tracks, they want to be Parliament (“American Ghost Dance”), and on others they’re more tied to their punk rock roots (“Catholic School Girls Rule”). Eventually, the band would iron out its assorted influences into a seamless sound all their own, but that time was a long ways away still. Less than a record, Freaky Styley feels more like a curious history lesson of what a great band once was before it found its stride. –Ryan Bray

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09. I’m with You (2011)

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My thoughts on most Chili Peppers records align pretty squarely with popular opinion. That said, I’m with You, the band’s 10th outing, might be where I fork left while others follow straight. If anything, I’m with You is another piece of evidence I can add to the case I’m building that the Chilis largely go as far as John Frusciante will take them (the Dave Navarro-aided One Hot Minute being an exception to that loose rule). All due respect to Josh Klinghoffer, but I’m with You suffers from Frusciante’s absence. Too much of the record feels like warmed-over Chili Peppers cuts from yesteryear. It starts with lead track “Monarchy of Roses”, marred by weird distortion and some curious vocal affects, and the mess just sort of trickles downward. Maybe the band just needs another record or two to find their footing again, and they deserve the luxury of some time to get their shit back together. But it’s hard not to look at I’m with You as anything other than what it is: a rare late-period misstep. –Ryan Bray

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08. The Getaway (2016)

red hot chili peppers getaway stream mp3 album Ranking: Every Red Hot Chili Peppers Album From Worst to Best

The Chili Peppers’ 11th and latest record isn’t even a week old, which puts it at something of a disadvantage when it comes to a proper ranking and filing of the band’s work. But even with its very recent arrival, The Getaway has already carved out a unique niche for itself within the band’s catalog. As Dan Caffery pointed out in his review, this is the least Chili Peppers-sounding record the Chili Peppers have ever done, a trait that can be pretty squarely attributed to Danger Mouse’s seat behind the board as producer. The ambient guitar and piano on “Dark Necessities” feel like an unprecedented creative turn away from the band’s rhythmic alt-funk, as does Josh Klinghoffer’s Radiohead-like post-rock guitar on “Goodbye Angels”. The jury’s no doubt still out on whether this moodier, art-rock lean is a good fit for the Chili Peppers, but it’s definitely interesting, especially for a hall of fame-anointed band now more than 30 years into its career. –Ryan Bray

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07. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

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We are officially back in the old days. Hillel Slovak is on guitar, and Jack Irons is behind the kit. What resulted from the only studio offering to exclusively feature the four founding Peppers is the quintessential, eclectic punk album. Incorporating elements of reggae, metal, and psychedelia, it’s the first album where RHCP’s talent plainly shines through. Perhaps there is no better example than “Behind the Sun”, the first sample of anything not inherently punk from the band. What it shows is the beginning of the professionalism and confidence a band needs to take serious directional risks (and have them pay off). It is also a tragic moment for extrapolation to an alternate universe where Hillel survives and stays with RHCP for the long haul. –Kevin McMahon

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