Red Hot Chili Peppers - Greatest Hits Review

With the ballad Under The Bridge - a bittersweet love-cum-drug-song about LA, the Red Hot Chili Peppers sold their brilliant BloodSugarSexMagick album by the millions. None of the other tracks sounded much like the single, but its solid fusion of funk, psychedelic textures, punk and rap made it one of the seminal albums of the early nineties. John Frusciante, the Hendrix-influenced guitarist, found the sudden rise to fame too much to cope with and left the band blaming the fatigue of touring. While he took a long descent into a drug-fulled hell, the remaining band members played with various guitarists before settling on Jane Addiction's Dave Navarro. After some rumours of more drug-related problems, the followup to Blood was finally release four years later in 1995. One Hot Minute was a major sound departure from its predecessor, mostly due to Navarro's metal-influenced guitar playing and a much more melancholic slant.

Navarro ended up departing and a cleaned-up Frusciante reintegrated the band, less wet behind the ears but bearing the scars of his drug addiction.Tha band gave birth to Californication sounds like some midpoint between One Hot Minute and Blood - the funky moments are few and far between with a more commercial sound emerging from the ensemble. The music was not bad and their songwriting was still very strong but the crazy inventiveness had disappeared - unsurprisingly, it was a major hit causing them to stick with the formula for By The Way - much to the pleasure of their newly acquired nu-metal fans.

The videos
On the DVD, we see a get (almost) all the videos the Chilis made between Blood and By The Way. The included videos are as follows:

  • Give It Away
  • Suck My Kiss
  • Under the Bridge
  • Aeroplane (BTS)
  • My Friends
  • Scar Tissue
  • Around the World
  • Road Trippin'
  • Otherside (BTS)
  • Californication (BTS)
  • By The Way
  • The Zephyr Song (BTS)
  • Can’t Stop (BTS)
  • Universally Speaking.

All of these come with band and crew commentaries as well as some behind the scenes footage (noted BTS on the list). All the commentaries are slightly out of sync with the video so the music doesn't fit the image but you don't really focus on the music that much whilst listening to the commentary anyway. The behind the scenes are exactly the same length as the video and play with the video commentary meaning there's little point watching. The commentaries are pretty good - there's plenty of interesting facts and debate about how successful some of the videos were. The image quality is quite good with all the videos given a full-frame transfer despite some of them having been filmed in widescreen.

The videos themselves are generally very good mostly thanks to the likes of Gus Van Sant and Stéphane Sednaoui directing a few of them. Mixing vivid colour and black and white, along with computer animation and German Expressionism, almost all the videos have a good repeat viewing value. Frustratingly, one of my favourites, Anton Corbijn's version of My Friends, has not been included since the band felt it made them look too arty - they could have at least included it as a bonus but sadly they didn't...

The sound:
We get a DD stereo from the releases - it's generally very clear and with a good dynamic range though I would have personally preferred PCM...

The subtitles:
An impressive amount of subtitles have been included - all the extras are subtitled as well as the songs. Though the subtitling of the dialogue is sometimes incorrect, it's good to see they went to the effort of subtitling the extras when so many don't go to the effort of doing that.

The extras:
Two extra videos are also included Soul to Squeeze (from the Coneheads OST) and Higher Ground (Mother's Milk) - two very good but very different videos - showing two different sides of the Peppers.
Meet The Band briefly introduces you to the voice of each band member so you can know who is speaking on the commentaries.
By The Way documentary (14 mins) takes a longer look at the making of the Amores Perros inspired video.
Finally the extensive Roadwork (80 minutes) follows the band on their Californication tour and takes you behind stage, filming their meetings with Chris Rock, Woody Harrelson, John Lurie and many other alternative guests who the band talk to about their spirituality, their meditation and their yoga training. Some live performances are also edited in between making it more watchable - it's not a bad feature but you have to be quite a big fan to watch it avidly - seeing Flea and Woody have a hand stand competition may have been funny if you were there, but doesn't necessarily add that much to the film as a whole! It is still a good addition to the DVD and the fast forward button is always an option...

With a good amount of extras, the DVD is very good value for any RHCP fan. They've gone the extra mile to put out a decent product and - bar the omission of one video - includes all their videos thus far. Definitely worth buying for every fan out there.

8 out of 10
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out of 10

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