photo & text by nacrowe
ONE HOT MINUTE (WARNER BROS, 1995) is a one-off anomaly in the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' catalogue largely because it sounds like what it is: a JANE'S ADDICTION hybrid due to the inclusion of guitarist DAVE NAVARRO. his predecessor on record was the much celebrated and beloved JOHN FRUSCIANTE, who had a completely different style than NAVARRO. where NAVARRO was LUSH, OPAQUE and EXPANSIVE, FRUSCIANTE was MINIMAL and ANGULAR. in my mind neither is better, but in retrospect it is apparent that FRUSCIANTE was a better fit with the overall FUNK ethos of the band. i dont think that opinion is a controversial statement since i believe even NAVARRO would admit such.
but none of this was important to me when i first came across ONE HOT MINUTE tracks like "AEROPLANE" and "MY FRIENDS" in october of 1995 when my family was staying in NYC for a week in between flights from LOS ANGELES to FRANKFURT to our new home in NIGERIA. when we made that huge move we stayed with a friend of my parents that had an apartment in TUDOR CITY and more importantly, had MTV. in CALIFORNIA we never had cable, and none of my friends did either, so i remember being really taken aback by all of the BUGSBY BERKELEY theatrics of the "AEROPLANE" video. in many ways that particular trip represents in my life represents a SHIFT IN CONSCIOUSNESS from the CULTURAL MYOPIA of ORANGE COUNTY to the GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE of attending an international school in AFRICA. seeing MTV for the first time also felt like a shift of sorts. you have to remember that this was all pre-internet and music on cable television was a bigger cultural influencer than it is now.
as an adult i go back to ONE HOT MINUTE all of the time. tracks i frequent tend to be the ones that just set off and EXPLODE like "WARPED," "SHALLOW BE THY GAME," "ONE BIG MOB" and "COFFEE SHOP." NAVARRO and his wah pedal never sounded more well acquainted with one another, in fact it feels like an extensive of his ego. he just absolutely rips and FLEA and CHAD SMITH never sounded more MUSCULAR and TIGHT as a rhythm section in my opinion. my favorite track on the album is "TRANSCENDING" especially the ringing DANIEL ASH-esque textures NAVARRO interlaces throughout the verses that culminate in a series of hammer-ons in the chorus that are truly SUBLIME. so melodic and so satisfying to listen to. makes you wonder what the bend would have sounded like had the continued.
but they didnt. it wasnt a perfect fit and only in the later (and all too brief) JOSH KLINGHOFFER-era of the band have these songs even been reintroduced in a live setting. but yeah, in my mind ONE HOT MINUTE is a definitive CHILI PEPPERS record despite it being a complete one-off. and im completely biased since my middle school band played "MY FRIENDS" at a school assembly, which today sounds like an odd choice. regardless, this record well worth checking out and revisiting.