What I think makes the Red Hot Chili Peppers so great is how they have been able to stay relevant for so many generations of fans. They have been making music for 32 years now and they are still putting out quality music that fans of alternative rock can still love. It goes without saying I am a huge fan of these guys, I even went as far as to read Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography Scar Tissue, which is excellent. They have been able to transition and fuse genres like rock, funk, punk, and more to create colorful blends of fun, engaging, and sometimes incredibly heartfelt songs. It has been a great experience going through all of their records and hearing them mature throughout the decades. I hope you enjoy my ranking of all of their albums up until now.
10: Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)
I cannot say that this is an awful record, but it plays better when looking at it as a piece of history rather than something actually good. It is a short album, from a band who clearly did not have much money, and while nothing here really seems memorable outside of the opening track, it could have been worse, especially considering how old it is. Hardcore fans might get entertainment out of listening to where the band started, but outside of that there is really nothing here worth checking out.
9: Freaky Styley (1985)
Whether it is because they were being less controlled by their record label or because George Clinton was serving as producer, this album is definitely a step forward from their debut. The funk sounds that would make them famous were clearly coming through and the record just was more consistently good. For me, personally, this still is not a great record and it is incredibly dated but it is still a step in the right direction, nonetheless.
8: One Hot Minute (1995)
This is ambitious, and not necessarily a bad record, but it definitely is not my thing. This record has its moments for sure, but it gets boring way too fast, which is ironic considering the album title, and the assortment of drawn out songs is probably to blame. Songs like “Aeroplane,” “My Friends,” and “Tearjerker” are all solid songs that definitely work, but the majority of this record seems too self-indulgent for its own good. It is clear the band wanted to make something great here, the ambition was there, but the end result was definitely lacking.
7: I’m With You (2011)
This record felt a little transitional, like One Hot Minute, as the band did their best to compensate for John Frusciante’s departure. The results are messy but at the very least interesting as the group plays with some new sounds that were unfamiliar for them. While the quality is mixed, I still think more songs work here than do not and fans of the band will get enjoyment out of this.
6: The Uplifting Mofo Party Plan (1987)
Despite their rocky start, this record is where the band really feels to be fully confident and in control of their music. It is still a silly album that is hard to take too seriously, especially because of how dated it is, but that does not mean it is not a fun time. It is definitely clear why the group started getting the attention they were getting at this time. I know if I was a teenager in the late 80s this would probably be the exact kind of thing I would have listened to. Also, that cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” always makes me laugh.
5: Mother’s Milk (1989)
This record marked the birth of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most notable lineup. Not only were Flea and Anthony Kiedis here, but Chad Smith and John Frusciante had also joined. This works out great as you begin to hear through the punk rock influences and really see what the band would eventually become. The record still sounds a little rough but moments like “Higher Ground” make you realize why this band had begun to blow up. This is a fun, occasionally powerful, record that is a very important moment in the band’s discography.
4: By The Way (2002)
A departure from the more funky sounds of the band’s previous records, By the Way instead focusing on mellower, more melodic songs. The main reason for this shift in style was guitarist John Frusciante being heavily involved with the writing of the lyrics, guitar and bass lines. This is a great and underappreciated moment in their discography and deserves plenty of attention. While singles like “Can’t Stop” and “By the Way” are definitely amazing, my favorite on here has always been the ballad “Dosed” which I think is probably in my top 3 Red Hot Chili Peppers songs of all time.
3: Stadium Arcadium (2006)
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are no strangers to producing albums that are longer than they probably should be. Amazingly, despite being over two hours long, spanning two discs, Stadium Arcadium never feels tired or gets boring. There are a variety of sounds going on here but as a whole the album still feels slowed down, similar to By The Way. Considering there are 28 tracks on here, it is amazing just how many memorable moments there are. I mean “Dani California,” “Snow (Hey Ho),” “Stadium Arcadium,” “Warlocks,” “Wet Sand,” “Tell Me Baby,” “Hard to Concentrate,” “If,” and “Death Of A Martian” are all spectacular songs and they are all housed on this record. This is the Red Hot Chili Peppers perfecting their standard formula and making the most of it.
2: Californication (1999)
The album that is home to many of the band’s best hit songs, Californication marked the return of John Frusciante and the Red Hot Chili Peppers everyone had grown to love. This is an energetic, exciting rock record that never gets dull which has made it a fan favorite. Exploring themes of fame, the California lifestyle, and drug addiction makes this record emotionally satisfying as well. Also, this record has the best singles of any Red Hot Chili Peppers album in my opinion. While “Around the World” is a fun opener, it is the songs like “Scar Tissue,” “Otherside,” and the title track that serve as the memorable core of this record.
1: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
It was the record that put the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the map and to this day continues to be seen as their best work by fans and critics alike. With their classic lineup intake, this album is just 74 minutes of punk/funk enjoyment. I remember first hearing this album while sick in bed and just being more invested in it than any other record I had listened to at that point. This has always been a favorite of mine and I am always going back just to listen to a few songs from it. It is also worth noting that “Under the Bridge” is not just my favorite Chili Peppers song but one of my favorite songs of all time, period. This will always be seen as the first, and brightest, explosion that got the wheels turning for one of my favorite bands.