This tune is so underrated. It’s no secret I’m a huge Chilli Peppers fan. I saw them play Reading Festival in 1994 touring Blood Sugar Sex Magik (along with Ice Cube, Cypress Hill and Primal Scream what a time to be a teenager). Again on the One Hot Minute jaunt in a football Stadium in Ipswich, Hyde Park for Californication, I’ve bought every album. Worn out a shedload of T-Shirts. I’m just as happy seeing them with John in or out of the band. They’re interesting with a different guitarist. They’re triumphant with Frusciante owning every note in the band.
Somewhere between the hit train of By The Way into the epic grandeur of Stadium Arcadium they squeezed out an unimaginatively titled compilation album that captures the big 90’s centric MTV phase of the band. From the pre- Give It Away era there are only two tracks and one of those is a cover. Closing out the disc we’re two fan dollar clinching unreleased tracks. Fortune Faded is a banger for sure. It got the air time at the time and it helped Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits splash down nicely. The other exclusive recording though. That’s what we come to talk around today.
Snazzy Jazzy drum break intro gives way to a JF ear worm guitar sustain soaked riff. “History’s so strong” what a clear concise way to begin. “History’s so strong” just as the chiming intro eases you into a suspiciously stealthy groove “History’s so strong” the intonation on each repeat varies like it’s a conversation of three words repeated over and over “History’s so strong”
Nick Cave has famously been quoted dissing the Chili’s as an omnipresent low quality marker of the alternative world. They get a lot of stick. Sure there’s a lot of songs about California. Yes there’s a house sound and even a signature funk groove. I’m relatively sure they must regret the socks on cocks photo shoot by now.
“Sing another drinking song the honky tonk will do make another breaking bomb your favorite ingénue”
There’s a rapid fire vocal style that is 100% RHCP. You know it when you hear it. And yet the thing for me that makes them stand out is when they soar. Save The Population has it. Wet Sand has it. Under The Bridge, ScarTissue, Dark Necessities all have it. That moment when the uplift kicks in and a rock band become a endorphin surge. That stuff is slathered all over Save The Population.
“Eyes wide with revelation, Shine at the police station and when the verdict comes round I’m sure that you will go down”
Listen to what the band are doing at that moment. Swirling their heavy rock groove around that growing vocal. They’re masters of their art form. Like Green Day, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam they’ve managed to transcend the decade that made them and become a For All Time type band. More than any of the mega-bands I just mentioned they have their own unique sounding thing. You know RHCP the moment you hear them. Even if they’ve got Danger Mouse tweaking their sound or a loaner from Warpaint or Jane’s Addiction on the six strings.
Save The Population snuck on to an almost 20 year old Greatest Hits album as an unreleased filler hoping to rinse a sale from the fans. It deserves to be there on the quality of the songwriting alone.