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Bumper crop for Peppers

April 09, 2006|Chris Lee | Special to The Times

OVER the course of its 23-year run, the Red Hot Chili Peppers has gone through its fair share of Bowie-like image morphs. The group started life as a feral tribe of funk-punks famous for wearing socks on their genitalia, lost its original guitarist to a heroin overdose, then revamped, grew up and graduated to rocking arenas in the early to late '90s.

For the band's latest venture, however, it steals a page from the playbook of one of the great dinosaurs of prog-rock, Yes, which released a triple album ("Tales of Topographic Oceans") and a double album ("Relayer"), both in 1974.

In May, the Peppers will release the 28-track "Stadium Arcadium," which will be divided into two discs, "Jupiter" and "Mars."

"Let's say you recorded 22 songs, enough material for a double album," says Peter Standish, vice president of marketing for Warner Bros. Records. "And you want to distill that down to the best 12 for a really great album. Well, in this case, the guys recorded 38 tracks -- three albums' worth -- and distilled it down to 28. Sometimes you get on a creative roll."

"Stadium" was produced by super-hitmaker Rick Rubin in the same Hollywood Hills hideaway where he and the group recorded the career-defining "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" album from 1991, which has been certified seven times platinum. But don't expect the minimalist approach taken on the last two Peppers albums. In a further departure from the group's early influences such as Gang of Four and Parliament/ Funkadelic, Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis has cited early Beach Boys and early Electric Light Orchestra as musical touchstones for "Stadium Arcadium."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 11, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Yes albums: The Fast Tracks column in Sunday's Calendar section said the rock group Yes released a triple album ("Tales of Topographic Oceans") and a double album ("Relayer") in 1974. The group's triple album was "Yessongs," released in 1973, followed by the double album "Tales of Topographic Oceans" in 1974. "Relayer," also from 1974, was a single album.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday April 16, 2006 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Yes albums: The Fast Tracks column about the Red Hot Chili Peppers last Sunday called a 1974 Yes album "Tales of Topographic Oceans" and said it was a triple set. The title is "Tales From Topographic Oceans," and it was a double set. Also, it said another 1974 Yes work, "Relayer," was a double set; it was a single.

Bassist Flea recently explained the band's creative burst to the U.K's Daily Telegraph: "One guy wasn't miserable, one guy wasn't on drugs, one guy wasn't distracted -- everyone was really focused on the work at hand and respectful of the others' opinions. We've never had that before."

In an era when Internet downloads and file-sharing websites have significantly eroded record store sales, releasing a double album is hardly a sure thing commercially -- especially with a suggested price of $21.98. Standish, however, remains buoyed by the Smashing Pumpkins' boundary pushing, platinum-selling 1995 double album.

"Single album versus double album isn't the issue," he says. "And there is no marketing scheme here. Bottom line is, is the music great? Our answer is yes. We think we have another 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' on our hands."

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Paul Oakenfold goes Hollywood

SUPERSTAR DJ Paul Oakenfold is practically a household name in his native U.K. But given his vigorous touring schedule, most fans don't know that when he's not on the road, Oakenfold lives in Los Angeles and has found a lucrative sideline scoring soundtracks for films including "Collateral," "Swordfish" and "The Matrix Reloaded."

It was probably just a matter of time then before he hooked up with an actress -- in this case, Brittany Murphy (of "Sin City" fame but infamous for her sing-songy rejoinder "I'll never tell ... " in Michael Douglas' 2001 "Don't Say a Word"). She contributed vocals to one song, "Faster Kill Pussycat," on Oakenfold's June album, "A Lively Mind."

Working with Murphy, the DJ-producer had to alter his M.O. to bring out her sonic similarity to a young Madonna.

"I realized she needs a lot of direction as an actress, so I really had to coach her to get exactly what I wanted, to bring out the best in her," he says. "We dimmed the lights, made sure no one else was in the room, and I told her what I needed and supported her."

For Oakenfold, the experience was a shade different from any production duties he had taken on before -- although geographically appropriate for L.A. "I thought, 'This must be what it's like when a director is working with an actress!' "

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Tees like Lennon used to wear

SINCE the dawn of rock, music fans have emulated rock stars' sneering attitudes and contrarian ethos -- but not least, their groovy fashion sense. The Worn Free T-shirt line takes all that guitar hero-worship to its logical extreme, offering re-creations of obscure tees worn by yesteryear's rock gods.

John Lennon is most thoroughly represented, with eight designs including a shirt that declares its wearer a "Working Class Hero" and another bearing the words "Come Together" above a peace sign. Punk stalwart Joey Ramone gets the commemorative treatment with a version of his shirt depicting a crocodile imbibing the noxious Australian alcohol "Swamp Water." Frank Zappa's predilection for wearing skintight T-shirts merited five designs. And country rocker Gram Parsons' bands, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Fallen Angel, are on one Worn Free tee each.

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