Smart Phone MP3 review – John Frusciante

On my phone I have three JF albums – The Will To Death, Curtains and Sphere In The Heart of Silence

At some point quite few years ago, I realized that the Chili Peppers albums I enjoyed most were the ones with Frusciante on them…so when I heard he released six albums in one year (June 04 – Feb 05), I had to check some out.  And that’s just a slice of his 12 solo albums and his 5 contributions to the Peppers’ ouvre.  More properly, he recorded these with Josh K as a two-man band, where some albums feature only his singing and some feature both men singing.

Despite what most of the public thinks, I consider this his main career.  Will To Death being IMO much better, with more emotional pull than any RHCP album I’ve ever heard, sagging a little with the short instrumental “Helical” but picking up again until the end. The dragging beat of “A Doubt,” the reverb sound effects on “An Exercise,” the well placed hi-hats of “Loss”…overall a nice strum-based electric small band outing with an honest “room” sound.  Drum sounds are big for me and this album has a great drum sound.

The seemingly obtuse lyrics paired with this guy’s voice and his falsetto leaps imbue the songs with meanings in slices like the declaration “no one makes a loop a round me” and “I can’t wait for life” in “A Loop,” the regret in “I have thrown so much away” in “Wishing” and the title of “The Days Have Turned” opens up into sadness with “the days have turned away from me.”  Coming at me in a time in my life when nothing coukd be assumed and everything was changing, these scraps of lyrics connected.

I am most familiar with WTD but I do also have two others on the phone. Curtains leans in an acoustic vocal direction similar to his solo shows and seems on a par with WTD, just a newer acquisition for me so not much comment yet.  “The Real” and “Time Tonight” do show me already that this album comes from the same place and that Frusciante will be worth exploring deeper.  Sphere is a bit harder to get into – with shared vocals with Josh Klinghoffer and an interesting lo-fi electronic approach.  Josh, by the way, replaced John in the Peppers for their latest album.

“Inside of Emptiness” is another album from the same time period – though not on my phone at the moment, just gave it a quick refresh spin on the computer…”A Firm Kick”…”What I Saw”…this guy is great.


By Jimmy Lem

Things in my head that make it to my fingers.

For more Jimmy Lem -

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