By Amy Ryan
Updated May 08, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Gus Van Sant

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea complained last week that the band’s magnum opus, two-disc, 28-song, two-hour CD Stadium Arcadium had leaked to the Internet, but you can still stream it for free, legally and in its exhaustive entirety, on VH1.com before its release in stores tomorrow. Drink some coffee first, though, because Stadium is a surprisingly mellow affair; almost all the songs are ballads or mid-tempo numbers at best. There’s very little of the thrashing funk that has made RCHP one of the top live acts for more than 20 years. (No wonder, when the band played Saturday Night Live over the weekend, they reached all the way back to ”Give It Away” for their second song instead of showcasing one of their sleepier new tunes.)

Now, you could attribute the album’s introspective tone to the members’ advancing age and maturity (there’s a word I never thought I’d use in connection with this quartet, but c’mon, I bet ”Animal Bar” is probably the first rock song since ”Give Peace a Chance” nearly four decades ago to name-check Norman Mailer). But I’m not sure even the most die-hard Pepperhead wants to listen to nearly two hours of variations on ”Californication” and ”My Friends.” (Thank goodness they didn’t go with their original plan to release a three-disc set.) Can someone please put the pep back in the Peppers?

What do you think? Take a listen and report back.

addCredit(“Red Hot Chili Peppers: Gus Van Sant”)

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