The 'Greatest Hits Sessions'

RECORDING INFO:
Dates: July - August 2003
Players: Flea, John Frusciante, Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis. 
Additional Performers: None known, apart from a variety of wind instrument session players - see Quotes.
Recorded at: The Mansion2451 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.*
Produced by: Rick Rubin
Engineered by: David Schiffman, Greg Fidelman
Mixed by: Richard Dodd
Released on: Yet to be released in-full. Fortune Faded released November 3, 2003. Save The Population released along with Greatest Hits on November 18, 2003.
*The Greatest Hits and Fortune Faded liner notes suggest that recordings took place at Cello Studios as well. If this is a mistake or if they were actually split over the two studios remains to be seen.

The 'Greatest Hits' Sessions are perhaps the most elusive and mysterious of all Chili Peppers sessions (alongside maybe the Circle in the Noose sessions). When the band went to 'the Mansion' studio to record two songs for the Greatest Hits release in summer 2003, they ended up recording fifteen (or, as Chad has recently said - "like sixteen") instead.

There are some mass debates as to what was recorded during these sessions. The four confirmed, released tracks are:
  • Fortune Faded - re-recorded version of the song from 2001 with a new chorus. Released on the Greatest Hits compilation and as a single. It appears that the band intended to record it specifically, ahead of time.
  • Save The Population - released on the Greatest Hits compilation, originally advertised as 'History'.
  • The Bicycle Song* - released as a bonus track to 'By the Way' in 2006 on online stores: mentioned by Chad in an interview.
  • Runaway* - released as a bonus track to 'By the Way' in 2006 on online stores: mentioned by Anthony in an interview.
*It's unclear why these two tracks were released as extras for By the Way when they were actually recorded afterwards, however additional bonus tracks don't always make sense, see: 'Millionaires Against Hunger' (released in 1989, recorded in 1985) and Slowly Deeply (recorded in 1998, released in 2003). 

Several tracks leaked in October of 2014:
  • Starlight
  • 50Fifty

These are instrumental and unmixed, ala the By the Way rough mixes bootleg. It's unclear if they were ever finished.

Aside from these few tracks, we have nothing but hearsay, guesses and rumours. 

'Eskimo' and 'Bunker Hill' appeared on the Fortune Faded single, suggesting that they were GH Sessions tracks, but were actually recorded in 2001 for By The Way [source] and 1998 for Californication respectively [source].

Compared to its 2001 incarnation, the released version of 'Eskimo' has additional mixing and overdubbing work done to it; this work may have been done during the GH sessions. For example, the guitar, faux-harpsichord intro to 'Eskimo', which isn't present on the BTW rough mixes bootleg. This could well have been done in 2002, prior to the release of By the Way.

In August and September 2003, when the band went back on tour in support of By The Way, they started to perform what's known as the 'Don't You Ever Leave' jam after Throw Away Your Television: new song written during the GH sessions, old song from BTW sessions, or just a jam from soundcheck?

It has been said that songs from the 2004 world tour, such as 'Leverage of Space', 'Rolling Sly Stone''Mini-Epic/Kill For Your Country' (supposedly recorded for a Rick Rubin curated anti-war collection that was never released / also appeared on early track-lists for the Live in Hyde Park release between The Zephyr Song and Californication) and even studio performances of 'Black Cross' and 'Brandy' were recorded, however this is just an educated guess. This article seems to back that up.  
Because those songs were debuted live in 2004, there's the chance that they were first written / rehearsed in 2004 (after the GH sessions), during the rehearsals or downtime for their tour that year. The Greatest Hits sessions were between two legs of the By the Way tour; if they were recorded during that break, why didn't they start playing them on those final three legs in 2003?

Then there's the elusive 'Desiree' - in February 2006 a fan on the stadium-arcadium.com forum spoke to Flea at a benefit for the Silverlake Conservatorium and posted this afterwards:

"I inquired whether they had recorded studio versions of Rolling Sly Stone, Leverage of Space, Mini-Epic, Brandy, etc. He seemed surprised I knew about their existence, and I told him I'd been at Hyde Park. He said they recorded them back during the Greatest Hits session, intending to put them on a new record. But, then Stadium Arcadium came around. As Flea was walking past, Anthony asked him what they were doing with the aforementioned songs. Flea mentioned there was another song called Desiree they'd recorded as well."

QUOTES:

Flea: While we were home we went into the rehearsal studio and then the recording studio. Our intention was to was to write and record 2 songs to put on our greatest hits record that's gonna come out in November. But instead we wrote and recorded 15 songs and they rock. We played a wide variety of music arranged into song format that is among the most diverse and dynamic good feeling shit we have ever done, at least that's how it feels to me. We gave it no thought we just rocked and it worked well, it is the fastest we have ever recorded so much material it was the way to go I can't wait for y'all to hear it. No thinking just rocking.

    Fleamail, August 11, 2003


Anthony Kiedis: It's already in a different direction [to By the Way]. On one side there is obviously still a certain funk-element, but there are also songs that go more towards pop. One is called 'Runaway', and at first I wanted it on 'Greatest Hits'. But we decided against it. Let's see how it develops. 

    MusikExpress Magazine, December 2003 (translated from German)


John Frusciante:
I guess it's about halfway done. Flea had a lot of ideas on this new record, as far as like other instruments like he had like you know a clarinet and a flute come in or um or a saxophone, trumpet or...Yeah he's been practicing trumpet a lot, I'm sure there's gonna be a fair amount of that on the next record...
    
    Virgin Radio, February 18, 2004

Chad Smith: When we were doing our Greatest Hits record in 2003, Warner Brothers wanted a couple extra songs. So we went in to write a couple during the next break on the tour we were on at the time, and we recorded like sixteen songs. They weren't all great, but twelve of them were probably good. So we put the Greatest Hits album out and toured a little bit more, and then we were going to come back and write some more songs, and I was like, “Let’s just write another ten, take maybe seven out of that, add it to the others we’d previously done, and we’ll have a record.” I remember John Frusciante was like, “Hmmm… that was like nine months ago; I’m not really doing the arpeggiated thing anymore. I’m playing differently, I’m listening to different stuff, so I’m going to write different music." So there’s an album that we did that I don’t know if anyone’s ever going to hear.

    Modern Drummer Magazine, October 2011

    Note - that's a paraphrase a decade after the fact; trashing an entire albums worth of music probably involved more of a conversation than that.

Chad Smith: There were some really good songs that we wrote, and we were just writing because they wanted us to put 2 new songs on the Greatest Hits Record... One of them is called 'Bicycle' and the other 'Fortune Faded'. 'Save the Population' was the other one, that's it! We went in and wrote 16 songs. We were in the middle of a tour and took a month off. Most of those songs didn't get finished because of time constraints, so we finished probably about 6 or 7 that Anthony actually sang on. I bet someday they'll come out in a box set kind of thing. 

    DRUMscene Magazine, Issue 71, 2013



Do you have any concrete info regarding the 'Greatest Hits Sessions'? Please get in touch -- rhcpsessionsarchive @ gmail.com

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