Reelin’ With The Feelin’.
Milo here, doing a little dance and then drinking a little water.
25 damn years ago, a moderately successful funk-punk outfit put out a game-changing album that had shifted the rock platform into something a bit more… groooooooovy.
That funk-punk outfit was, of course, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Mine, Reuben’s and probably a whole of other people’s favourite band, The Chili Peppers have been, for 33 years now, completely unique in the rock spectrum, hitting the balance between funk and jazz beautifully. This is down to the brilliant musicality of each of their members. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis has perfected his rap-sing style to extraordinary effect, with this particular album being a landmark for him. Drummer Chad Smith knows how to make a strong beat and knows it well, keeping the music structured and keeping the overall crazay guitar and bass in check. One of the best guitarists of all time, John Frusciante evolved throughout his on-off time with the band, with some of their later works being up there as some of the best guitar work I’ve ever heard and, although this is one of his earlier albums with the group, the rapid riffage seen was just a great indication of what was to come. Finally, bassist Flea makes RHCP the band they are, using his legendary talent on bass to bring the funk sound that the band has been acclaimed for.
And Blood Sugar Sex Magik is their seminal album. Taking their chaotic early sound and refining it to a more structured experience, Red Hot Chili Peppers found the best example of what funk rock can be and, with this album, set the standard for it. It has all the hallmarks for a legendary album: wild ass sexual innuendos, heavy riffs, funky bass and an all round light and fun atmosphere about really. As a huge RHCP fan, I can safely say this is one of their best albums and I’m sure many others would agree. I could’ve reviewed Nirvana’s Nevermind, which was also released on this day, but, y’know, this is so much better (unpopular opinion alert).
If you want an early indication as to how godly this tune machine will be, you don’t have to look much further than the opening belter The Power Of Equality, with it’s radicalised political message and underlying funk. One of Kiedis’ highlights on the album, the song boasts spectacular songwriting (with lines like “Wake up motherf**ker and smell the slime“) and equally brilliant delivery. We’ve also got a notably windy riff which guides the song and some excellent bass and drum licks.
Mixing top-notchiningly is another quality song in If You Have To Ask. Like The Power Of Equality, this song is very vocal orientated, with Frusciante’s higher harmonies taking full stage and Kiedis getting straight up down n’ dirty for the chorus. Add yourself a laidback guitar riff and solo, some laidback bass and some not-so laidback drums and you’ve got yourself some funky background music to make sweet, sweet funk babies to.
Another smooth mix leads us to another single from the album, Breaking The Girl. One of the more experimental tracks on the record, the song features a powerful performance from Kiedis, as well as some great backing vocals. The acoustic guitar, bass, flutes and weird percussiony bridge adds to the weird atmosphere on the track, accentuated by the weird-ass video. However, Chad Smith really takes hold with some great, albeit unconventional, drumming.
GOD, that mix is dope. After that strange detour, we’ve got possibly the funkiest song on the album Funky Monks. Now, this is a song that has rapidly grown on me, with its sexy basswork and guitar riff. Everything about this song is just damn funky, like the title suggests, we’ve funky vocals, drumming, guitar and bass, with two damn bass breaks that make me turn into jelly. This song just gets you every time and, before you know it, you getting down and dirty with the closest thing to you.
Following that sexy sex fest, we have Suck My Kiss, one of my favourite songs on the album and by RHCP, in general. Okay, I’ve mocked Reuben in the past for putting this in his top fifteen heavy songs, but even I can’t deny the raw energy in Frusciante’s dirty riff, accompanied by Flea doing some mad shizzle on the bass. Kiedis comes at ya one more time with some rapped lyrics that could make a nun hot n’ bothered, and Smith beats the drums like an inappropriate analogy.
Supposedly written about Kiedis’ brief relationship with Sinead O’ Connor, I Could Have Lied is a slowing of the pace, leading to an overall more heartfelt ballad really. With moody guitar parts throughout, Kiedis comes at you with some sort of mopey poem. As beautiful as it all is, I didn’t really want this from an album titled Blood Sugar Sex Magik, reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally.
An appropriate pace change to something a bit more funkay, Mellowship Slinky In B Major is another groovy babe magnet, if that babe is an excellent Frusciante turn. Indeed, while we’ve got Kiedis, Flea and Smith doing all that is right in the world, Johnny boy is absolutely great in this track, from the harsh opener, to the funky main riff, to the spectacular “oo-o-o-o-o-o-o-oo”‘s. If you want a taste of what John Frusciante was before he was colliding with shadows or whatever, this is what you want.
Very similar but with back-to-standard awesome Frusciante, The Righteous & The Wicked delivers a rather good bit of usual funky, dancey Chili Peppers fare, really, nothing more, nothing less.
Following that, however, is one, if not, the definitive RHCP track, Give It Away. There’s a reason it’s so acclaimed as a song, and why we here at Stuff And That flippin’ love it to the extent that we do, SPOILER ALERT, it’s because it’s so damn good. We’ve got Kiedis coming at ya, firing from all cylinders, with marvellously nonsensical lyrics and a brilliant delivery that never fails to get me shouting along in pure musical ecstasy. We’ve also Chad Smith whacking drums with such vigor that you can feel the energy in every beat. John Frusciante delivers with a riff that has since become a standard for funk, rock and alt music for anyone who wants to be considered “great”. However, Flea shines the most on this track, with a bassline so infectious I could play it for your grandmother, put it right in her face, and she’d kick me in the nuts and do a little dance. It’s so damn funky, so damn energetic and, as I said before, so damn good.
After that we got another funk-fest, but one that I’m not too keen on. The title track, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, with it’s admittedly catchy guitar part, also has one of the less impressive vocal turns, with Kiedis going a bit too low in the verses while also performing a quickly grating and repetitive chorus. Nevertheless, it’s not at all bad, it’s just not to the standard I’d expect from the rest of this album. Still funky-ass.
Yet again another favourite follows after that, however, with The Chili Peppers’ breakout hit, Under The Bridge. Though a noticable depart from the familiar sound we know from the band, there is nowt bad about this gentler, catchy tune. Completely owned by Kiedis, with a nice lil’ riff as well, the vocalist recites a love song to good ol’ California, the first of many from the band. The also signals the early beginnings of the sound developed in Californication, which would later define them.
Then we have another funk machine in Naked In The Rain, which has everything you’d expect from what has preceded it. Another Flea driven track, the bass forms the main riff, with the guitar providing a bit of extra support, making for a chaotic experience, along with some standardly brilliant drumming and vocals.
Similar to Naked In The Rain but a whole lot more sexay, Apache Rose Peacock is the final big highlight of the album, with a great bit o’ bassering and guitar work. However, Kiedis’ stupidly sexual vocals and great vocalisation really makes this track for me, as well as some notable drumming on top of that.
After that we have The Greeting Song, which is a very guitary track. It displays one of the weaker turns from Flea but one of the stronger ones from Frusciante, with his riff being gloriously infectious. On top of that, we have some standard, quality drumming and vocals.
Following this, Kiedis comes back at you with a stellar vocal performance in My Lovely Man, with some of the best chorus performances this side of Under The Bridge. Moreover, Frusciante opens up the song with brilliant, high pitched guitar that was made to get you up and doing something, if not dancing then doing the housework or summat, with Flea taking over in the back end and providing some almost disco-level groove for the choruses.
Then we have the longest song on the album, the 8 minute epic Sir Psycho Sexy. The explicit lyrics seen in Apache Rose Peacock and the eponymous track make a glorious comeback as Kiedis delivers a tale about sexual deviancy that you could make some beautiful babbers to. Helping the overall aura of the sex is the pairing of Flea & Frusciante, providing a melodic double attack that takes the cake and f**ks it.
Finally, ending the album on a somewhat sour note, we have the cover They’re Red Hot. It’s a bit shite and it’s a cover, so we’ll just sweeeeeeeeep it under the rug.
With production from the legendary Rick Rubin, you can expect nothing less than brilliance. The veteran producer varying genres really helped guide the band by allowing them the creative freedom that they didn’t necessarily have when working on Mother’s Milk, and you can really hear it in the music as the album itself is easily superior. While the recording quality is a litttttttle bit quiet, not really that noticibly though, it’s relatively clean enough, while allowing that all important filth to make those sexual lyrics all the more sordid. The mixing is one of the most impressive features on the album, actually, with Brendan O’ Brien, future producer of Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire, The Battle of Los Angeles and Renegades, coming together with Rubin to make a subtle but silky smooth mix that I can’t help but admire. Wow, I got bit technical there, din’t I?
Overall, Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a legendary album and while there are some underwhelming tracks on it, they certainly don’t hurt the album’s overall aura of phat-ass-phunk. Plus, every other song on this LP is an absolute classic of funk rock, alt rock, 90s rock and rock in general. If you’re a fan of music, fun and happiness, you better give this masterpiece a listen, or I will hump you.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations