Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Red Hot Chili Peppers

EMI Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released upon an unsuspecting public in 1991. Working with producer Rick Rubin, who was known for his work with metal giants Slayer among others, the band (vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith) was focused on creating a release that would change their world. And change it did. The media got behind Blood and literally shoved and pushed and grinded the three singles ("Under the Bridge," "Breaking the Girl," and "Give it Away") onto your local rock radio station. MTV played the videos a lot (yes, MTV used to actually play videos!), further cementing the band as a mainstream rock act. Combined, the trio of singles brought the Red Hot Chilli Peppers mainstream success that continues today.

I divide this release into quarters. Because 4 doesn't go into 17 evenly, I don't consider track 17 "They're Red Hot" as nothing more than a hidden track that is mentioned on the back of the CD.

The first quarter opens with "The Power of Equality," making it quickly evident that the band is more than the trio of singles. Flea's bassline drives this song. "If You Have to Ask" is propelled by guitarist John Frusciante's riff. This duo quickly establishes that the band is more than Flea's basslines. The single "Breaking the Girl" highlights this quarter. Flea's contribution to the band's sound is highlighted in "Funky Monks."

The second quarter starts out with my favorite non-radio single song on this release is "Suck My Kiss." I like the attitude in Kiedis' lyrics, the music of Flea, Frusciante, and Smith is focused and tight with syncopated starts and stops. My second non-radio single song on this release immediately follows, "I Could Have Lied." The subtle music, the sincere lyrics like "I could never change / just what I feel/ my face will never show/ what is not real," and the emotional guitar solo take this song over the top for me. "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" and "The Righteous & the Wicked" showcase Flea, Frusciante, and Smith jamming. These two songs offer the most simple riffs on the release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The third quarter features the remaining radio singles, "Give It Away" and "Under The Bridge." Thirteen years later, I still get goosebumps when I listen to "Under the Bridge." Where Mother's Milk fails to make a connection with me, "Under The Bridge" hits home musically and lyrically each and every time I hear it. Flea's bassline and guitarist John Frusciante's riff provide a perfect example of how the guitar and the bass can play together, without having the two instruments play the same riff.

The following lyrics describe loneliness and the love affair between the band and Los Angeles: "It's hard to believe/ that there's nobody out there/ it's hard to believe/ that I'm all alone/ at least I have her love/ the city she loves me/ lonely as I am/ together we cry." There are no fancy words, only bared emotion. The other tunes "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" and "Naked in the Rain" don't really do much for me. I skip over these two when I listen to the release. As a title track "Blood" is weak and boring. Drummer Chad Smith provides a solid backbone in "Naked in the Rain" but can't save the track from . . .. (yawn) sorry. What was I saying?

That leads up to the final quarter. "Apache Rose Peacock" does nothing for me. The lyrics are stupid "Sittin' on a sack of beans / sittin' down in New Orleans / You wouldn't believe what I've seen / sitting on that sack of beans." A great release doesn't allow for filler tracks and that's what this one is. For as much as I like the opening duo of "The Power of Equality" and "If You Have to Ask," I think track 14 "The Greeting Song" should have been the first track. Instead, burried in the last quarter of the release, it sounds out of place. It's still a great song, just misplaced in the sequence of the songs on this release. I can get into the lyrics of "My Lonely Man," though the music doesn't do the emotional words justice. "I love you too / See my heart / it's black and blue / when I die / I will find you." The last song in this quarter "Sir Psycho Sexy" is a methodically slow cluster. The lyrics "A long, long, long, long time ago/ Before the wind before the snow/ lived a man, lived a man I know" are too stupid to accept. I can't suspend my belief in reality long enough to analyze the following: the subject lived a long time ago from the present (in the past), but the speaker knows him. How credible is the speaker if he has been around for a "long, long, long, long time"? It doesn't get any better in the last stanza as Kiedis sings, "Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the funk will make me freak / if I should die before I waked (sic) / allow me Lord to rock out naked." "Waked" and "naked" don't rhyme just because they are spelled similarily!!

This release would have been so much stronger if the band would have had someone, anyone, tell them to quit with the self-indulgent crap. Listen to this release in the following order:

Track 1 - The Greeting Song Track 2 - If You Have to Ask Track 3 - Breaking the Girl Track 4 - Suck my Kiss Track 5 - I Could've Lied Track 6 - Give it Away Track 7 - Mellowship Slinky in B Major Track 8 - Under the Bridge

In my opinion, those are the best songs on this release and, listened to in that order, this release rocks. I dropped "The Righteous & the Wicked" in this lineup as it duplicates the vibe of "Mellowship Slinky in B Major." Unfortunately, the band released it with 8 other tracks that drag down this release. Eight right out of 16 is 50% and I can't, in good conscience, recommend a release where I skip through half of the tracks.

Rating: D

User Rating: B-



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