Sunday, 9 March 2008



Just because their fans are pricks, does that make them pricks?  Not necessarily so.  Also does it make their music (their art) bad?  Quite frankly no.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most derided acts of the alternative nation era.  I guess their bravado didn’t sit comfortably with the angst that was being exorcised wholesale at the time.  Here was an act that actually got the girl and was proud of it.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the fifth studio record of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and is generally regarded as their masterpiece, their best work.  And when removed from the circus and personal elements surrounding it, it is actually a very good record.

Firstly there is the fact that it is seventeen songs.  Not many albums of the time (or of any era for that fact) can sustain a record for that length/distance.  However this one does.  It’s not quite the Minutemen but it is at least dedicated to Mike Watt.

For almost ten years now a copied cassette version of this album has sat in my Ford Focus.  And its looking like the tape will outlast the car having already outlived many formats.  This record maybe flabby, it maybe predictable but damn if it isn’t great driving music.

Influenced as much by funk as it was punk, this is an athletic workout where all four members of the team know their place and the job that they have to do.  With John Frusciante providing the guitars and Rick Rubin manning the controls this what in many was exactly what alternative rock was about pre Seattle.

Housing five singles it is actually these tracks that somewhat misrepresent the album at hand.  Away from blatant posturing of “Give It Away” and emotional blackmail of “Under The Bridge” (a song whose lyrics used to make my mother laugh when it played on the store stereo where she worked) the big songs are the lesser-championed album tracks that bolster proceedings.

And it begins strongly as the celebration of “Power Of Equality” offers a positive exuberance that sets out the album’s stall offering each player space/room to demonstrate their wares.  It is a driving opening that leads straight into track two and “If You Have To Ask” without missing a beat and likely the listener not even noticing.  This sees them wandering into their trademark P-Funk territory complete with its group celebration choruses.  This is something that is then repeated with welcome in the Bukowski namedropping “Mellowship Slinky In B Major”.

Of the aforementioned singles “Suck My Kiss” is the pick of the lot with its thumping bass skilfully spliced with Kiedis on form ahead of Frusciante dropping in like a chiming grandfather clock.  There was one of those clear examples of where the rap rock thing could be done so well.  And then in a further nod to that “I Could Have Lied” heavily reminds of the more mellow selections from “The Real Thing” by Faith No More.

From here “The Righteous & The Wicked” and “Naked In The Rain” stand out for their relentless and pulsing gestures while the transition from “The Greeting Song” into “My Lovely Man” is the kind of smooth/slick execution that fills of genius.

There is a risk of the audience falling for the charms of the band especially when songs such as “Breaking The Girl” and “Under The Bridge” and here perhaps is why girls went for the band more than there indie kid boyfriends were comfortable with.

Likewise the epic numbers in the title track and “Sir Psycho Sexy” can tend to push the listener further than they were perhaps wishing to go as certainly with the latter things become bloated.

As I say this is amazing driving music.  It booms from all directions and offers a warped kind of perspective that can house dark association with most males.  It is really very sexually explicit in/out there.  If you can get past such gestures and lyrics (and you would be forgiven for not wanting to) overall this is a much better record than experts credit.

Thesaurus moment: thump.

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