- The Power of Equality
- If You Have to Ask
- Breaking the Girl
- Funk Monks
- Suck My Kiss
- I Could Have Lied
- Mellowship Slinky in B Major
- Righteous and the Wicked, The
- Give it Away
- Blood Sugar Sex Magik
- Under the Bridge
- Naked in the Rain
- Apache Rose Peacock
- The Greeting Song
- My Lovely Man
- Sir Psycho Sexy
- They’re Red Hot
1991 was a fantastic year for music. Nirvana released Nevermind, now certified Diamond, Pearl Jam debuted with Ten, another grunge album certified Diamond as of 2012, Primal Scream released Screamadelica, Metallica produced their eponymously titled album with singles ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Sad But True, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers finally made it big with their fifth studio recording Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
Their previous album Mothers Milk garnered mixed reviews, with many problems centred on a lack of structure, creative channelling and over distorted guitar in their songs, giving a lack of clarity to their tracks. Their best song on the album was a Stevie Wonder cover ‘Higher Ground’.
In 1988 Chili’s guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose and their drummer Jack Irons left the band, leaving Anthony Kiedis and Flea to search for new recruits. Guitarist John Fruscianti and drummer Chad Smith were put in place to replace the departed and formed the most consistent line-up the Chili Peppers ever had.
Production took place at Harry Houdini’s mansion in Hollywood, now owned by record producer Rick Rubin who suggested the band record there. Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles all stayed there during their careers to write songs and jam and the Chili Peppers certainly benefited from the creative atmosphere the magician’s home permeated.
was heralded by critics as their most outstanding achievement upon release in 1991, and saw the band traverse new avenues in funk, punk and metal.
The opening track ‘Power of Equality’ possesses the trademark of Kiedis’ lyrical prowess as a rapper, but the difference being that there is a melody supporting him. The Chili Peppers were often berated by critics and record producers for not having a significant melody to their songs. Radio dj’s deemed their songs not radio-worthy due to this, leading to less exposure for the band. On top of that, there was too much explicit material in Kiedis’ lyrics to be able to make a sufficient radio edit.
Blood Sugar though, like the Chili Peppers previous studio albums, is one long sexual innuendo from start to finish. This is what The Chili Peppers are all about and what fans expect from them, except this time there seems to be a method to their madness. Organised chaos may be the best way to describe the album.
‘Sir Psycho Sexy’, arguably the album’s best track, slaps you in the face with its sexual imagery. Kieids becomes an exaggerated ideal of himself as a sex-hungry animal of a man ‘with demons in his semen.’ Fruscianti’s guitar tone on the chorus is teasingly heavy, Flea’s punk-funk bass line throughout the eight minutes of the sexual frenzy sways around the song playfully. The song’s greatest moment though is at 5:41 where a trippy instrumental winds the song down to a mellow climax, with violins repeating Fruscianti’s riff and drawing the curtains on Kiedis’ debauchery.
‘Under The Bridge’, originally a poem Kiedis wrote whilst at his lowest, and almost didn’t make the album until Rubin’s insistence paid off, ended up being a major hit single for the band. ‘Give it Away’ was conceived by Flea and Smith aimlessly jamming and Kiedis coming out of nowhere with the songs iconic chorus, ‘giveitawaygiveitawaygiveitaway now.’ ‘Suck My Kiss’ and ‘Naked in the Rain’ exemplify the bands ferocious libido further too.
Touring of the album was hugely successful as they played shows with Billy Corgan’s The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Tensions were boiling though between Fruscianti and Kiedis. Pearl Jam were deemed not big enough to perform alongside the Chili Peppers and so plans were in place for them to be replaced by Nirvana. Corgan however, refused to play alongside Kurt Cobain, who was dating Courtney Love, a past flame of Corgan’s. The Smashing Pumpkins left, Pearl Jam stayed and Nirvana joined.
The Chili’s performance on Saturday Night Live proved to be the tipping point for Kiedis as Fruscianti, it seemed, deliberately upstaged Kiedis by playing out of tune, out of time and wrecking the songs closing chorus. Keidis said of the performance:
[Frusciante] was experimenting the way he would have if we’d been rehearsing the tune. Well we weren’t. We were on live TV in front of millions of people and it was torture. I started singing in what I thought was the key he was playing in. I felt like I was getting stabbed in the back and hung out to dry in front of all of America while this guy was off in a corner in the shadow, playing some dissonant out-of-tune experiment (source)
Fruscianti quit the band and for the next six years went on a downward spiral of drugs, self harm and depression. Flea kept in regular contact and helped him be admitted to rehab. Kiedis was open to the idea of him returning, after Dave Navarro quit in 1998, and met the guitarist to resolve the issues they had with each other.
To this day, ‘Give it Away’ and ‘Under the Bridge’ remain the band’s most played songs on tours and shows, owing to the lasting legacy Blood Sugar Sex Magik created for them.