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Red Hot Chili Peppers- Blood Sugar Sex Magik Review

Track Listing
Blood Sugar Sex Magik album cover
  1. The Power of Equality
  2. If You Have to Ask
  3. Breaking the Girl
  4. Funk Monks
  5. Suck My Kiss
  6. I Could Have Lied
  7. Mellowship Slinky in B Major
  8. Righteous and the Wicked, The
  9. Give it Away
  10. Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  11. Under the Bridge
  12. Naked in the Rain
  13. Apache Rose Peacock
  14. The Greeting Song
  15. My Lovely Man
  16. Sir Psycho Sexy
  17. 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.
Harry Houdini's famous recoding studio mansionBlood Sugar 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.
Antony Kiedis posing
‘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)

Chili Peppers live
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.

The Doors- ‘LA Woman’ Review

Iconic Jim Morrison image(40thanniversary edition)
Track Listing
  1. The Changeling
  2. Love Her Madly
  3. Been Down So Long
  4. Cars Hiss By My Window
  5. LA Woman
  6. L’America
  7. Hyacinth House
  8. Crawling King Snake
  9. The Wasp 
  10. Riders On The Storm
Throughout a turbulent few months for me with graduation, finding a job and moving house I have needed music that has relaxed me and put me back into a mellow state of mind again.
The Doors’ sixth studio album LA Woman did just that and has remained a reliable source of de-stressing when needed, mainly due to its blues-rock style and ‘cocktail jazz’- a term commonly used as a derogatory remark about the album.
LA Woman turned out to be their most commercially successful and Rolling Stone magazine marked it as no. 362 in its ‘500 Greatest Albums of all Time’ list. It was also Jim Morrison’s last studio album before he died two months after its release. Morrison is now part of a collective term called ‘The 27 Club’ referring to musicians who have all died at the age of 27 including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones and more recently, Amy Winehouse.
The album gets off to an upbeat start with ‘The Changeling’ which features the bands iconic organ sound layered beneath Morrison’s coarsely sung verses. As ever, Robby Krieger’s guitar swoons gently in unison with the vocals creating an uplifting start to the album.
‘Love Her Madly’ follows the upbeat mood but with a more blues tinge to the beat by adding a piano part which bounces melodically along in the background. These first two songs however signal a distinct deterioration in Morrison’s voice. ‘Been Down So long’ certainly adds credence to that fact as his vocals borders on the irritating at times.
LA Woman album coverThe next two tracks though completely dispel the notion that Morrison is past his best and give the album its gentler touch. Firstly with ‘Cars Hiss by My Window’, the poeticism involved makes you feel like you’re lazing on a Sunday summers evening by the shore. Who doesn’t want to feel like that listening to a song? Secondly the album’s title track ‘LA Woman’, a key hit single in any collection of the band’s best achievements, gallops at a contagiously head swaying rate until a smooth interlude. Lyrically, ‘LA Woman’ sees the band at their poetically enigmatic best. After the interlude, Morrison repeatedly sings the line ‘Mr. Mojo Risin’’, an anagram for Jim Morrison, which has an interestingly persistent rumour behind it. Upon Morrison’s death in 1971, there was no official autopsy and the police report cited a heart attack which killed the singer. But there are many conspiracy theorists who believe that Morrison had faked his own death, due to differing accounts from his life-long companion Pamela Courson, Alain Ronay (a photographer friend of Morrison’s) and police reports differing from the medical reports. Supposedly, if Morrison had faked his own death, he would use the term ‘Mr Mojo Risin’’ as a way of communicating with his close friends and band members.
The Doors posing for a photo
The album’s crowning achievement though is without a doubt its closing track ‘Riders On The Storm’. The song starts with torrential rain and thunder slowly fading in until the cyclical bass line kick-starts the track. Morrison’s voice is at its smooth, swooning best as he opens with the song’s title. Lines like, ‘There’s a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad’ is said laconically, undermining the sinister undertones of the song. The reverb on Krieger’s guitar accentuates the rain, as if water was vibrating off the strings, and saturates the earthy bass line. From 2009, the song was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame and has been covered by many different artists including Santana, with Linkin’ Park Vocalist Chester Bennington singing and Ray Manzarek on keyboard as he did for The Doors in the studio recording.
Overall, the album is by far The Doors greatest studio recording and was the least toured lasting just two shows until, on the second show, the stage fell through because Morrison slammed the microphone stand down on it too hard. Afterwards, he announced his retirement from live shows and moved to Paris with Pam until his death two months later. The band split up in 1973 after two albums –Other Voices and Full Circle– without Morrison, with Manzarek and Krieger taking vocal duties, but couldn’t recreate the same chemistry without the late singer. Who knows how much more successful The Doors would have become had Morrison survived.

Queens of the Stone Age (Self Titled)- Album Review

Image of Josh Homme

Josh Homme

Queens of the Stone Age- Queens of the Stone Age

Rekords Rekords, 1998

The album is an amalgamation of sorts between Josh Homme’s first band Kyuss and his new creation (QOTSA) after Kyuss split up in the early 90’s. Kyuss’s reputation, and success, was largely down to Homme’s guitar creating catchy head swaying riffs which stick in your head months after the first listen.This largelyunknown, and hard to find, debut album, from the Californian desert rockers, in 1998 contains many QOTSA fans festival favourites and shows the birth of their signature sound of electrifying fuzz riffs, deep bluesy bass lines and catchy lyrics.

Opening the album is ‘Regular John’, a song with drumming which you just cannot help but stomp your foot to. A mix of rock groove, with the bands trademark fuzz guitar, and delicate squeals make the song one of the best on the album. Homme’s unmistakable leering voice glides across the song, which fans more familiar with QOTSA will know and love.

‘Avon’ is a previous Desert Session’s recording, where Homme and twenty or so likeminded rock musicians gather at Homme’s ranch in Palm Desert to jam, and is also a mainstay on their tours to this day. It’s rolling guitar and steady drum beats repeat incessantly throughout, with a solo which grooves steadily with the march like beats.

‘If Only’ is perhaps one of the more pop like songs on the album with an opening riff that remains their most catchiest to date. The swinging harmony of the track is the perfect backdrop to Homme’s heartfelt lyrics like ‘those long long days with no escaping’.

The song which would epitomise Homme’s own assessment of QOTSA’s style as ‘robotic rock’ is ‘You Would Know’. The short and snappy riff repeated behind Homme’s melodic squeaks on top of his robotic voice. The heaviest sound of the album comes from ‘How to Handle a Rope’, a mix of deep fuzz infused guitar and a primitive drum beat which erupts into a chaotic solo at the end.

But there is no song on the album quite like the majestic ‘You Can’t Quit Me Baby’. From the opening infectiously catchy wavering bass line, to Homme’s iconic melodic croon ‘ahhing’ after every verse with contagious passion , to the song’s instrumental type break where the words, ‘your solid gold, I’ll see you in hell’ is harmonised perfectly with more subtle guitar overtones. The track doesn’t give in there though; the undeniable brilliance of the soaring solo, bouncing off the hazy bass line will stick in your head for years. Live renditions of this song have never failed to let fans down, and it remains the longest onstage jam session to date at fifteen minutes.

Queens of the Stone Age performing live

Rocking a lucky crowd

There are just a couple of songs however which don’t quite hit the mark. The final song ‘I Was a Teenage Hand Model’ plods along aimlessly without any signature QOTSA riffs or bluesy bass lines. The ending is just a mess of loud beeping noises. ‘Hispanic Impressions’ is a strange track which doesn’t seem to have a consistent beat throughout, making the odd time signature unsettling.

From a band which offers something different, yet always satisfying, in every album they make, this glorious debut is an absolute must listen. Due to be re released on March 7th with bonus tracks and a revamped sound, the album will most definitely not disappoint.

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