#tbt Red Hot Chili Peppers / Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

By Randy Nieto
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The Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t have the indie cred they once did in the 80’s. They cycled through several guitarists, and came to lie comfortably within the soft pop-rock bed they made for themselves many years ago. But this is what the band had planned all along. There was no desire to have an edge or keep one, and throughout this time Flea, Anthony, and Chad have only been true to themselves. The only difference is they defined exactly who they wanted to be: A radio friendly unit shifter. But somewhere in between pop stardom and punk pauper lies a sweet spot, where bands still have the bravado to be adventurous, make mistakes, and try new things. At such a tender age the urge to play heavy, loud and shock an audience hasn’t quite left, but songwriting has matured. This cross section allows for some truly amazing music to be made. Hints of this sweet spot approaching was evident in the album Mother’s Milk, with Stevie Wonder cover “Higher Ground” and the single “Knock Me Down” receiving some airplay. But shortly after this record, the newly sober band was finally able to secure famed producer Rick Rubin after several failed attempts. John Fruiscante, their young new guitar prodigy, had learned a thing or two under the tutelage of George Clinton, and together the band ventured into Rubin’s mansion, reportedly haunted and once owned by Harry Houdini. The result is their tour de force, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which spawned numerous singles that dominated billboard charts for years. But looking beyond these singles are album tracks that defy typical rock formula and push boundaries for what you would think of as a RHCP song. The amount of time spent crafting each song and attention to detail is what separates this album from the rest. Unexpected transitions, Parliament inspired harmonies, and well blended synthesizer accompaniments resulted in songs that somehow manage to fuse funk, metal, pop, rap, jazz, and punk sounds into something unexpected: A radio friendly record. Hard to say how much of it was Rubin (I have a feeling a great deal), but the amazing instrumentation and vocals are all the chili peppers. Check out the album below.

Black and white promo photo of Red Hot Chili Peppers

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