1985/10 The Daily Nexus (UC Santa Barbara student newspaper)

Red Hot Peppers

What do you think you’d get if you took a zany Hispanic drummer wearing Converse hightops, a skinhead bassist who bounces around stage making faces, a guitarist who’s into paisley and oversized overalls, and a singer whose long straight hair reminds me ever so much of high school “stoners” that wears … well, just about anything — Put it all together and what does it spell? “Trouble”, you might say. Have you ever heard the expressions “You can’t judge a book from its cover” or “Looks can be deceiving”? Well, to quip another one, this band takes the cake. They may cause a little fuss, but its all in fun, and it’s time to party down, ’cause the Red Hot Chili Peppers have got soul with a capital “S” and are ready to rap your socks off and maybe a little more.

A legend of wild club gigs behind them, word has spread that they used to doff all their clothes, jam “au naturel” and the lead singer would jump on his head when he got bored. But they’ve cleaned up their act to promote their debut album, Freaky Styley, and to get called out for encores while opening for X on that group’s recent tour. Indeed, the worst we got at the San Diego concert was guitarist Hillal Slovak bearing his testicles so the audience could make its personal assessment of lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ claim that they were the “biggest, reddest balls west of the Mississippi.”

Whether you pop or you lock, or just like to groove with a beat, the Chili Peppers set the blood flowing and the body moving as they rap to you about soul roots in “Jungleman”, give a tribute to Indians in “American Ghost Dance” (“Oh give me a home/Where the buffalo roam/And the death of a race is a game”), rap politics of the middle east, and get sleazy with James Bond in New Orleans ( “Blackeyed Blond”). Once they start, these boys get down and just don’t let up — like most rappers, Kiedis thinks he’s the baddest and tries to prove it, as his fellow band-members introduce some new variations of their own to the music, adding to their visual originality.

Given the line-up of the band, one would think anything was possible, especially when bassist Flea Balzary, besides having a funny name, sports a tattoo of Jimi Hendrix on his arm, while wearing a John Denver guest pass. Well, if you’re expecting just anything from these guys, that’s certainly what you get. Who else can pass off Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle as a hip-hop dance tune? Now that’s art. If old Grand-master Flash tunes are going bland for you, spice up your evenings with this, ’cause these Peppers are hot. —Karl Irving

Many thanks to Hamish at RHCP Sessions for the scan.