Kerrang! 666 Special Edition Magazine November 2011
Red Hot Chili Peppers
BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK
THE CHILI PEPPERS STOPPED BEING JERKS AND BECAME THE BIGGEST ROCK BAND IN THE WORLD
One of the most intriguing aspects of the celebrations surrounding the recent 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind was the reminder that the red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik came into the world on exactly the same day, the lack of any similar hoopla surrounding the birthday of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fifth album should be enough to tell you that, for all of its 15 million global sales, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was not the sort of record that changed the world. But, in its own, less dramatic way, it’s had just a big a part to play in shaping the rock landscape over the past two decades. And it certainly changed the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ world. Previously, most people- if they had any opinion on them at all- viewed the Red Hot Chili Peppers as overgrown fratboy oafs, capable of wild live shows and amusing photo opportunities involving socks and their genitalia, but unlikely to ever make more than a footnote in the rock history books.
But the band that started recording in Harry Houdini’s old LA mansion was very different to the one that originally formed back in 1983. Tragedy had robbed them of guitarist Hillel Slovak back in 1988, his place was taken by mercurial John Frusciante. Blood Sugar was the second Chilis album for Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith (as well as the first for their new record label, Warner Bros), and the new line-up was in the mood to create something much bolder than their previous work.
This process was enhanced by the recruitment of Rick Rubin as producer, in his no-holds-barred autobiography, Scar Tissue RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis talks of how Rubin encouraged him to break out of the funk-rock straightjacket. Rubin pushed Kiedis to record Under The Bridge, which the singer had written as a poetic ode to Los Angeles for protecting him during his years as a junkie, and a new Chilis’ signature tune was born.
After that, all bets were off, and Kiedis brought a new vulnerability to RHCP’s jock rock, widening their appeal in the process. He explored his unlikely failed romance with Sinead O’Connor on I Could Have Lied, while even the record’s no-holds-barred rocker, Give It Away concerned his newly positive post-sobriety philosophy. The rest of the band were similarly inspired, Rubin encouraging them to indulge in musicianship “face-offs”, in which Frusciante and bassist Flea would attempt to out-do each other in the musical invention stakes. Consequently, Blood Sugar Sex Magik has the innate swagger that only comes from a band who know they’re onto something special.
Despite the band’s belief that they’d delivered a classic, Blood Sugar actually took a while to catch on with the public. But once it started rolling, the momentum of these 17 brilliant songs became so unstoppable that even Frusciante’s mid-tour departure the following year couldn’t derail it. The end product isn’t necessarily their best album, but it is the reason the Red Hot Chili Peppers are lifelong members of the Biggest Band In The World club. And it may not be Nevermind, but when it comes to muscular-yet-sensitive modern rock records, Blood Sugar Sex Magik is still very much the bollocks.
DOWNLOAD: Give It Away, Under The Bridge
FOR FANS OF: Faith No More, Foo Fighters