Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

by James Weiskittel Rating:10 Release Date:1991-09-24
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik

For better or worse, Blood Sugar Sex Magik changed everything.

Not only did the record provide the Red Hot Chili Peppers their immutable mark of permanence on the pop-culture landscape (satellite radio is still eating up “Under The Bridge” to this day), but the Rick Rubin produced album also helped Anthony Kiedis and the boys finally transition from their status as a ‘sock-on-a-dick’ sideshow to an arena-headlining act. The band had finally grown up.

Following the tragic death of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak, the ‘classic’ Red Hot Chili Peppers line-up (Flea, Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith and the incomparable John Frusciante) was brought together for 1988’s Mother’s Milk. And while that album was a triumphant reinvention in the wake of what was one of the band’s darkest periods, it was during the writing and recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik that the Red Hot Chili Peppers truly solidified into the alt-rock juggernaut that would go on to dominate the 90’s and beyond.

That all being said, few indie band’s make it to the top-40 without at least a few artistic concessions, and in this regard, the 'Peppers were no different. But the bottom line is that Blood Sugar Sex Magik resonated with the masses and in a big way. And it’s easy to see why.

With seventeen tracks totaling over an hour’s worth of music, there was a little something for everyone on Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Be it their trademark innuendo-laced funk-metal workouts (“Funky Monks”, “Apache Rose Peacock”), muscular, riff-driven rockers (“The Righteous & the Wicked”, “The Greeting Song”), or radio-ready hooks (“Give It Away”, “Suck My Kiss”), all the ingredients were there, albeit, with a healthy dose of studio polish.

While the funk-infused “The Power of Equality” is a serviceable enough album-opener (the song easily could've found a home on Mother’s Milk), and “If You Have to Ask” further showcases Frusciante’s ability to shred with a reckless abandon, it’s with the acoustic-guitar driven “Breaking The Girl” that the Red Hot Chili Peppers showed the first flashes of their exponential growth.

And while the band explored a ton of new ground over the album’s first ten songs, it was the transcendent eleventh track “Under the Bridge” that served as Blood Sugar Sex Magik’s true emotional centerpiece. The song not only earned the 'Peppers some much-deserved critical praise, but in many ways, it also laid the groundwork for what would become a decade of FM radio dominance. Even the album’s only real misstep (the ‘filler’ that is “They’re Red Hot” is so underdeveloped it almost feels like a slap in the face to Robert Johnson’s ghost) is unobtrusively placed at the very end of the line.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the sound of stars aligning. The Red Hot Chili Peppers would go on to sell oodles of records and sell out arenas everywhere, but never again would the hype surrounding their music feel so well-deserved. The record still sounds fresh after all these years and unequivocally stands the test of time. It is the very definition of a classic.

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