Released in 1991, it’s almost hard to believe that this was the Chili Peppers FIFTH studio album at the time. It was a turbulent time for the funk-rock 4 piece, with previous album ‘Mothers Milk', receiving only moderate success and original guitarist Hilel Slovak tragically passing only 3 years prior. However, every cloud has a silver lining, with virtuoso John Frusiciante joining the band and ultimately, changing the sound of the band for the foreseeable.
The album was rather perculially recorded in Harry Houdini’s old mansion, yes you read that right, where the band created the album and also lived during this period, with the exception of drummer Chad Smith, who was convinced the place was haunted. (I know, I know.)
Perhaps influenced by other artists of the time, this was a distinct change of pace for the Chili Peppers, with more of an emphasis placed on punk/funk guitar riffs (Give It Away Now, Suck My Kiss) and somewhat abandoning the more melodic efforts that had previously brought the group mainstream success. The LA based ensemble was known even back then for their outrageous and often prolonged jams, and on previous albums Mothers Milk and the Uplift Mofo Party Plan it is brazenly obvious that songs were birthed from extended jam sessions. However, on Blood Sex Sugar Magik, the tracks have a more structered and regimented feel - Take ‘Under The Bridge’ for example, 2 years previous if the Chili’s had dropped the track it would’ve presumably descended into chaos, yet the more composed approach led to an ebbing and flowing masterpiece that still stands up today.
The album was produced by Rick Rubin who is credited with giving the album a more dynamic feel as opposed to previous Chili Peppers efforts. The group had been criticised by some for overpowering the listener with intense riffs and harsh noise whereas this LP flows beautifully and feels more fully formed, previously the band had a tendency to sound rather ragged and disjointed.
If you’re a new fan looking to dive in the Chilis head first, this is a great start. It’ll sound both familiar and new if you’re aware of albums like Californication and Stadium Arcadium, however the further back you dive into the RHCP back catalogue the murkier it gets, so this is a rather safe point of departure. Enjoy!
These are the words of our 8-Teams' JJ Lee in Cork, Ireland.