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Blood Sugar Sex Magik - 30 years on

 

Before 1991, LA-rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers had little going besides a harem of female fans and an unruly stage presence. Then in September that year came ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’, and everything changed for the Peppers. Before 1991, LA-rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers had little going besides a harem of female fans and an unruly stage presence. Then in September that year came ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’, and everything changed for the Peppers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-1991 Red Hot Chili Peppers were known as a party band; notorious for taking the stage wearing only a sock wrapped around a certain phallic member. Their sex-centred lyrics were way too blatantly crude for radio play, but they carried too much electric funk to fit into the hair-metal or college rock category.

 

Not for a lack of effort though, they undoubtedly shared a charged chemistry and their influences from Jimi Hendrix to Parliament-Funkadelic (George Clinton produced their second LP ‘Freaky Styley’) bled into their music. Coming off their first gold record with 1989’s ‘Mothers Milk’; the Peppers were armed with a new line-up with Chad Smith on drums and John Frusciante on guitar replacing Hillel Slovak due to his death from a heroin overdose. 

 

When it came time for their next album, the Peppers looked to ultra-chill-guy Rick Rubin to man the helm as producer, who suggested they record the album in an unconventional setting where they could hunker down creatively. A Mansion in the Hollywood Hills where Harry Houdini used to live was selected, and the band chose to sleep and eat there during the duration of the recording, minus Smith who opted to ride his chopper to and from each day.

 

The whole recording was captured for the hour-long documentary titled Funky Monks. After a month in isolation in a supposedly haunted rustic mansion, the 1991 album ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ was born.   

 

 

This month their breakthrough album turns 30.

In the 21st Century, it’s hard to imagine the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever had trouble finding mainstream success with offerings like “Californication” and “Under the Bridge” being constantly shuffled around on quality rock radio stations. However, those catchy choruses have ironically over-shadowed the undeniable artistic contribution that the Peppers gifted to the shifting music scene in the early 90s.

 

When high-pitched hair bands squealing about girls, partying, and girls again long overstayed their welcome, something fresh, and more importantly real, was needed to fill the void. In came the flannel-obsessed grunge and alternative-rock scene that entered the mainstream after brewing in the underground. 

 

‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ is the band’s most prominent contribution to that changing sound without a doubt. Whether it was the hands-off Rick Rubin producing approach, the passing of a founding band-mate, or the voluntary isolation the stars seemed to align. After years of struggling to find their sound, they finally got the recipe right and after 30 years it’s still as funky as ever.

 

Photos courtesy:

1. Mark Seliger 

2. Warner Bros.

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