Review Summary: The Red Hot Chili Peppers' attempt at Abbey Road.
Stay with me. I know that my summary sounds completely and utterly ridiculous, but it will make sense. So, let’s start with the similarities. Both are 17 tracks long. Both have great flow throughout the entire album and songs that flow together, Abbey road being tracks 9-17 and this album being essentially the entire album. Both place a climactic song with an extended silence at the end second-to-last. Both follow that climactic song with a short “joke” song. Both left a major impact on the music world.
However, in terms of style, this album and Abbey Road are nothing alike. This is still the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We still have wonderful bass from Flea and mind-blowing guitar from John Frusciante. Chad Smith still plays his sneakily good drums. Anthony Kiedis still sings in that voice that only he can sing in. The lyrics on this album are incredibly sexual. A lot of critics complained about that, but I personally think the lyrics go along perfectly with the music.
Now, onto the songs. With 17 tracks, there isn’t enough space to talk in-depth about each one. Most people would expect a good amount of filler on this album, considering its length. However, that is not the case. Every single song on this album is quality work. The first real highlight is Funky Monks. The tempo is pretty slow, especially for a Peppers’ song. The guitar is, well, funky. Another highlight is the album’s lead single, Give It Away. This song spawned from a jam session by the three instrumentalists. Kiedis heard them playing and went to a mike and sang, “Give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now!” My personal favorite part of the song is at the end when Frusciante’s incredible riff comes in. Another song with a nice riff is The Greeting Song, which is one of the most energetic songs on the album.
Under the Bridge is the song that launched the Peppers’ career. Everyone knows this song. Even if you absolutely cannot stand this band, you’ve heard this song. It starts with some beautiful acoustic work from Frusciante and slowly builds up. At the end, a choir comes in and sings along with Kiedis. I personally think this is another highlight, even though it is grossly overplayed.
Finally, the end. Sir Psycho Sexy and They’re Red Hot are my two favorite songs on the album, hands down. The former is an 8 minute 17 second epic about Sir Psycho Sexy, a character that simply goes around and gets all the ladies. The lyrics tell about his sexual escapades. Kiedis said that the character is an exaggerated version of himself. At about the 5:35 mark, the lyrics end and a nice instrumental structure comes in. This continues until the end, with Frusciante just having some fun on his guitar. There is a long silence, then They’re Red Hot comes in, which is 1 minute 12 seconds of Chad Smith playing incredible drums and Kiedis spouting some nonsense about tamales.
This is, in my opinion, the Peppers’ greatest album. The popularity of this album led to Frusciante quitting and getting addicted to heroin, while the rest of the members struggled along with, among other guitarists, Dave Navarro. When Frusciante finally came back in 1999, they released Californication, which almost equals this effort. While there is certainly more variety on that album, it cannot match the sheer intensity and energy of Blood Sugar Sex Magik. There is something in every track that everyone can enjoy. This is an album that everyone should own and, while not quite at the level of Abbey Road, still a classic and one of the best albums of the 90s.