Review Summary: I want to teleport back to 1991 and rediscover this album all over again.4 of 6 thought this review was well written
The Red Hot Chili Peppers used to be one of those bands that dared to be different. I respect them for taking the alt-rock route but this.....these days were just incredible. Uplift, Mother's Milk, and especially BSSM did something great in not relying on distorted guitars, screeched lyrics, or inaudible bass and instead creating a sound that was so unique and viable you just had no choice but to love it.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a long journey, containing 73 minutes of funky guitar tones, a man doing things to a bass no one thought was possible, a guy who eats drums for breakfast (you get 10 awesome points if you've heard that quote before), and the guy who used to be my favorite rock vocalist. There are 17 tracks here, and none of them are filler (except for the last one, "They're Red Hot.")
As for the musical content itself, the funk-infused rock style remains RHCP's go-to for musical greatness on this album, but the Peppers were beginning to take new challenges when it came to their music. Anthony began to sing a lot more instead of rap ("Under the Bridge, "Breaking the Girl", "I Could Have Lied"), some prog-tinged riffs were beginning to catch my eye (the closing of "Sir Psycho Sexy"), and the lyrics became a lot more introspective and meaningful, rather than previous albums where there was a song literally about partying on someone's pussy.
"Apache Rose Peacock" closes with a metal-ish style guitar hook, retaining the guitar style of the Mother's Milk album. Some of the guitar effects on "The Righteous and the Wicked" could also be seen as metal-y, as the distortion really adds to the sound and really puts some atmosphere into what the song is saying. "Funky Monks" sees John Frusciante actually performing an amazing guitar solo, using triplets to his advantage as he shreds on this highlight track. Ridiculous solos like this wouldn't become common until Stadium Arcadium, which was unfortunately where John's journey with the band ended. But I will always remember him because of this incredible solo, plus his backing vocals have always been angelic and added a whole new dimension to the songs. Plus his solo work is worth checking out.
Flea and Chad have always worked great as a team, and this album proves they are the best rhythm section in music. Flea has some type of amazing bass riff on every song except the ballads and "They're Red Hot". The hooks on "Naked in the Rain" and "The Power of Equality" still amaze me every time I listen to them. Chad has some of the best beats in his drumming career on this album, which is really cool because he rarely ever does fills. This is raw drumming power at its best. The bridge of "Breaking the Girl" is easily one of the album's best moments, as well as the main beat itself, as the toms rain over the lush acoustic guitar sound. The use of the cowbell during "Righteous and the Wicked" was an interesting touch. But the best rhythmic moment in this album comes during "Power of Equality" right before Anthony sings the final lines. Flea comes in with a gnarly riff for a few beats, before Chad makes the song one of the highlight tracks with the pounding fill that still gives me chills today. Chad Smith has the best sounding drum kit in rock. Period.
This album dared to be different in a time where Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were topping the charts with carbon copies of each other's music. Maybe this is why I love it so much, or maybe just because it's the peak of RHCP's career. Or maybe it's because there will literally never be another album like this again. Oh, and get the bonus track version on iTunes. It includes two Jimi Hendrix covers ("Little Miss Lover" and "Castles Made of Sand") which include some of John's best soloing/riffing as well as Anthony's newfound take on singing.