Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Review
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critics' view

These days, admitting to liking the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers release is akin to holding your hands up and saying "Yes, I love the new Maroon 5 album, what of it?". Consider if you will their last album offering - 2006's Stadium Arcadium. The title alone should have been more than enough to put us off. But chuck a bunch of mediocre 'radio-friendly' tracks into the mix, and the whole affair is disappointingly average. In recent years then, it's been easy to forget just how flipping good the Chilis used to be.

But cast your minds back to 1991 and the release of the band's fifth album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The line up had changed prior to recording commenced following deaths and departures from the band, and Rick Rubin had been brought in on production duties. The result is an album that is frequently heralded as one of the defining albums of the 90s and one which far exceeds anything else the band have ever produced.

The funk/punk style and Keidis's 'rapping' that had permeated previous RHCP album's is most definitely still there, but mixed with it is a strong melodic feel which adds a different dimension to the tracks. There's a structure and thought process to the songs that hadn't existed before. And even at a just-about-fittable-onto-a-CDR duration, the quality of "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" doesn't waver for a single one of it’s 74 minutes.

The album is largely about sex - as the title might suggest. Tracks such as Suck My Kiss, Sir Psycho Sexy and Give It Away are dripping with not just innuendo, but out and out, unadulterated sexual imagery. And it's this raw, straight up, no holds barred sexuality that gives the album such impact and distinctiveness - more so than any of their subsequent works. OK, so maybe it would sound weird now to have a 45-year-old Keidis asking you to suck his kiss (although arguably, there are many who would still like to). But when he did it in 1991, it really did hold such an irresistible clout. And despite being cited as an inspiration to countless artists since its release, the brilliance of Blood Sugar Sex Magik is that no-one else has managed to do anything quite like it – and frankly, that’s just the way it should be.

Charis Blyth
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The BBC's album reviews ended in 2013, although the pages are archived for retrospective reading.
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