So I’ve never been a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
My friend Elliott tried back in the day, playing their fourth album, 1989’s “Mother’s milk”, for me incessantly. I understood that it was different and in some ways innovative, but it never spoke to me. Then, when the first single from “Blood sugar sex magik” came out and my friend was all over it, I was not. In fact, “Give it away” drove me nuts. The rest of the album wasn’t my thing either but there was one song (and I’m sure you can guess which) that caught my ear and I’ll get back to that in a sec.
Since then, the LA-based funk rock band led by founding members Anthony Kiedis and Flea has reached legendary status, becoming one of the more successful bands to come out of the early 90s alt-rock explosion. But because I’ve never really paid that much attention, I hadn’t really grasped the true extent. That is, until they were slotted to play Ottawa Bluesfest a couple of years ago and the night they were headlining sold out, the first time a night has sold out in the festival’s history.
Of course I would like “Under the bridge” out of all of RHCP”s songs up to that point. At first listen, it didn’t really sound like them. In fact, when Kiedis wrote it, he didn’t want to bring it to the band because he didn’t think it fit in with the rest of their work. It was a deeply personal piece for him, expressing his loneliness and reflections on his history with drugs. “Blood sugar sex magik”’s producer, Rick Rubin convinced Kiedis to share it with the rest of the band and he was right to do so.
That now famous guitar intro by John Frusciante is just beautiful. You know the one where he is standing solo on a pedestal, wearing a chullo, like he is a misfit angel casting glory on us all before Kiedis lays down his heavy weight.
“Sometimes I feel
Like I don’t have a partner
Sometimes I feel
Like my only friend
Is the city I live in
The city of angels
Lonely as I am
Together we cry”
Though the feel is completely different than, say “Suck my kiss”, the sound is still definitely Red Hot Chili Peppers. The drumming is somewhat more restrained but Flea’s bassline is still muscular and funk heavy. Frusciante’s guitar through the rest of the song tempers Kiedis’s mood and almost eases him into a faster tempo. Then, the choirs joins in and it is epic.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1991 list, click here.