photo & text by nacrowe
ONE HOT MINUTE (WARNER BROS, 1995) is a one-off anomaly in the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' catalogue largely because it sounds like what it is: a JANE'S ADDICTION hybrid due to the inclusion of guitarist DAVE NAVARRO. his predecessor on record was the much celebrated and beloved JOHN FRUSCIANTE, who had a completely different style than NAVARRO. where NAVARRO was LUSH, OPAQUE and EXPANSIVE, FRUSCIANTE was MINIMAL and ANGULAR. in my mind neither is better, but in retrospect it is apparent that FRUSCIANTE was a better fit with the overall FUNK ethos of the band. i dont think that opinion is a controversial statement since i believe even NAVARRO would admit such.
but none of this was important to me when i first came across ONE HOT MINUTE tracks like "AEROPLANE" and "MY FRIENDS" in october of 1995 when my family was staying in NYC for a week in between flights from LOS ANGELES to FRANKFURT to our new home in NIGERIA. when we made that huge move we stayed with a friend of my parents that had an apartment in TUDOR CITY and more importantly, had MTV. in CALIFORNIA we never had cable, and none of my friends did either, so i remember being really taken aback by all of the BUGSBY BERKELEY theatrics of the "AEROPLANE" video. in many ways that particular trip represents in my life represents a SHIFT IN CONSCIOUSNESS from the CULTURAL MYOPIA of ORANGE COUNTY to the GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE of attending an international school in AFRICA. seeing MTV for the first time also felt like a shift of sorts. you have to remember that this was all pre-internet and music on cable television was a bigger cultural influencer than it is now.
as an adult i go back to ONE HOT MINUTE all of the time. tracks i frequent tend to be the ones that just set off and EXPLODE like "WARPED," "SHALLOW BE THY GAME," "ONE BIG MOB" and "COFFEE SHOP." NAVARRO and his wah pedal never sounded more well acquainted with one another, in fact it feels like an extensive of his ego. he just absolutely rips and FLEA and CHAD SMITH never sounded more MUSCULAR and TIGHT as a rhythm section in my opinion. my favorite track on the album is "TRANSCENDING" especially the ringing DANIEL ASH-esque textures NAVARRO interlaces throughout the verses that culminate in a series of hammer-ons in the chorus that are truly SUBLIME. so melodic and so satisfying to listen to. makes you wonder what the bend would have sounded like had the continued.
but they didnt. it wasnt a perfect fit and only in the later (and all too brief) JOSH KLINGHOFFER-era of the band have these songs even been reintroduced in a live setting. but yeah, in my mind ONE HOT MINUTE is a definitive CHILI PEPPERS record despite it being a complete one-off. and im completely biased since my middle school band played "MY FRIENDS" at a school assembly, which today sounds like an odd choice. regardless, this record well worth checking out and revisiting.
photo & text by nacrowe
growing up in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS feel like a cultural institution at this point. coming out of the HARDCORE scene of the 1980s and being primed on all the LOS ANGELES PUNK ROCK of that era, while also integrating other influences (most predominantly the ethos and sonic complexity of classic FUNK records) this band, along with others like FAITH NO MORE, JANE'S ADDICTION and FISHBONE, in my eyes exemplifies that tipping point when ALTERNATIVE ROCK began to boil over culturally and laid the groundwork for NIRVANA to later charge the gates. given how commercially viable the band has been for decades, its difficult to discern how revolutionary their sound actually was back when their fifth release, BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK (WARNER BROS, 1991) came out at the beginning of the 90s.
its easy to point out the sheer musical dexterity and chemistry of their rhythm section in FLEA, CHAD SMITH and JOHN FRUSCIANTE. it is arguably one of the great assembles of musicians in the history of rock music, probably right there with LED ZEPPELIN. the immense aural pleasure of this listening to this record is how tight and connected they are as a unit. songs like "SUCK MY KISS," "THE POWER OF EQUALITY," "NAKED IN THE RAIN," "FUNKY MONKS," "THE GREETING SONG," and "MELLOWSHIP SLINKY IN B MAJOR" just start and stop on a dime with such energy and gusto that GEORGE CLINTON would most definitely nod with approval. and then there are tender ballads composed in an attempt to almost transform FOLK music and INDIE ROCK into some odd hybrid, i.e. songs like "BREAKING THE GIRL," "I COULD HAVE LIED" and the iconic "UNDER THE BRIDGE."
where this record breaks down relates to frontman ANTHONY KEIDIS, who is arguably the wild card and often a perpetual weak link in their discography. there are plenty of sex-crazed, cringe-inducing lyrics on "SIR PSYCHO SEXY" and the titled track "BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK," which have not aged well especially in light recent allegations of habitual and continuous sexual impropriety during this era in the band's history. these allegations the band has attempted to address and atone for, so i will take them at their word, but it still makes some of the more lurid subject matter a little bit hard to stomach given such.
my recollection of this record at the time was watching them play "GIVE IT AWAY" at the 1993 GRAMMY's with GEORGE CLINTON. i was in third grade so i just remember it all looking and feeling ridiculous. years later in 1999 when attending high school in MASSACHUSETTS i was able to see the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS play RHODE ISLAND on their co-headlining tour with the FOO FIGHTERS in support of CALIFORNICATION (WARNER BROS, 1999). it was the return of the classic lineup and i jst remember being enthralled by FRUSCIANTE and FLEA. their sense of musical connection is really something to be witnessed. one of the better live bands ive ever seen.
so in summation, BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK is a classic, if not problematic, record by a seminal band who undoubtedly inspired everyone that came after to create new hybrid sounds not heard or imagined before. and that is pretty cool.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
everything recently is so depressing. with structural racism in our policing, COVID continuing unabated and political unrest at the hands of QANON true believers still an ever present threat on our republic. just thinking about the onslaught of disinformation and thoughtless cruelty that has been perpetuated by the hubris of the former TRUMP administration and his craven sycophants in the GOP is just too much to stomach. it is because of them that our country is devolving into a GREEK tragedy.
ive already written about my love and admiration for NORM MACDONALD and how his LATE NIGHT appearances are legendary. they cheer me up every time i see them. following closely behind are the appearances by fellow SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alumnus WILL FERRELL over the years, who gets more and more absurd each time he's on any LATE NIGHT program supposedly promoting a new project. its become less and less about the film he is promoting and more about some ANDY KAUFMAN-esque next level batshit weirdness.
i love these bits and his insane singular commitment to staying in character and ever-present comic geniusm, so enjoy and get some relief before the ominous return of our collective TRUMPIAN HELLSCAPE.