Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Review by Steve Huey
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' best album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik benefits immensely from Rick Rubin's production -- John Frusciante's guitar is less overpoweringly noisy, leaving room for differing textures and clearer lines, while the band overall is more focused and less indulgent, even if some of the grooves drag on too long. Lyrically, Anthony Kiedis is as preoccupied with sex as ever, whether invoking it as his muse, begging for it, or boasting in great detail about his prowess, best showcased on the infectiously funky singles "Give It Away" and "Suck My Kiss." However, he tempers his testosterone with a more sensitive side, writing about the emotional side of failed relationships ("Breaking the Girl," "I Could Have Lied"), his drug addictions ("Under the Bridge" and an elegy for Hillel Slovak, "My Lovely Man"), and some hippie-ish calls for a peaceful utopia. Three of those last four songs (excluding "My Lovely Man") mark the band's first consistent embrace of lilting acoustic balladry, and while it's not what Kiedis does best as a vocalist, these are some of the album's finest moments, varying and expanding the group's musical and emotional range. Frusciante departed after the supporting tour, leaving Blood Sugar Sex Magik as probably the best album the Chili Peppers will ever make.
Review by Jacob N. Lunders
A stylistic improvement over its predecessor, Grassroots presents a more focused and inventive 311, evenly balancing the band's rap-metal intensity with reggae vibrations, Grateful Dead-like jams, and hallucinogenic ambience. Perhaps one of the 1994's most underrated releases, Grassroots artistically ignores corporate rock's temptations of conformity, which consequently threaten the possibility of mainstream airplay. Despite suffering from relative obscurity, 311's sophomoric effort remains an invigorating listen, and its multi-tempo compositions flow together remarkably from the grinding guitar assault of "Homebrew" through the laid-back Caribbean groove of "1,2,3." In addition, Nick Hexum's and S.A. Martinez' potent alteration between rap and melodic vocals represents a polished development over Music's comparatively inferior efforts. While Grassroots lacks any hit-worthy singles, it does offer plenty of highlights including the rhythmically eclectic "Omaha Stylee," the desirous sing-along "8:16 A.M.," and funky hip-hop/rock hybrid "Applied Science." The album's remaining tracks prove equally essential as they individually piece together the Grassroots puzzle, which combined provides a splendid overview of 311's signature diversity. Unfortunately, the overall muddy production undermines P-Nut's bass wizardry and transforms Chad Sexton's drumkit into an assemblage of garbage cans and cardboard boxes. Despite the less-refined outturn, Grassroots remains 311's finest moment artistically, and listeners of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, and Rage Against the Machine will find this CD an indispensable addition to their music collections.