Elias Fulmer originally published this article on Alternative Nation on October 14, 2014. We are republishing it due to it being the holiday season and news being slow. Merry Christmas!
Despite spawning dozens of hit singles during their illustrious thirty years, there is a great deal of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ discography that goes ignored, particularly their work without iconic guitarist John Frusciante. With ten albums worth of material and a worthwhile of miscellaneous formally unreleased material (not to mention a distinct live catalogue of good feel covers ranging from the Sex Pistols to P-Funk), it is easy to imagine how some material might be overlooked, but it is by no means inferior to other more well known hits by the band. Here is a list of 10 of the band’s underrated work, with an emphasis on the band’s sexier material.
10. Hard to Concentrate – Stadium Arcadium(2006)
Frusciante’s swan song for the Chili Peppers, 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, included a White Album amount worth of material and a number of singles like “Dani California” and “Snow.” “Hard to Concentrate” is a very particular song in their catalogue because of its admission of romantic feelings, which in Kiedis’ lyricism is usually ignored by his large focus on lust and hedonism. Like many of the songs on Stadium Arcadium, Kiedis spoke from numerous points of views that previously went unheard in the Chili Peppers’ music.
“And, estuary is, blessed but scary
Heart’s about to palpitate
Now, I’m not about to hesitate
And, want to treasure the rest of your days here
And, give you pleasure in so many ways dear”
The Frusciante ballad can be very unconventional, and in this example the guitar work is murmured over exotic drums and a jungle-y bassline. Given the current content and structure of John Frusciante’s post-Stadium Arcadium solo work, for which some influences on the album acted as catalysts towards, one can only sit and wonder what the next Frusciante ballads would sound like with if he had continued his career with the Chili Peppers.
9. Funky Crime – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan(1987)
During the tenure of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak, the band’s guitar tones were dominated by a funk influence with KISS inspired solos, a staple example that provides the case for the lyrical content of “Funky Crime,” the second track on their third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the last to feature guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is an album primarily about bonds and especially friendship, and “Funky Crime” promotes the Chili Peppers’ union between historically white leaning music and African American leaning music, the essential fusion of what drives their music. The long traditions following White and African American music trends, funk, rap, punk and all strains of rock (to name a few), which are included at the basis of the Chili Peppers’ music, but most prominently with Slovak’s work with the band, and while subsequent Chili Peppers’ guitarists would bring more eclecticism to the band’s musical chemistry, no one dished out the funk like Slim Bob Billy could. As the manifesto for the Chili Peppers’ pan-racial attitude towards music, this blend of funk and psychedelica in “Funky Crime” is a prime representation of the perfect dualism in the Chili Peppers’ music.
“Funky crime, funky crime
Don’t you know funk’s colors blind
Well, I’ve committed a funky crime
Against a state of mind”
8. Stretch You Out – One Hot Minute (1995)
A sneakaway b-side from the One Hot Minute album, the only album to feature Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, “Stretch You Out” is a heavy, sexy funk metal call out to a girl, not just with the offer of sex, but an experience so mind-blowing, Anthony’s sexual prowess over her will be “moving to approve the groove of mental transformation”. An obscure b-side to an obscure album, it only existed in print as a B-side to “My Friends” single and eventually achieved the status as an iTunes bonus track included with purchases of the album online. The song should be especially noted for lyrics, not only poetic, but jointly metaphysical, a motif on the One Hot Minute album, in contrast to Kiedis’ usual blend of narrative and rap. The song is also especially long for a Chili Peppers, over six minutes, as a number of songs on One Hot Minute were.
“There’s a glowing up around the moon it’s showing
We want to play in the water that is flowing
She’s making just for you
Yes, i have always wanted to
Give something to this stranger
M-m-m-moving to approve the groove
of mental transformation
I’ll stretch you out”
7. Millionaires Against Hunger – Freaky Styley sessions (1985)
Written amidst the age of movements like Band Aid and other ill-advised charity gimmicks by popular 1980’s artists, the Red Hot Chili Peppers stand in opposition to the celebrity charity of their day, proposing their own revolutionary call to mutual aid from and for each and every race. “Millionaires Against Hunger” was recorded during the Freaky Styley produced by Parliament-Funkadelic pioneer George Clinton, but released as a b-side for the three singles off of Mother’s Milk, “Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down” and “Taste the Pain”. The song is a strong rabble-rousing song and it’s a damn shame it wasn’t released as a single, because it had the potential to cause a lot of ruckus in the media with its condemnation of the decadence of the American upper class. Every single track in the song really propels the soul to get up and jive.
“Well I’m a millionaire too
All I know that is true is that I’ve got more cash than I can use
I want anything that I can have,
But I don’t need nothin’ and I never have
Each damn day my heart’s set far,
But I’ll be okay, ’cause I don’t starve
Kids from the street the losing their emotion so damn snobby so out of touch
With two hungry people who die as they stare at the city at night,
You know it gives to share
So listen up, you millionaires,
Every woman, every man, help all you can
All races unite, and I will now concern to the type of problem that helps us learn”
6. Good Time Boys – Mother’s Milk (1989)
The first track off of Frusciante’s debut album with the Chili Peppers, “Good Time Boys” is a rockin’, rompin’ and a-stompin’ funk march, with Frusciante emulating Slovak’s signature funk metal tone found on the previous album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Kiedis in “Good Time Boys” espouses the Chili Pepper’s feel good ideology in the lyrics, even though Kiedis had just entered his first period of sobriety, which displays the strength and integrity of their ideology, through the capability of transcending traditional rock and roll ideals of partying as “liberation through drugs”, though Flea and Frusciante still smoked a lot of cannabis during the Mother’s Milk sessions and subsequent tours. In the same way “Fight Like a Brave” opens up The Uplift Mofo Party Plan with a crusade against drug-induced slavery, “Good Time Boys” is the fruition and living up to of that ideal and opens up Mother’s Milk in a positive tone, even just a few months after their founding guitarist died. Somber songs about Hillel would be saved for other albums. For Mother’s Milk, it was just about the good times rolling.
“Funky young kings we sing of truth and soul
We’re the modern day braves with one strong hold
Through the world of song our boldness is exposed
Talkin’ ’bout my buddy’s funk it up fish bone”
5. Naked in the Rain – Blood Sugar Sex Magik(1991)
Anthony Kiedis has always displayed an affinity for nature and animals in his lyricism, as well as Flea. “Naked in the Rain” disparages human civilization for maintaining “societal norms,” conditions that create personal restriction. In the spirit of contempt, Kiedis promotes the values of nature – freedom, individuality and nakedness, as a more sustainable goal and enriching lifestyle than what the contemporary culture of post-Victorian morality and decadence has to offer to anyone. On the album, the song fades in through the end of Chili Peppers’ classic “Under the Bridge”, allowing a brief moment of intermission before the funk crescendo led triumphantly by Flea’s riveting bassline, one of the only prominent examples of the slap bass technique on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, because for a greater part of the album Flea used a pick to play bass, the first noted time in the Chili Peppers history. “Naked in the Rain” is a reminder of the call from the nature to be wild and free – without restriction and only with the freedom to do what you want.
“Listen to the talking heart in my chest
With this gift good Lord I am blessed
There’s a lump and it’s in my throat
I’m in love with the wilderness
Naked in the river skinny dippin’ my way
In the waterfall I just wanna play”
4. Out in L.A. – Original Chili Peppers Demo(1983)
In the days of Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, the original moniker of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the first song the band wrote together was “Out in L.A.”, a flaming red hot rap ode to the City of Angels, and the miraculous mayhem witnessed there by Kiedis and his friends. Unapologetically littered with self-adoration, the song celebrates the lifestyle practiced at the time of their younger days, where drugs, sex, loitering and always the overlying spirit of friendship and camaraderie. Even in 1983, Flea’s bass in “Out in L.A.” establishes his jaw-dropping, out of this world impression on the vocabulary of bass guitar, with slapping and popping only to be rivaled by the likes of Les Claypool. Two distinct versions of the song exist – the demo version with the original lineup of Slovak, Kiedis, Flea and Irons, and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers lineup of 1984, Sherman, Kiedis, Flea and Martinez, released on their 1984 eponymous album. The original demo version sounds sexier – Jack Sherman’s guitar work is notoriously stale in comparison to Hillel Slovak’s palette of guitar playing. The Chili Peppers were hardly the band they are today when “Out in L.A.” was written and recorded, but it’s the song’s vein and spirit that propels the Chili Peppers’ existence.
“We’re all a bunch of brothers livin’ in a cool way
Along with six million others in this place called L.A.”
3. If You Want Me to Stay – Freaky Styley (1985)
The Chili Peppers are known for their covers, and there are many, many of them, and their first recorded cover, at the urging of Freaky Styley producer George Clinton, became “If You Want Me to Stay”, originally written and performed by Sly and the Family Stone from their 1973 album, Fresh. As the song opens, a whispering riff is heard from Hillel’s guitar and then the booming melodic bass brings the haunting backing vocals and drumbeat with it, the production style is near Leviathan in the sense of being absolutely authoritative in the emotional disarray of funk. Funk can be sad – a fact many people put aside about funk music. “If You Want Me to Stay” exhibits that rare kind of heartbreaking funk, with harmonies so serene and melancholy, it’s hard to not stop and think about something grave when listening to this song. A love letter of self-defense, the lyrical content reckons with sensitive spirits and souls, trying to accept themselves while trying to have other accept them at the same time, a nearly impossible task.
“If you want me to stay
I’ll be around today
To be available for you to see
I’m about to go there
Then you’ll know
For me to stay here
I’ve got to be me
You’ll never be in doubt
That’s what it’s all about
You can’t take me for granted and smile
Count the days I’m gone
Forget reachin’ me by phone
Cause I promise
I’ll be gone for a while”
2. Special Secret Song Inside (Party on Your Pussy) – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)
A song so psycho and so sexy, EMI originally refused to release the album on the grounds of this song’s title, “Party on Your Pussy.” The Chili Peppers, for the track listing’s sake, re-titled the song as the “Special Secret Song Inside,” though the entire song intact besides that. If there is one song that best defines the crazy, erotic, funky drive that simply makes their music truly unique, it is “Party on Your Pussy.” Kiedis, in an interview preceding an impromptu performance of their forgotten classic “Sex Rap,” explains the relationship between funk music and sex:
Anthony Kiedis (Mother’s Milk era): “Music, to me, is heavily related to sex. Not always but in many different fashions, especially in funk. When you create rhythm with the bass and the drums, it sounds like your heart pounding when you’re having sex, or the skin slapping or all kinds of different things.”
With that context, “Party on Your Pussy” quite literally sounds like sex to the ear. The tone of the guitar, the cardinal pounding of drums and the drifting, intoxicating bassline all piston together like the rhythmic elements of sex. Sex rock, if anything, is the most appropriately label of the Chili Peppers’ music. The Chili Peppers will give you a long, elaborate list of influences if you ask them, but Kiedis, overcome by sexual passion, actually began to incorporate the ritual of sex into music’s inter-workings. How groundbreaking is that as an artist?
“Well, my young lady, she lives
Three houses away
She claims that she can hear moaning and screaming
To me fuckin’ you every night
Well, let me say “hey”
I want to party on your pussy, baby
I want to party on, party on your pussy
I want to party on your pussy, baby
I want to party on your pussy, yeah, yeah, yeah”
1. Aeroplane – One Hot Minute (1995)
In the grand scheme of things, most Chili Peppers songs are sexy. That being said, for a song that is so sexy because of the integrity of its lyrical convictions and with such an explicit explosion of music, it is just very frustrating that songs like “Aeroplane” get overlooked by people. Dave Navarro’s tenure in the Chili Peppers in general is overlooked, but “Aeroplane” is criminally overlooked because the inherent melodies in the song are the closest the band ever achieved in re-creating what Kiedis once dubbed ‘pure Hillel inspiration,’ that extra creative and innovative tinge that separated the Chili Peppers from funk, metal, psychedelia, soul and every other genre, because of that simple whimsical nature exemplified in songs like “Behind the Sun.” “Aeroplane” is a hollowed, sacred song. It deals with a plethora of themes that aren’t easy to deal with – relapsing into drugs, the shortcomings of love, the literal transcendence of being high and the salvation of music. “Aeroplane” reflects on the tragedy on life, in the fact that people can’t help themselves from seeking pleasure – but in that act of pleasure, it creates pain, that sometimes doesn’t surface immediately, but inevitably will. But the Chili Peppers dealt with that through music – an amazing life-inducing force that drove them to create over ten albums worth of material, and still does today. Life with addiction becomes the wavering between pleasure and pain, and especially for Kiedis, who at the time of recording One Hot Minute found himself doing the drugs he vowed never to do again. The only salvation for people like Kiedis, Flea, Navarro and Smith becomes music. Because “music IS my aeroplane”, as in that it transcends all of the despair brought on by other internal and external forces in life that spike pleasure with pain. For this profound statement of human thought, “Aeroplane” becomes the sexiest Chili Peppers song.
“I like pleasure spiked with pain and music is my aeroplane,
It’s my aeroplane,
Songbird sweet and sour Jane,
And music is my aeroplane,
It’s my aeroplane,
Pleasure spiked with pain…,
Just one note could make me float,
Could make me float away,
One note from,
The song she wrote,
Could fuck me where I lay,
Just one note,
Could make me choke,
One note that’s,
Not a lie,
Just one note,
Could cut my throat,
One note could make
Sex Rap – Freaky Styley (1985)
Early in their career, Kiedis presented more avant garde but straightforward rap vocal stylings in the Chili Peppers’ music and the aptly named “Sex Rap”, combines both of Anthony’s biggest creative divisions at the time. Hard to write an article like this without mentioning “Sex Rap”.