In February of 1983, the Swan, the Flea and the Skinny Sweaty Man rocked LA's Rhythm Lounge when they played their first gig, a one-song show, Out In LA, for which they rehearsed once and once only, a capella. These three, then Tony Flow and the Miraculous Masters of Mayhem became, once they hired drummer Jack Irons, the original Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This album was recorded in 1987 and is the third studio-recorded LP by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and is the only album which was completely written and recorded by the original four band members- Anthony Kiedis (Vocals), Flea (funky thumb slapping aborigine punk grooves), Hillel Slovak (guitar) and Jackie Irons (drums). When it came to the recording of their eponymous album, the Skinny Sweaty Man and Jackie decided they would much rather stick with the band they knew would keep its success than gamble on the possibility of their little joke band project so they stuck with their band Anthym, forcing Flea and Anthony to hire Cliff Martinez (formerly drummed for Captain Beefheart) to play drums and Jack Sherman to play guitar. Sherm's pissy pop-funk guitar playing and Andy Gill's (Gang Of Four) radio-friendly pop sensibility caused the record to be only a minor LA hit. Freaky Styley was more a George Clinton album than a Red Hot Chili Peppers album. Cliff was still their drummer for this record. They had Hillel back playing guitar but he was recording guitar parts that Sherm had already written before he got fired, and for most of the songs the lead parts were played by the Horny Horns, one of George's Parliament-Funkadelic spin-off bands of the 1980's. Their real success and mainstream/anywhere outside of Hollywood recognisability began to come in with this, their third album, more freaky styley than Freaky Styley, for which they re-hired Jackie. One of those rare albums that actually sounds like it was recorded live (like a lot of the Pixies' stuff).
The recording of this album went a lot smoother than the recording of a lot of their other albums. Hillel, Johnny Fru, Dave Navarro and Anthony, throughout their lives and careers, fell in and out of addiction (Hillel's heroin addiction ended tragically for him in June 1988 when he relapsed and overdosed). Flea was only ever a recreational user, and Jackie was always clean but Anthony and Hillel had their problems with heroin for a long time. While recording this album neither's addiction had reached the all-consuming point- that came later.
It must also be noted that this album was one of the first to have the 'Parental Advisory- Explicit Lyrics' sticker on the front of it.
Without much further ado-
1- Fight Like A Brave 3:52
2- Funky Crime 2:58
3- Me And My Friends 3:05
4- Backwoods 3:04
5- Skinny Sweaty Man 1:13
6- Behind The Sun 4:38
7- Subterranean Homesick Blues 4:31
8- Party On Your Pussy 3:14
9- No Chump Love Sucker 2:40
10- Walkin' On Down The Road 3:45
11- Love Trilogy 2:38
12- Organic Anti-Beat Box Band 3:59
13- (bonus track on the 2003 remastered version) Behind The Sun (instrumental demo) 2:52
14- (bonus track on the 2003 remastered version) Me And My Friends (instrumental demo) 1:53
Fight Like A Brave (hard, kind of angry, a fighting song)- this is the first song on the album and the first single/video released from it. Hidden amongst all their fun, Get Up And Jump- style songs the Chilis wrote one or two political or semi-political songs. They never wrote very many of these kinds of songs, just one or two dotted here and there. Recently their political songs have become more and more cryptic (Cabron on the By The Way album, for example) but this was back in the day, when LA's punk culture was soaked so deeply in their skin and they were passionate and cared and believed in ideals. This song is a very political song, but it is also a very fun song (the video is about as fun and funky and insane as the Can't Stop video). It isn't as political as, say, Green Heaven, from the original album, but, it has a red hot riot/revolution-instigating poker inside it.
Funky Crime (funkier than Bootsy's semen)- when recording Freaky Styley, Anthony and the Doctor, Doctor Funkenstein, would have these long conversations about life, love and art. Anthony put the subject of one of these conversations into this song.
George believed that music was not 'black' music or 'white' music in itself, but record companies and radio stations and MTVwere the only segregators. This was the time when Michael Jackson couldn't get on MTV because they were only interested in white, middle-class heavy metal.
In the sleeve notes of the remastered Freaky Styley album Flea writes that their problem was, they were 'too funky for white radio, too hard punk rocking for black'. The way they felt, was that funk was colour-blind. They decided to go into funk music because Flea's band Fear and Hillel's band What Is This/Anthym were hard rock and punk, and they hadn't done anything in funk yet. It was something to do. But they couldn't get on the radio because they had transcended the 'barriers of race' which 'in the media take place' and no radio station knew where to put them.
Anthony may be part Cherokee or Apache, nobody knows. Hillel was Israeli. And the joke was that Flea was an aborigine (when they originally moved to the USA from Australia, Mike and his sister would put on these exaggerated Australian accents and talk gibberish to one another, claiming they were really Aborigines and confusing the other kids), but the only really black Chili Pepper was D. H. Peligro, originally from the Dead Kennedy's, the drummer they had before Chad Smith joined in 1988. And radio stations couldn't comprehend it, white people playing black music? Good God, what's the world coming to?
This song also has one of the best chorus instrumentals i have heard for a long time.
Me And My Friends (hard and punky with slight funk overtones)- the lyric of this song is simply about Anthony's friends- Bob Forrest, Flea, Hillel and Jackie.
Backwoods (fun and fast and hard-hitting)- about the roots of Rock And Roll, Chuck Berry and Larry Holmes, the 'long tall daddys of rock and roll'.
Skinny Sweaty Man (hard, fast, fun, faster than anything on this record, hard to follow)- a hard-hitting, fast, blood-pumping endorphin rush with everything great about funk and everything great about punk and everything great about music in general. It is rather like Police Helicopter from the first album in this respect- it's hard and fast and it cums quickly. It is Anthony's little ode to Hillel Slovak, 'he's half man and half cartoon', 'face to face with the man in the moon'. Oh, and the best line of the song 'if you catch him in your soup, please don't shoot'.
Behind the Sun (pretty and slippery)- the original instrumental demo of this song has Hillel playing guitar on the song but the version they released on the album has a sitar layered over the guitar. It is very pretty, cosmic, underwater funk, kind of song.
This song was released as a single, it also had a video- a shitty five-minute job with felt pens and cuts from the Higher Ground video (with Johnny and Chad Smith in the band, quite clearly not playing Behind The Sun).
Subterranean Homesick Blues (great kick, fairly sexy)- this was originally written by Bob Dylan and is about drug culture, DAs and desperately needing the next hit. The version on this record is so unlike Bobby D's original version, however, that they probably could have called it their own (Anthony even inserts his own little verse midway thru- 'the good God willing we'll bebop to Bob Dylan, chillin' 'em, thrillin' 'em and Red Hot killin' 'em').
Party On Your Pussy (sexy in a hot, slow, sweaty way)- oh so simple but oh so sexy. The sexiest song they ever wrote before Sir Psycho Sexy, about how loud Anthony can make his girls scream (his landlady could hear them from three houses away, a cop heard them inside a phone booth). The majority of it is the chorus (with the refrain 'I want to party on your pussy, baby, I want to party on your pussy'), with two verses and a bridge- 'let me shine your diamond, girl got a scratch, slap that cat, have mercy'. EMI wouldn't allow them to call this song Party On Your Pussy, in stead making them change the name to Special Secret Song Inside'.
In the documentary Funky Monks, made during the recording of their Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, Anthony explains the sexuality in their songs- he says that most every healthy young man is driven by sex and he shouldn't try to deny this or hide the fact, it's a part of being human and we should celebrate it, embrace it, and this is what the Chilis try to achieve in their music.
No Chump Love Sucker (sexy but in an angry, fast way)- 'about that kind of evil, materialistic woman'. Hillel had a girlfriend and this person left him for some guy with more drugs. So Anthony wrote about it. The song is very angry and also very triumphant.
Walkin' On Down The Road (joyful, pretty)- I have no idea what this song is about. It seems to me to be about the joys of spending time with your loved ones and not caring too much about the material state of the world, because your heaven is wherever you have love.
Love Trilogy (sex all over. one big shag)- a steaming minute-and-38 of red hot sex. The song starts off slow and chilled, and suddenly breaks into something harder. It then slows down slightly, and from this point gets harder and faster and wetter until it comes finally.
Flea, on the lyric- 'If you want to know about real lyrics, read Love Trilogy. That's what real lyrics are all about'. It's about love, and loving something that might not necessarily be the most beautiful thing in the world and loving something in spite of, or possibly because of, its flaws.
The Organic Anti-Beat Box Band (fun, hard and fast)- the chilis have only ever played organic music (not counting the synthesiser thruout By The Way, what were they thinking with that?) and pride themselves on this. This song is a big party song, like Me And My Friends and Good Time Boys in the following alum, Mother's Milk.