Record Breaker Series: Red Hot Chili Peppers' Sensational Freaky Styley album

It's hard to imagine a modern American pop scene without the enigmatic Red Hot Chili Peppers. Either panned by critics as was the case most recently with the judges of American Idol or beloved by concert-goers and record executives (the band now has multiple Grammy awards) - there is no substitute for their sound. This particular blog story is not about the band is it exists today, but what it was some 22 years ago - just after their formation in the LA punk rock and club scene. No longer, known as "Tony Flow and the Miraculous Masters of Mayhem" - Anthony Kiedis and company were now known as RHCP and they were just starting to make waves.

Breaking down my favorite RHCP album
The LA madmen were produced by George Clinton

The Chilis released the Freaky Styley album, their second record, in 1985. It stands as their most funk- and soul-influenced record to date. Modern fans of the band might find little in common with the sound captured here. The album was produced by Funk-Godfather George Clinton. The results are amazing, but the album did anything to endear record executives or the pop fans that year. The record did not chart (probably didn't profit) and the tour didn't draw many fans. College listeners were beginning to perk up to the sound, however, and the album was beginning to draw a cult following. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Hillel Slovak (הלל סלובק) and on drums (Jack Irons and Cliff Martinez).

The album touts a full horn section (*yeahhh!) and a song which samples from Dartmouth College graduate and children's writer Dr. Seuss (Big tip of the hat to "Yertle the Turtle.") The world was not ready for the punk slam acid soul on this record in 1985 - but maybe they are today. In 2003, the album was remastered (highly recommended) and today the album is fully enjoyable to the mature ear. Freaky Styley was way ahead of its time.

Freaky Styley track listing
(with tracks added in the 2003 re-mastered album version)
1. "Jungle Man" – 4:09
2. "Hollywood (Africa)" (The Meters) – 5:03
3. "American Ghost Dance" – 3:51
4. "If You Want Me to Stay"– 4:07
5. "Nevermind" – 2:47
6. "Freaky Styley" – 3:39
7. "Blackeyed Blonde" – 2:40
8. "The Brothers Cup" – 3:27
9. "Battleship" – 1:53
10. "Lovin' and Touchin'" – 0:36
11. "Catholic School Girls Rule" – 1:55
12. "Sex Rap" – 1:54
13. "Thirty Dirty Birds" – 0:14
14. "Yertle the Turtle" – 3:46

Bonus tracks on 2003 remastered version
15. "Nevermind" (demo) – 2:17
16. "Sex Rap" (demo) – 1:37
17. "Freaky Styley" (original long version) – 8:49
18. "Millionaires Against Hunger" – 3:28

The Brother's Cup
Catholic School Girls Rule


On these three tracks listen for:

* The overall Funk influence. You have to love George Clinton.
* Flea's raw bass in opposition to the horns on "The Brother's Cup." Good stuff!
* The harmony of voice and pounding of the drums on "Catholic School Girls Rule!"
* Feel the intentional disjointed beat and hear the defiance. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were making a statement here. It's a cultural thing.

early RHCP photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

(from left:) Irons, Flea, Kiedis & Slovak
- the Freaky Styley Chili Peppers

Kiedis and Slovak - who met during as the band was being formed in 1983, became fast friends and developed a heroin habit together. Within two years of the release of the Freaky Styley album, Slovak will overdose and die. The last Slovak song released by the Chili Peppers was "Fire" - the Jimi Hendrix cover on the Mother's Milk album. Slovak would be replaced in the band by John Frusciante, a young guitarist who he helped influence. Frusciante was a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan.

Add it to your collection!

Related Links - The place to find the diary and art of Hillel Slovak
Red Hot Chili Peppers - band history and significance on Wikipedia
Official Site - RHCP

There are more Record Breaker posts (my look at under-appreciated and overlooked record releases from the past) in the right sidebar of the webpage. Enjoy - they are all great!!!


JS said…
Greatest Album of the 80's
March2theSea said…
its a shame that the band ignores the first few albums in a live setting. The furthest back I have heard them do is "Me and My Friends" live from Uplift mofo party plan".

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