Some words of wisdom – Flea talks about making the transition from being a ‘badass bassplayer’ to playing what’s right for the song. We can all use this reminder every once in a while, or more.
Mellowship Slinky in B Major – Make something this funky out of a B7 arpeggio – I dare you. John Frusciante’s guitar playing is among his most sublime, but maybe that’s beside the point today.
For me the Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the finest RHCP record, the perfect mix of stripped down funk, melody and attitude. This cut has it all. Listen for the greasy smears and inflections and the subtle variations and fills. Perfect Musicman tone, possibly this choice of bass influenced by Louis Johnson, one of the fathers of slapping – we’ll get to him in time….
Sir Psycho Sexy …. A perfect combination of aggressive filtered funk and subtle melodic playing on the epic outro. Listen to how each time around the chord sequence he develops the line without drawing attention to it. Great interplay between bass and each of the drums and guitar. Flea is not typically known for this style of playing, although it is where he spends his time now.
Speaking of which – a few records later John Frusciante rejoined the group for the ‘Californication’ album. Reputedly at the end of recording Blood Sugar he “swam down the toilet bowl, through the sewers to the open ocean and freedom” – this album marks somewhat of a return to form after Dave Navarro’s valiant efforts to fill his shoes on ‘Warped’. On this album ‘Aeroplane’ is a wonderful example of self -confessed trashy white boy funk.
The title cut features lovely interplay again, Flea also employs a masterful command of the simple power of register changes. Listen to how he dives down for the low notes for emotional impact in various sections. Also there’s some lovely accompaniment to the guitar solo.
I wanted to let the music speak before I tried to. For me Flea is the fusion of Louis Johnson’s thumping, the energy and emotion of punk rock channeling a simple earthy sexuality through a love of musics as different as Led Zeppelin, Sly and Family Stone and Miles Davis. While some critics have panned their live shows and perhaps there are some albums that stand out above the crowd the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a fun band and Flea will always have a place in the bass pantheon.
“Cocaine is a hell of a drug!” – Rick James