Freaky Styley

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Freaky Styley
Studio album by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Released August 16, 1985
Recorded May 1985
Studio United Sound Studios, Detroit, MI
Genre Funk rock, jazz-funk, rap rock
Length 40:11
Language English
Label EMI Records
Producer George Clinton
Red Hot Chili Peppers chronology
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
(1984)
Freaky Styley
(1985)
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
(1987)
Singles from Freaky Styley
  1. "Jungle Man"
    Released: August 16, 1985
  2. "Catholic School Girls Rule (video only)"
    Released: August 16, 1985
  3. "Hollywood (Africa)"
    Released: August 16, 1985

Freaky Styley is the second studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on August 16, 1985 on EMI Records. The album name holds its origins in a commonly used phrase in the '80s to describe anything as being "freaky styley". Freaky Styley marks founding guitarist Hillel Slovak's studio album debut, following his return to the band earlier in the year. The album is also the last to feature drummer Cliff Martinez. Freaky Styley was produced by George Clinton, of Parliament-Funkadelic.

Background[edit]

Red Hot Chili Peppers was formed by Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Flea and Jack Irons while they attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.[1] Originally named Tony Flow & the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, the group was originally meant as a one-off band for the purpose of playing only one show, but after a positive crowd reception, the band changed its name to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, playing several more shows at various LA clubs and musical venues. The group was noticed by EMI and signed with the record label. Slovak and Irons still considered the Red Hot Chili Peppers as only a side project and so they quit to focus on their band What Is This?, which had signed a record contract two weeks earlier. Kiedis and Flea subsequently recruited guitarist Jack Sherman and drummer Cliff Martinez to complete the band's lineup.[2] Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill produced the first album. Gill, who "didn't embrace [the band's] musical aesthetic or ideology," argued constantly with the band over the record's style and pushed the band to play with a cleaner, crisper, more radio-friendly sound.[3] Their eponymous debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers was released on August 10, 1984. Though the album did not set sales records, airplay on college radio and MTV helped to build a fan base,[4] and the album ultimately sold 300,000 copies. However, the band was disappointed in the record's overall sound, feeling it was overly polished, as if it had "gone through a sterilizing Goody Two-shoes machine".[5]

During the ensuing tour, continuing musical and lifestyle tension between Kiedis and Sherman complicated the transition between concert and daily band life.[6] Sherman was fired soon after, with Slovak returning to the Chili Peppers after growing tired of What is This?. Because the Red Hot Chili Peppers did not have a positive experience working with Gill on their previous record, the group began searching for a new producer for the new album.[7] The first potential producer the band worked with was Malcolm McLaren, who had worked with the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow. However, McLaren suggested they changed their style to play more simplified, 1950s-style rock and roll and make Kiedis the central character, a change the group vehemently opposed.[7] After receiving comparisons from fans to Parliament-Funkadelic, the band indicated to EMI Records its desire to work with frontman George Clinton.[7] The band contacted Clinton and sent him their debut album and demo tapes, and Flea and the band's manager, Lindy, traveled to Detroit to meet him.[7] Clinton agreed to work with the band, and EMI paid him $25,000 to produce the album.[8]

Recording[edit]

The band felt a strong chemistry with producer George Clinton (pictured in 2007).

The band had already written approximately 70 percent of the album by the time the group traveled to Michigan to record the album.[8] Clinton decided that the band would spend a month with him before recording to bond and create ideas for new songs.[8] Before renting a house of their own, the group members stayed in Clinton's house in the village of Brooklyn, about an hour away from Detroit, for a week.[9] The band was excited to live with Clinton, but as soon as Kiedis moved in, he began experiencing severe heroin withdrawal, and became very ill. He attempted to offset his desire for heroin by using cocaine instead, but his relief was short-lived.[10] After a few days, however, his symptoms subsided and he was able to join the group in playing music and connecting with Clinton.[10] The Red Hot Chili Peppers felt a strong chemistry with Clinton and enjoyed his quirky personality and storytelling abilities.[10] After a week of living with him, the band moved into a house on a nearby golf course.[11]

Freaky Styley was recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit. Martinez recalled that "George had a party atmosphere in the studio all the time, but a productive party atmosphere. You took care of business, but he made sure you had a lot of fun doing it."[12] The band and Clinton began using copious amounts of cocaine together, which had a negative effect on the band's overall health.[11] When the time came for Kiedis to record his vocals, he decided to abstain from cocaine use for two weeks, an experience he likened to "deciding to be celibate when you're living in a brothel."[13] The track "Yertle the Turtle" incorporates several verses directly from Dr. Seuss' poem also named "Yertle the Turtle." As stated by Kiedis in his autobiography, Scar Tissue, the spoken lyrics at the beginning saying "Look at that turtle go bro." and throughout the song were by George Clinton's drug dealer who demanded debts be paid by Clinton. Unable to repay the dealer, Clinton offered him a part in the album.[14]

Composition[edit]

Music[edit]

According to Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic, Freaky Styley is "the closest the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever came to straight funk."[15] The album marks the return of guitarist Hillel Slovak, and Kiedis observed that Slovak's playing evolved during his time away from the group in What Is This?, with the guitarist adopting a more fluid style featuring "sultry" elements as opposed to his original hard rock techniques.[16] The band also experimented with a more diverse variety of musical genres on Freaky Styley. "Jungle Man" contains psychedelic rock-styled guitar, layered background vocals, and an "urgent, aggressive dance beat".[17] "Catholic School Girls Rule" draws influence from punk rock music, while "Blackeyed Blonde" has been described as "Aerosmith meets Isaac Hayes".[17] The album features covers of "If You Want Me to Stay" by Sly and the Family Stone, and "Africa" by The Meters. Clinton helped with the vocal arrangements and provided his own vocals for a portion of "Hollywood (Africa)".[18]

Lyrics[edit]

"Catholic School Girls Rule" was inspired by a sexual encounter Kiedis had with a fourteen-year-old Catholic school student in New Orleans while on tour in 1984.[19] "Jungle Man" was dedicated to Flea, whom Kiedis used to create a fictionalized persona of "this half-man, half-beast born in the belly of the volcano in Australia coming to the world and using his thumb as the conductor of thunder on the bass."[8] The lyrics of the band's cover of "Africa" by The Meters differ slightly from the original, intended to reflect the group's hometown of Hollywood. At the time, Flea listened repeatedly to the Meters and wanted to cover one of the group's songs, and Clinton suggested that the group use the opportunity to dedicate a song to Hollywood, saying, "What if you did the song 'Africa' but had Anthony do a rewrite so it's no longer 'Africa', but it's your 'Africa', which is Hollywood?"[18]

Artwork[edit]

The cover artwork features the band jumping in front of Michelangelo's 'The Last Judgment'.

Reception[edit]

The album did not garner mainstream success and failed to enter the Billboard 200.[20] In the liner notes to the 2003 remastered edition of the album, bassist Flea states:[21]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[22]

However, the album was more positively-received by critics than the band's debut album. Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic felt that Clinton's production helped to make Freaky Styley an improvement over The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and enjoyed Slovak's return, noting that the guitarist "makes a major contribution to practically every song".[15] He further wrote that "the Peppers have a good clutch of songs to work with in addition to excellent production. And too, they seem relaxed and at ease here, playing quirky songs without any self-consciousness, a quality lacking on their debut."[15] Ira Robbins of Rolling Stone called the album "wilder, rougher, funnier and funkier" than The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and opined that "the Chili Peppers are taking advantage of the current crossover free-for-all to universalize funk by expanding its limits and incorporating new ingredients without diluting the basic bump. Fed up with the empty calories of effete high-tech dance records? Freaky Styley is stick-to-the-ribs rock that puts meat back in the motion."[17] However, editor Nathan Brackett writes in the The New Rolling Stone Record Guide, 4th Edition that both Freaky Styley and The Red Hot Chili Peppers contain "not a single memorable song" and suggests that the band's "funk-monkey shtick camouflaged serious musical deficiencies".[23]

Tour and Jack Irons returns[edit]

Main article: Freaky Styley tour

The tour for Freaky Styley known as the Infinity Tour began in 1985. Both Kiedis and Slovak were beginning their long (and in Slovak's case soon to be fatal) battles with drugs on this tour. The band decided to begin recording their third album in the spring of 1986 but by this time drummer Cliff Martinez decided he just didn't have the heart to continue, though rather than quitting, Kiedis and Flea fired Martinez. To the band's amazement, founding drummer, Jack Irons decided to return and for the first time since 1983 the original lineup was together. Together, the reunited lineup finished the remainder of the Freaky Styley tour. Following the end of the tour, Kiedis' drug problems were so bad that he was briefly fired from the band.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Anthony Kiedis, (Jack Sherman)

Flea, Cliff Martinez), except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Jungle Man"     4:09
2. "Hollywood (Africa)"   The Meters 5:03
3. "American Ghost Dance"     3:44
4. "If You Want Me to Stay"   Sylvester Stewart 4:07
5. "Nevermind"   Flea, Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Jack Irons 2:48
6. "Freaky Styley"     3:39
7. "Blackeyed Blonde"     2:39
8. "The Brothers Cup"     3:27
9. "Battleship"     1:53
10. "Lovin' and Touchin'"     0:36
11. "Catholic School Girls Rule"   Flea, Kiedis, Martinez 1:55
12. "Sex Rap"   Flea, Kiedis, Irons, Slovak 1:54
13. "Thirty Dirty Birds"     0:14
14. "Yertle the Turtle"     3:38

Personnel[edit]

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Additional musicians
Recording personnel
  • George Clinton - producer
  • John Bauer - second engineer
  • Jim "JB" Baurlein - mixing ("Sex Rap")
  • Ron McMaster - remastering
  • Bruce Nazarrian - mixing ("Yertle the Turtle")
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - mixing ("Sex Rap")
  • Jim Vitti - mixing ("The Brother's Cup" and "Blackeyed Blonde")
  • Greg Ward - engineer, mixing
  • Fred Wesley - horn arrangements
Additional personnel
  • Nels Israelson - photography
  • Henry Marquex - art direction
  • Peter Shea - design
  • Muruga Booker - massages
  • The Meters - composer on "Hollywood (Africa)"
  • Joe Sherman - composer
  • Sly Stone - composer on "If You Want Me to Stay"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Red Hot Chili Peppers > Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved June 5, 2007. 
  2. ^ Kiedis & Sloman 2004, p. 127
  3. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, p. 142
  4. ^ Prato, Greg. "The Red Hot Chili Peppers > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved July 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, 145
  6. ^ Kiedis & Sloman 2004, pp. 133–134
  7. ^ a b c d Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 169
  8. ^ a b c d Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 170
  9. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, pp. 170-171
  10. ^ a b c Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 171
  11. ^ a b Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 172
  12. ^ Mullen, 2010. p. 157
  13. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 175
  14. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, pp. 174-175
  15. ^ a b c d Birchmeier, Jason. "Freaky Styley - Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, p. 168
  17. ^ a b c d Robbins, Ira (October 24, 1985). "Review - Freaky Styley". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 173
  19. ^ Kiedis, Sloman, 2004. p. 159
  20. ^ "Freaky Styley - Red Hot Chili Peppers". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  21. ^ Liner notes to Freaky Styley remaster (2003)
  22. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rollingstone.com. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  23. ^ Brackett, Nathan (November 2, 2004). "Red Hot Chili Peppers Album Guide". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Fireside Books. Retrieved February 5, 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]