Blood Sugar Sex Magic is almost undeniably Red Hot Chili Peppers' finest moment.

Aided by Rick Rubin's bare-knuckles production, the 1991 album found the band in peak creative form, delivering its most diverse and consistently strong collection of songs.

The album spawned several hit singles, including their now-signature ballad "Under the Bridge," and sold more than 14 million copies, making them global superstars.

Cramming 73 minutes and 55 seconds of music onto one CD, Blood Sugar Sex Magik is also exactly one second shorter than Jimi Hendrix's 1968 double-album masterpiece Electric Ladyland.

That running time has drawn the attention of UCR's 45-Minute Album Police, who believe that the 45 minutes of music that could fit on a single vinyl record before the advent of CDs remain the ideal length for any album. So we recruited five writers to trim nearly half an hour from Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

 

Ryan Reed: I’ve always struggled with Red Hot Chili Peppers — mesmerized by the technical wizardry of Flea and John Frusciante, irritated by the bro-y stage presence and phallus-fueled lyrics of Anthony Kiedis. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is particularly challenging for me because those aesthetic extremes reach full amplification. Partly thanks to Rick Rubin’s bare-bones production and Frusciante’s textured psych-funk guitar, the album sounds stunning from start to finish — strip away the vocals and you’re left with one of the era’s most dynamic, colorful rock albums. But Kiedis’ incessant horniness and allergy to accurate pitch bog down a cool half-hour of this 74-minute beast.

My solution — and it’s not for everyone! — is simple: Do everything possible to accentuate melody and de-emphasize the dumb. Grabbing the scythe, it’s easy to start slicing: Bye bye, most of “Sir Psycho Sexy”; see ya, minute-long cover of Robert Johnson's “They’re Red Hot”; bon voyage, title track. All the singles are clearly keepers: It’s impossible to imagine the album not opening with Flea’s elastic bass riff on “The Power of Equality,” and who would have the heart to cut their most poignant piece, “Under the Bridge”?

I took a couple liberties with my track listing: bringing in two B-sides (the unfortunately titled instrumental “Fela’s Cock” and the tender “Soul to Squeeze,” later issued as a single) and keeping the instrumental section of “Sexy.” Mostly, though, I did my best to emphasize the songwriting — and underrated musical scope — of this blockbuster LP.

1. “The Power of Equality”
2. “Suck My Kiss”
3. “Give It Away”
4. “Soul to Squeeze”
5. “Breaking the Girl”
6. “Fela’s Cock”
7. “If You Have to Ask”
8. “I Could Have Lied”
9. “Sir Psycho Sexy” (closing instrumental section)
10. “Under the Bridge”

Watch Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Soul to Squeeze' Video

 

Allison Rapp: There's no denying the sheer punk-funk power Blood Sugar Sex Magik delivers. It's a completely apt title for such a record. Chock full of thick bass lines and downright carnal lyrics, it's pretty clear that producer Rick Rubin did what he does best, which is to say: Let the band go to town.

The hits on the LP speak for themselves, fast-paced funk melodies giving way to good guitar solos and bass breakdowns, while the quieter moments on the album ("I Could Have Lied," "Under the Bridge") offer the listener a moment to contemplate.

I've omitted "Suck My Kiss" simply because it ranks the lowest, in my opinion, of the singles from the album, but it isn't necessarily that parts of the record are weaker - the album as a whole is sequenced smartly. Rather, some of the momentum gets lost in the latter half. Songs like "Naked in the Rain," "Apache Rose Peacock" and "My Lovely Man" begin to sound a bit repetitive — engaging enough to be considered objectively good, though perhaps not engaging enough to warrant their inclusion on an album that  goes on for well over an hour. My track listing brings the album down to just a few seconds under 45 minutes, which is just enough time to pack a solid punch and get out of there. In the early '90s, a lot of bands, free from the constraints of traditional vinyl and liberated by just how much you could pack onto a compact disc, were making albums of this length, so RHCP's decision to keep them coming makes sense. But the strength of Blood Sugar Sex Magik is its unrelenting energy, which suffers slightly from having a handful too many songs.

1. “The Power of Equality”
2. “If You Have to Ask”
3. “Breaking the Girl”
4. “Funky Monks”
5. “I Could Have Lied”
6. “Give it Away”
7. “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”
8. “Under the Bridge”
9. “Sir Pyscho Sexy”
10. “They’re Red Hot”

Watch Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Under the Bridge' Video

 

Matthew Wilkening: Three-quarters of this job was very easy; the rest was quite difficult. There are no really bad or even mediocre songs on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, although a certain sense of sameness creeps in during the latter half of the album. The best and most diverse material wisely arrives early in the sequence, and many of those songs were also chosen as singles.

At more than eight minutes, "Sir Psycho Sexy" overstays its welcome and was the easiest cut, followed by "Apache Rose Peacock," which features one of Anthony Kiedis' hammiest and most overbearing performances. After that it got trickier: It could just as easily have been the title track that got the axe instead of "The Greeting Song" or "Naked in the Rain."

Also, it happened by accident, but "My Lovely Man" turned out to be a lovely closing track.

1. "The Power of Equality"
2. "If You Have to Ask"
3. "Breaking the Girl"
4. "Funky Monks"
5. "Suck My Kiss"
6. "I Could Have Lied"
7. "Give It Away"
8. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"
9. "Under the Bridge"
10. "My Lovely Man"

Watch Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Give It Away' Video

 

Bryan Rolli: Blood Sugar Sex Magik gave Red Hot Chili Peppers their commercial breakthrough and remains their best-selling album, and rightfully so: It’s their strongest LP pound for pound, and its singles are dynamite. Still, too much of a good thing can be bad, and boy, is there too much of everything on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

It’s not easy to hack nearly 30 minutes off this album, and the longtime RHCP fan in me wants to protest nearly all of these choices. Alas, in name of brevity, it must be done. Clocking in at over eight minutes, the meandering "Sir Psycho Sexy" is the first to go. Based solely on its length, it would have to be twice as good as every other song on this album to justify its inclusion. Spoiler alert: It’s not.

Next on the chopping block is "Funky Monks," admittedly a fine song with a terrific intro, but the rest is just RHCP-by-numbers. Same goes for "The Righteous & the Wicked" and "Apache Rose Peacock," which have better analogs in the title track and "Mellowship Slinky in B Major," respectively. And as much as I love RHCP's pulverizing riff-rock side, it's best in measured doses, so we can say goodbye to "Naked in the Rain" and "My Lovely Man." Those omissions add up to slightly more than 30 minutes, which means we can keep "They’re Red Hot" — because who doesn’t love ending a classic album with a raggedy Robert Johnson piss-take?

1. "The Power of Equality"
2. "If You Have to Ask"
3. "Breaking the Girl"
4. "Suck My Kiss"
5. "I Could Have Lied"
6. "Mellowship Slinky in B Major"
7. "Give It Away"
8. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"
9. "Under the Bridge"
10. "The Greeting Song"
11. "They're Red Hot"

Watch Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Breaking the Girl' Video

 

Corey Irwin: At one point, Rick Rubin wanted to make Blood Sugar Sex Magik a double album. It would have made sense, considering the sheer volume of material the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded during their stay at a (possibly haunted?) Hollywood Hills mansion. Still, even limited to one LP, there are some obvious candidates for removal.

First, let’s state the obvious: Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a damn good album. Four of the five singles are classics. Hell, I’d argue “Breaking the Girl” is the best song in the Chili Peppers’ entire catalog. The fifth single, “If You Have to Ask,” is solid but unspectacular. It stays, but it’s not nearly on the level of “Give It Away,” “Under the Bridge,” “Suck My Kiss” or “Breaking the Girl.”

Rousing opening track “The Power of Equality” should stay, and “Funky Monks” makes the cut based purely on groove and swagger. In an album that can at times sound too similar from track to track, “I Could Have Lied” deserves to be kept as a nice change of pace.

Quick math shows I’ve got about 10 minutes left to fill, so let’s turn things around and start cutting. “Sir Psycho Sexy” is unnecessary, especially at its 8:17 running time. I'm removing "The Righteous & the Wicked" and "Apache Rose Peacock," too, but is there such a thing as quality filler? Neither is a bad track, but there are simply better options worth keeping. I’d put “The Greeting Song,” “Naked in the Rain” and “My Lovely Man” in a similar category - I skipped them when I bought this CD, and I’m skipping them again now.

So the title track and "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" make the grade, as does the closing Robert Johnson cover “They’re Red Hot.” The latter track was recorded outside on a hillside at night while the band members looked down on cars driving through Laurel Canyon below them. Doesn’t necessarily make the song more memorable, but it’s still a cool way to close the album.

1. "The Power of Equality"
2. "If You Have to Ask"
3. "Breaking the Girl"
4. "Funky Monks"
5. "Suck My Kiss"
6. "I Could Have Lied"
7. "Mellowship Slinky in B Major"
8. "Give It Away"
9. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik"
10. "Under the Bridge"
11. "They're Red Hot"

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