#19: Lou Reed, ‘New York’ (1989) vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ (1991)


New York is a wonder. With each listen the songs become more and more vivid. I absolutely love this album. Lou Reed’s decision for simple music under complex lyrics is admirable, but in a strange way the songs seem unfinished. I keep expecting some change in the middle, or even at the end, of the song. Perhaps a bridge or some coda or reprise or key change. If New York is a house, the songs are like peeking into a window, not getting the full view of what is inside. But as you keep staring in you see more and more detail and nuance.  As with all love letters, there is something deeper being communicated beyond the lyrical snapshots and paintings of scenes and people. With my lack of Lou depth I may be unaware that this is the beauty of his song writing. Sparse. Spare, and speaking to something greater. New York is a series of feeling-filled paintings, elevating the rock form to high art status.

Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a funk rock revelation. For the teenage set in the 90s this album hit all the right buttons, with its collection of stone cold summer jams and monster party hits like “Give it Away”, “Under the Bridge”, and “Suck My Kiss”. With most of their albums, the Red Hot Chili Peppers walk a tightrope of solid funk-rock, but at any moment can slip and fall into a soft netting (like balls in a swimsuit) of douche bag rock (in fact I think they might have inadvertently invented the genre). However on BSSM they stay firmly in the air. It is, by far, the best album they ever made. Their albums before this were infantile and the ones after just stood in the shadows of this funky monolith.

So the conclusion is that, with New York, I feel like I am looking at the iceberg. Knowing that below the water, there is so much more. With Blood Sugar Sex Magic they are at Funkrock Mountain’s peek. There is nothing deeper under the water.


WINNER: Lou Reed, New York (4 points)


80s: 14

90s: 18

80s: 31
90s: 37

Next week’s battle – #18: Prince, ‘Dirty Mind’ (1980) vs. R.E.M., ‘Automatic for the People’ (1992)

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