One of the most solid and dynamic rhythm sections in modern music belongs to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, with drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea about as good as it gets. Here’s the isolated bass and drums to one of their first hits – “Give It Away,” from the groups 5th studio album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Here’s what to listen for.
1. There’s a lot of long reverb on the snare. And it pops through the mix because he’s hitting it so hard.
2. The kick is on the left channel, although it’s not like that on the final mix of the record. The final sound of the kick is also different, as you’d expect.
3. Listen to how solid and controlled the high-hat work of Chad Smith is. It doesn’t move the entire song.
4. The bass is well controlled. Considering how aggressive Flea plays, the level is very steady and even. This type of playing is some of the most difficult for an engineer to deal with.
5. There are a few slight bass mistakes at 2:12 (at the end of the lick on the turnaround), at 3:36, and at 3:42 that we’d fix today in the era of the DAW (this was recorded back in the tape days), but I bet you never heard them in the context of the song.
6. Listen through to the end to hear the ending that’s not on the final record.
If you like looking at the inside workings of a hit, check out my Deconstructed Hits series of books, where I take a detailed look at the song form, arrangement, sound and production of the hits we love.