Red Hot Chili Peppers

Give It Away

Composed by Anthony Kiedis / Chad Smith / Flea / John Frusciante

Song Review by

The first single off the Red Hot Chili Peppers' quadruple-platinum smash Blood Sugar Sex Magik, "Give It Away" didn't achieve the massive pop success of its follow-up, "Under the Bridge," barely peaking in the Top 75, but it did become one of the band's most instantly recognizable songs, thanks mostly to Anthony Kiedis' nonsensical raps, Flea's jumping, sliding, popping bass line, and Pete Weiss' jew's-harp boinging away in the background; plus, MTV jumped all over the visually distinctive video, which featured the scantily clad bandmembers cavorting in the desert wearing silver body paint. Kiedis' lyrics were a free-associative mixture of positive vibes, tributes to musical heroes, and free love, and their literal meaning was often as difficult to understand as Kiedis' nasal, staccato enunciation. But that distinctive vocal style helped make the most comprehensible lines even catchier and more memorable, greatly enhancing the song's appeal. John Frusciante's guitar should not be underappreciated either, his noisy, scratchy funk-rock work adding depth and texture to the powerhouse rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith. Frusciante also adds the song's two most unpredictable change-ups: a sudden contrast to Kiedis' hyperactivity in the form of a languid solo pre-recorded and dubbed backwards over the rhythm track, and a hard-rocking riff which is not introduced until the song's outro and bears a more than suspicious resemblance to Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf." Funky and hard-rocking, horny and cheerfully loopy all at the same time, "Give It Away" stands as one of the Chili Peppers' best singles, and a landmark single in relation to popular acceptance of funk-metal.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Blood Sugar Sex Magik 1991 Warner Bros. 4:44
Give It Away 1991 Warner Bros. 6:49
Under the Bridge 1992 Warner Bros.
MTV Party to Go, Vol. 4 1993
Various Artists
Tommy Boy 6:00
Kerrang!: The Album 1994
Various Artists
Alex 4:44
Plasma 1994 Alex
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Smash Hits '94 1994
Various Artists
What's Up, Vol. 2: More Greatest Rock Hits of the 90's 1994
Various Artists
Warner Music 4:44
Rocks Off 1995
Various Artists
Live Rare Remix Box 1999 WEA International 6:50
Off the Map [Video/DVD] 2001 Warner Bros. 5:31
Live at Slane Castle [Video] 2003 WVI
Live in Hyde Park 2004 Warner Music 13:15
The Work of Director Stéphane Sednaoui [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Palm/Directors/Abbey Road
The Red Hot Chili Peppers Phenomenon 2006 Classic Rock Legends
Factory of Faith: Live 2011 2012 IDS / Showlight
Sweet Home San Diego 2016 Zip City 7:18
Woodstock 1994 Sonic Boom 6:35
blue highlight denotes editor's pick