The Good: Great vocals, Decent guitarwork, Nice lyrics
The Bad: SHORT, Better versions exist on the market.
The Basics: With a very true "avoid it" recommendation, this particular c.d. single version of "Soul To Squeeze" is not worth hunting down for anyone but the obsessive fans.
I feel it is especially important for me to begin my review of the "Soul To Squeeze" single review with a stronger caveat than usual. Before most of my reviews of c.d. singles, I note that the c.d. single is a particularly poor use of the compact disc medium; there are very few c.d. singles I end up enthusiastically recommending. In the case of the "Soul To Squeeze" single, it is this particular version of the "Soul To Squeeze" single that is getting it panned so hard. I like "Soul To Squeeze;" it's a good song and it is one that seems like it did better than the movie it was associated with (Coneheads). The reason I'm so down on this particular version of "Soul To Squeeze" is because it is the version given to radio stations to play.
This review is for "Soul To Squeeze," the obscure, one-track version of the song. "Soul To Squeeze" was released on four different c.d. releases (two in 1991, two in 1993), as well as a 7" vinyl release and an audio cassette version. Each and every one of those six other releases have at least two tracks (always "Soul To Squeeze" and at least one other song). The 1991 c.d. single actually has six additional tracks! The only version of "Soul To Squeeze" that has a single track is the single sent to radio stations by Warner Brothers to be played. As a result, this version of "Soul To Squeeze" has one real purpose: collector's item for the Red Hot Chili Peppers die hard fans. Anyone who wants value and is a collector of Red Hot Chili Peppers music will want any one of the other single versions because they offer greater value and more music.
With a single song clocking out at under five minutes, "Soul To Squeeze" is very much a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Written by the quartet and produced by Rick Rubin, who produced most of the works for the recognizable quartet of Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, Chad Smith and Flea, "Soul To Squeeze" features only the band. Kiedis sings the band-written lines on his own and Frusciante, Smith and Flea back him on guitar, drums and bass. Despite its exploitation for the movie "Coneheads," this is very much a Red Hot Chili Peppers song and it is quite good.
The song is a pop-rock ballad in the traditional sense with Smith's drums keeping a slower beat and actually finding themselves sublimated to Flea's bass, which is powerful in this song. While the song is slow most of the time, there are two bridges: one for a whining guitar solo, another for a lyrical bridge where Kiedis sings quicker. The guitars are fairly simple and "Soul To Squeeze" is most musically notable for the strength of the vocals and the omnipresent bass, which is given a lot more movement in the song than either most Red Hot Chili Peppers songs or in rock music. Flea carries an undertone harmony throughout the song on his bass and it is one of the better examples of melodic basswork in pop-rock.
The vocals are very much those of a traditional rock ballad. Kiedis sings the the lines clearly in a tenor voice, enunciating with surprising clarity for the sometimes noisy or energetic vocalist. Here his voice is kind, emotive and clear. He sings the sometimes singsong, sometimes poignant lyrics with equal earnestness and it is easy to listen to "Soul To Squeeze" and imagine he is singing directly to every listener.
As for the lyrics, "Soul To Squeeze" is not a masterpiece of poetics, but it is a song that conveys a lot of emotion. Sung about pain and loss, the Kiedis opens with the classic lines "I've got a bad disease / Far from my brain is where I bleed / Insanity it seems / It's got me by my soul to squeeze." The song is an angsty song that captures perfectly and poetically the sense of falling through life out of control.
But despite this being a good song, it is impossible for me to recommend anyone look up this version of the single. Instead, there are better versions of the single or the same track shows up on the Greatest Hits And Videos album, which offers a far greater value.
For other works by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, please check out my reviews of:
By The Way
Greatest Hits And Videos
The Best Of Red Hot Chili Peppers
For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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