Review Summary: Red Hot Chili Peppers create the album they should have created 3 years before it instead.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
, was quite an ironic release. For the first time since the band’s inception in their high school years, the original formation would record an album together, as drummer Jack Irons returned to the front, replacing Cliff Martinez, in the same manner guitarist Hillel Slovak had come to replace Jack Sherman before Freaky Styley
. At the same time, it would also be the last occasion on which the original band would play together. Shortly after touring for the album, Slovak died of a heroin overdose, which was actually the cause of the Peppers’ eventual catapultation into fame (and eventually, more guitarist misfortune). TUMPP
marks the end of an era for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the end of their early, raw funk approach.
Hillel Slovak: (April 13, 1962 – June 25, 1988)
The reason the first incarnation of the band was able to get recognition in the first place was because of their chemistry and energy. As good as some of the moments on The Red Hot Chili Peppers
and Freaky Styley
might have been, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
was the album the band had wanted to, and should have made 3 years earlier. Here, the energy of the quartet remains unparalleled, and even though the Peppers have later reached greater heights, this was them perfecting their earliest sound . The much improved chemistry, and therefore, performance, kicks in right from the beginning. Flea’s bass is as strong as always, but doesn’t overpower as much as it used to do. With Irons’ beats added to it, the rhythm section lays down a backbone funk groove we, before this album, didn’t know the band were capable of. The lead is equally effective. Slovak’s guitar is loud and sufficiently present, especially compared to his previous performance, and Kiedis is at his best yet, fuelling the band with crazed, passionate rapping.
Especially the first half of the album is proof of this all, and contains most highlights. The distorted Slovak lead on Fight Like a Brave
, the eclectic Funky Crime
, the more straightforwardly rockin’ Backwoods
, the outstanding bass on Behind the Sun
and Walkin’ Down the Road
, most tracks have their own special moments going for them. Nevertheless, even TUMPP
is marred by a few inconsistencies and missteps. The cover of the Bob Dylan
classic Subterranean Homesick Blues
has an impressive rap delivery by Kiedis (pretty much a solo moment for him), but the track is so unrecognizable it could have been a 2:34 rap written by the band themselves. Nothing of interest whatsoever is done with the original. Skinny Sweaty Man
is another one added to the joke track collection, but it is Kiedis’ pre-occupation with sex-related material that produces some of the more annoying moments on the record. Sure, Special Secret Song Inside
, No Chump Love Sucker
and Love Trilogy
may seem fun at first, but after repeated listens, they tend to wear out their appeal.
Despite these few moments of negativity, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
remains the most consistent thing to come out of the Peppers’ first era. Just take a look at that colourful cover art. It’s full of energy, and so is this record. Some of this tremendous energy may have been expressed in wrong ways, but the chemistry the quartet has is undeniable. It is a particular sound that, with the death of Slovak and following departure of Irons, the band have never been recaptured. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, for fourth release Mother’s Milk
was to be the boys’ best work yet.
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan’s Red Hot Chili Peppers were:
- Anthony Kiedis ~ Lead Vocals
- Michael Peter ‘Flea’ Balzary ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Hillel Slovak (R.I.P) ~ Lead Guitar, Sitar, Vocoder, Backing Vocals
- Jack Steven Irons ~ Drums, Backing Vocals
Fight Like A Brave
Behind the Sun
TO BE CONTINUED…