Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mother's Milk


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2010 | 148 replies


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Frusciante joins the crew, and the boys slowly start ascending to stardom.

The passing of Hillel Slovak left the Red Hot Chili Peppers in shambles. Jack Irons started suffering from depression following the loss of a good friend, leaving the band shortly after (later, he would go on to join Pearl Jam, only to leave there after two albums). Despite half the band falling out, Kiedis and Flea got themselves together and tried reforming a line-up. At first, guitarist DeWayne ‘Blackbird’ McKnight (Parliament-Funkadelic) and drummer D.H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys) were chosen as replacements, but the new formation failed to produce a chemistry akin to the one found on The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Although the two were soon fired, this led to a vital point in Chili Peppers history. Peligro was an acquaintance of a guitarist called John Frusciante, and recommended him for auditioning. Frusciante, only 19 back then, overwhelmed Kiedis and Flea with his playing, and was immediately admitted. After a longer search for a drummer, the band eventually encountered Chad Smith, who showed great interplay with Flea. In ’89, fourth album Mother’s Milk was released, and it proved to finally become a minor breakthrough for the band.

Although nothing like their first era, Mother’s Milk is still rooted in many of the band’s earlier tendencies. It is still very much a funk rock record, but Frusciante and Smith brought something new to the table. Frusciante had become a huge fan of Slovak, his predecessor setting a blueprint for him to build on, but liked to put more emphasis on melody than on grit. This created tensions with producer Michael Beinhorn, who gave Frusciante’s playing a loud, overpowering and noisy sound. In the end, it became a recognizable feature of the album, but in recent years, Frusciante has even refused to play anything from the album, simply because of what he sounded like. Nevertheless, this resulted in Mother’s Milk being an excellent bridge between the band’s first and later era, in which Frusciante fully developed his clean playing. Smith, on his part, has an even more driving beat than Irons, and while not known as being one of the most technically accomplished drummer of the scene, him and Flea have righteously earned the title of one of rock’s finest rhythm sections.

This all results in the band’s most consistent and rewarding album up to that point. With Mother’s Milk, Red Hot Chili Peppers became relevant. They were becoming a big fish. Proof is all over the place. Most will undoubtedly have heard the Stevie Wonder cover Higher Ground, a daring and very successful endeavour. While maintaining the groove of the original, the band make it something completely their own, and the track has easily remained their best cover. In fact, it remains one of the best songs on the album. Another true classic is the also well-known Nobody Weird Like Me. Next to the fantastic title, the song has some of Flea’s finest and fastest bass slapping, and Kiedis is moving into more accessible vocals, making his first foray into clean singing, also heard on some of the other tracks. Moreover, he song is everything the band had worked for in the previous years: it’s frenzied, energetic fun rock with a tremendous amount of chemistry between the players.

This same chemistry is repeated throughout all of the album. The fantastic guitar/bass interplay in opener Good Time Boys, a perfect introduction, the perfectly fitting trumpet in Subway to Venus, the harmonized voices of Kiedis and Frusciante in the softer Knock Me Down (a tribute to Slovak) and the addition of female backing vocals in Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky are just a few examples of those small things that yet add so much to Mother’s Milk. Flea is still all over the place, Kiedis’ singing is still growing, and both Frusciante and Smith make an impeccable début. Really, nothing could go wrong with the Peppers’ fourth album.

Ok, let’s not lie about it. Mother’s Milk definitely has a few of those filler/annoying moments also present in the band’s earlier work. Magic Johnson is another basically rap solo for Kiedis, which starts getting boring after about half a minute. The Jimi Hendrix cover Fire (which was, by the way, still recorded with Slovak and Irons) is repetitive and doesn’t add anything to the original. Punk Rock Classic is good a few times for humour value, but grows short soon enough (although the appeal lasts longer than the songs it was inspired upon). Pretty Little Ditty, at 1:46, seems another obvious candidate, looking at the band’s history with tracks this length, but is actually a rather beautiful instrumental that, for a single moment in the entire album, lets Frusciante have his melodic way with his superb guitar skills, only hinting at his later work (solo and with the band). The tiny knacks are luckily not a big dent in the full picture, especially when compared to the band's previous works.

Mother’s Milk is quite simply the point where this band started becoming, well, awesome. The formation of Kiedis + Flea + Frusciante + Smith has always been the best, and their first album was immediate proof of it. It has chemistry, it has energy, and it has some of the best Chili songs right on it. Therefore, it is also the first essential album for the band, and is right up there with the Blood Sugar Sex Magiks and Californications the boys created in later years. Get it, I tell you, if the tempting cover art didn’t already get you so far.

Mother’s Milk’s Red Hot Chili Peppers were:

- Anthony Kiedis ~ Lead Vocals, Art Concept
- Michael Peter ‘Flea’ Balzary ~ Bass Guitar, Trumpet
- John Anthony Frusciante ~ Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Chad Gaylord Smith ~ Drums, Percussion


Chili Classics:

Higher Ground
Subway to Venus
Nobody Weird Like Me
Knock Me Down
Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky



TO BE CONTINUED…



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user ratings (1012)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta love this record. It's on the verge of a 4.5 for me.

Jim
January 22nd 2010


5110 Comments


nice one man. look forward to BSSM.

Meatplow
January 22nd 2010


5524 Comments


I can't wait to hear this one. Great review.

Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Then get on with it and tell me what you think. It's blasphemy you've heard their first three, but not this. Also thanks for the approval guys, much appreciated as always.

Meatplow
January 22nd 2010


5524 Comments


I've heard Higher Ground, Knock Me Down, Taste The Pain, Fire and Johnny, Kick A Hole In The Sky plenty of times if that counts for anything.

Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Those are some of the best (as you can see in the recs list), so that sure counts for something. Nevertheless, make listening to this a priority.

renegadestrings
January 22nd 2010


1466 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Mother’s Milk is quite simply the point where this band starting becoming, well, awesome." ---
startED becoming

"Blood Sugar Sex Magiks" --- isn't it Magik?

"The tiny knacks are, more than on any of the band’s previous albums, luckily not a big dent in the
full picture." ---- this sentence is more awkward than a middle school dance. just take out the
entire middle part and say, "The tiny knacks, luckily, are not big dents in the full picture." or
maybe just say something else entirely

renegadestrings
January 22nd 2010


1466 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review by the way. Stone Cold Bush is one of my personal faves, love the funky vibe

Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks renegade, but the second one is meant to be written like that, as it puts it in plurar; meaning 'those kind of albums' if you catchy my drif. Will fix the others now.

Dreamsoffew
January 22nd 2010


1002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Last sentence of the first paragraph reads " Mother’s Milk was released, and it proved to be finally become a minor breakthrough for the band."
Extra be? Great review though dude!

Jim
January 22nd 2010


5110 Comments


the extra b is for byobb

Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, they're some tiny mistakes in here, looks like I wrote it up a bit too hastily. Again, will fix.

DiceMan
January 22nd 2010


7068 Comments


She has some pretty nice tits. I've decided that this is the next band I'm going to go through the discography for once I'm done with Isis

Dreamsoffew
January 22nd 2010


1002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Probably my second favourite album by the Chili's. Blood Sugar Sex Magik 1st, then Californication 3rd.

renegadestrings
January 22nd 2010


1466 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ooooooooooooooooooh, i gotcha. i didn't catch the 'Californications' afterwards. my b

Nagrarok
January 22nd 2010


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Most mistakes should be fixed. Nag will be leaving now, leave the comments, I'll only be able to reply sometime tomorrow.

Douchebag
January 22nd 2010


3624 Comments


I've only heard a couple of tracks off this and I'm sort of annoyed i've never got around to hearing the whole thing since I keep pushing it back.

I'll make a metal note to check this out very soon.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2010


8387 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review as always. I probably won't comment on every single one of your RHCP reviews since I'm really out of original things to say to you haha. Still, know that I'm keeping tabs on this RHCP discography reviewing of yours.

Enotron
January 22nd 2010


7695 Comments


I agree with Frusciante, the guitar sound is way too macho on this record.

EVedder27
January 22nd 2010


6088 Comments


Nicely done, album is actually pretty underrated.



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