Mother's Milk (Remastered)

Mother's Milk (Remastered)

Following the death of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak in 1988 and the subsequent departure of founding drummer Jack Irons, the Red Hot Chili Peppers rebooted as an alternative-rock powerhouse that would dominate alternative radio and fill arenas the world over. Eighteen-year-old wunderkind guitarist John Frusciante, raised on the wild solos of Frank Zappa and the spiraling filigrees of Slovak himself, would give the band a sensibility that was equal parts melodic and virtuosic. The incredibly hard-hitting drummer Chad Smith, a six-foot-three AOR-and-funk pounder from the Midwest, would provide the muscle and finesse that would carry the band through the 1990s and beyond. And with producer Michael Beinhorn adding a crunchy, alt-metal sheen, the lineup’s first album together, Mother’s Milk, would ultimately turn a cult underground band into a mainstream force: It would be the band’s first gold record, and finally let the band break into the Billboard Top 100. Much of the success of Mother’s Milk can be credited to the band’s giddy cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” which reimagined the original’s silky organ melody as a deeply percussive machine-gun of slap-bass, and turned the chorus into a party sung by 25 of the Peppers’ closest friends. But not every moment on Mother’s Milk was as full of uplift. After spending much of the 1980s as an uncontainable punk-funk band, the Peppers began to turn introspective: The album’s second hit single, “Knock Me Down,” is a reflective look at drug addiction (Kiedis started it before Slovak’s death, and finished it as a love song for the departed guitarist). And “Taste the Pain,” recorded for the Say Anything soundtrack, describes a heartbreak in great detail: “Busted in two like a brittle stick,” Kiedis rap-sings, “I cannot drink because my throat constricts.” Of course, much of the Peppers 2.0 was as hedonistic as ever (“Stone Cold Bush,” “Sexy Mexican Maid”) and as celebratory as ever (“Good Time Boys,” “Subway to Venus”). However, it would be the album’s tender outlier, the vulnerable, sparse instrumental “Pretty Little Ditty”—not even two minutes long on the original issue—that would keep Mother’s Milk playing well into the next mille

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