Between naked punks with only socks on their cocks and (funk) rock superstars with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, the transitional album was this “Mother’s Milk” from 1989, released on 16th August 22 years ago. Just as curiosity, “Freaky Styley”, their second album was released also on 16th August, but four years earlier, in 1985.
Kiedis, Frusciante, Flea and Smith delivered a nervous, high energy material where funk and punk collided into groovy and pulsing music. “Mother’s Milk” also contains guitarist Hillel Slovak last recording, a cover version of The Jimi Hendrix Experience song “Fire”. Slovak died on June 25, 1988 due to a heroin overdose. The record also contains another cover, Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”.
“Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down”, “Taste the Pain” and “Pretty Little Ditty” are the more funky – and radio-friendly tracks – while “Magic Johnson”, “Stone Cold Bush”, “Fire” and “Punk Rock Classic” were kept the energy and rawness of punk and the other songs were blendings of both direction.
Kiedis, who had a history of heroin and cocaine use, became sober following Hillel Slovak’s death. The introspective lyrics, which analyze the death of Slovak and the devastating effect drugs can have on life, were a new approach for Kiedis, who primarily wrote mainly about sexual intercourse and a hedonistic lifestyle. Musically, Red Hot Chili Peppers build up a bridge between Black Flag and Stevie Wonder, something quite hard even to imagine before.
According to music journalist Jeff Apter, the song “Knock Me Down” was “clearly the most important track the band had ever laid down; it proved that these Peppers were more than knuckleheads with socks hanging off their cocks.” The song was originally recorded to be a duet between Kiedis and Frusciante, but the song was remixed before being released as a single and the new mix accidentally highlighted the guitarist’s voice instead of Kiedis’.
“Higher Ground”, the Stevie Wonder cover also helped the band to be noticed by a larger audience.
Similar to “Knock Me Down”, “Taste the Pain” have a smoother and melodic theme, these songs made the shift, the transition to the mainstream and musically to the Alternative Rock territories. With “Mother’s Milk” RHCP left the Punk/Hardcore underground definitely behind and looked into the further stardom.
The new album, “I’m With You” will be released on 30th August.