I still hold this up as a fantastic album, over Blood Sugar Sex Magik any day, and proof at just how much a band that was dangerously cutting-edge had descended into mediocrity and the middle of the road.
When I was first getting into music in the early ‘90s, the Chili Peppers were promoting Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and this was generally considered to be their masterpiece. There’s a raft of great songs on that album – but they really over-stretched themselves (the album has a running time of 74 minutes, which I think was one of the longest single albums around on CD at the time). Mother’s Milk, on the other hand, is far more compact. It’s their first album with John Frusciante and Chad Smith, and their choice (and subsequent performance) of covers – Hendrix’s Fire and Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground is outstanding.
The only negative point I now hear in the album is one moment in the otherwise sublime Hendrix-esque Pretty Little Ditty, later used heavily as the sample in the song Butterfly, by one-hit wonder rock/rap act Crazy Town. The world needs fewer bands like Crazy Town, where image – tattoos and baseball caps – matters more than originality.
Of all the bands in the world playing to the masses in aircraft hangar-sized arenas, it’s the Chili Peppers I wish I could turn backwards. Nearly every other band at that level has had a generally understandable progression from where they came from, into what they are now, but the Chili Peppers are like a completely different band. They used to take risks – now they just write songs for rich American college kids. What a shame.
Hit: Knock Me Down
Hidden Gem: Johnny, Kick A Hole In The Sky