In a perfect world, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' breakthrough album wouldn't have been 1989's Mother's Milk, but 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, and the history of this groundbreaking rock/rap band (and likely the entire subgenre it created) would've been drastically changed. But the Chili Peppers created most of the imperfections in their world, especially in the late '80s, and the unusual scenario of four original bandmembers recording together for the first time on that band's third album would tragically prove to be a one-shot deal. Veterans Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Flea (bass) had welcomed back original guitarist Hillel Slovak for the preceding Freaky Styley album after using Jack Sherman on their self-titled 1984 debut, doing the same at this point for original drummer Jack Irons, who replaced Cliff Martinez. The energy of having these four friends from Los Angeles back together jumps out of the opening anthem "Fight Like a Brave" and the experimental "Funky Crime"; tracks like the autobiographical "Me & My Friends" and closing "Organic Anti-Beat Box Band" would stay in the group's live repertoire for the next decade or more. Kiedis' barking rap delivery drives the cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and Flea's ahead-of-their-time slapping basslines stand out in "Behind the Sun" and "Walkin' on Down the Road," but Slovak and Irons brought things to the Chili Peppers that no one else ever has. The drummer's pounding funk backbeats left a blueprint for his successor, Chad Smith, and the manic intro to "Skinny Sweaty Man" sounds like Buddy Rich playing James Brown material. Slovak is at the height of his powers on the rap-rock reggae "Love Trilogy" and funky "Special Secret Song Inside," which gained some notoriety for its anatomical undertones. But Slovak would die of a heroin overdose the following year, with Irons quitting the band afterward from the depression of the loss. Kiedis and Flea would come to grips with their own drug habits and return with Smith and guitarist John Frusciante on Mother's Milk, breaking into the arena circuit with a hit cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" -- and leaving Kiedis and Flea to wonder what might have been.
AllMusic Review by Bill Meredith