Back in 1989-90, during my freshman year of high school, I bought my first Sony Discman and hooked it up to a cassette boombox I owned to be able to play and collect compact discs for the first time. And while I remember this time well, I can never quite remember which was my first CD... was it The Black Crowes' Shake Your Money Maker or the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk?
I'm not sure I'll ever have the answer to that question without access to a time machine or deep memory probe. But they were both amazing albums that inspired my future music tastes heavily and ones I still listen to regularly today, more than 30 years later.
Given that I've already covered My Favorite Song by The Black Crowes, maybe it's time to do the same with the Chili Peppers.
Despite their expansive discography, Mother's Milk, my very first RHCP album, remains my favorite.
In many ways, I view this album to the Peppers as a career parallel to Metallica's ...And Justice For All. Both bands had released multiple albums by this point in time that, while popular, went comparatively "under the radar" when matched up to subsequent releases. Both albums sound very similar to their previous sound although tinged with a bit of evolution overall. And both only really had one hit song, but it was a HUGE hit. For Metallica, that single was "One" and, for the Peppers, it was "Higher Ground," a cover of Stevie Wonder's Motown hit. For both bands, nothing was the same after this album in their careers. That one song took off like wildfire selling tons of records and making each band the sales and influence leader in their particular genres.
Does that make "Higher Ground" My Favorite Song? Nope. For me, that honor goes to a rap-funk fusion much later in the album dedicated to my and the band's favorite basketball player "Magic Johnson."
I have always loved this song and the lyrics tend to just pop into my brain at odd moments and stick there on repeat for hours upon glorious hours.
L A Lakers, fast break makers,
kings of the court, shake and bake all takers.
Back to back is a badass fact,
a claim that remains... intact.
M-A-G-I-C. Magic on the court.
Buck has come to play his way and his way is to thwart.
M-A-G-I-C. Magic of the Buck.
Other teams pray for dreams but he don't give a [shot clock buzzer].
But what I also loved was that, despite this song being named for and dedicated to Magic, they also give love to other members of the team, of whom I was also a fan.
Scott stops, pops, and drops it in
On his way back, gets a little skin
From the hand of a man named AC Green
Slam so hard, break your TV screen
Worthy's hot with his tomahawk
Take it to the hole, make your mama talk
Plus it has some of my absolute favorite guitar work from John Frusciante in his RHCP debut.
[image courtesy of Rolling Stone]
M-A-G-I-C. In Buck we trust.
Restoring order to the court, and justice is a must.
You really gotta just hear this one for yourself if you haven't already. It's such an amazing fanboy tribute from a band who would very soon inspire all kinds of fanboy tributing of their own and continue to do so for the next 30 years.
Does anybody want some? MAGIC JOHNSON!
Maybe one of these days, I'll finally see the band play live.
For the record, I had no idea the band was sued by Dawn Alane, the model on the album cover. They never let her know her photo was chosen and she wasn't compensated accordingly. Seems to happen a lot.