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RECORD RACK

Solid Smoke From Reconstituted Pep Boys : RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS "Mother's Milk." EMI ** 1/2

November 05, 1989|DON WALLER

The sharpest hook on the fourth LP by Los Angeles' newly reconstituted Pep Boys--dedicated to the group's late guitarist Hillel Slovak--is the sound of Anthony Kiedis singin' Sly-ly, "If you see me gettin' high, knock me down," on the song "Knock Me Down." That tune, and the w-i-l-double-d mamma-slamma-jamma-splunka-punk-funk of "Magic Johnson" might burn the brightest, buds, but the rest of this largely thrashin' LP is pretty solid smoke too.

Rockin' hard in a funky place, new six-stringer John Frusciante and stickman Chad Smith are definitely up to all the slap 'n' tickle, goofy-footed energy that founding masterbassist Flea can muster. Memorable melodies, however, are a shorter story here, and--strangely--the twin where-we're-comin'-from versions of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" and Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" rank among the disc's least arresting moments. Listen, it's a cult jam, best eaten with a parfait spoon.

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