1987: hair metal is at its height and the most commercial and mainstream music charts the Billboard. Pop music dominates and yet, new styles are about to emerge mixing hard rock, rap, and funk which is exactly what this album does. For the Chili Peppers, commercial success is a long time coming as their first two albums failed to make a dent on the charts and constant change of personnel (not to mention heavy drug use) prevented them from finding stability and the right chemistry. However, with the return of founding member Jack Irons on the drum seat, the pieces of the puzzle came together and they finally got a proper chance at making their initial vision happen.
Let’s go straight to the point: The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is one of the best Chili Peppers album. Often overlooked or simply forgotten after the success of 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magic, this effort shows for the first time the true creative capacities of the L.A. quartet. The album is remarkable for Flea’s bass and Slovak guitar’s work. It seems like for the first time, musical skills are put to the service of the song instead of ego. Flea already shows that he is a true bass master slapper and Slovak capacity to combines his Hendrix influences with heavy metal and funk lay the fondation for this album. Throw in the heavy hitting of the well named Irons and the furious rapping skills of Kiedis and you obtain one of the best album of the eighties.
Lyrics may be the only (relatively) weak point here as Kiedis revolves around his topics of choice (drugs and sex) but he manages to set the roots of what will become his very own style later on. Strung out on heroin at the time of recording, he only managed to find the strength to finish the lyrics with the help of Slovak, also addicted at the time. However, the extremely poetic “Special Secret Song Inside”, the punk influenced “No Chump Love Sucker” or the single of the album, “Fight Like A Brave” still lets us appreciate the vocalist humor and sense of irony.
One thing is also undeniable about TUMPP: it transpires California and more specifically the LA of the eighties. You can feel the sun on your skin when listening to “Behind the Sun” and hear the wind on the palm trees, but be aware that you may end up in a Skid Row street while following Kiedis on a drug run. You can visualize the blue sky and the skaters on Venice Beach but also the dirt of the streets of Downtown. Before becoming a mainstream sensation and being liked by your mum and little sister, the Chili Peppers were a bunch of Hollywood junkies with a sense of musical integrity (and a strong inclination to party and groupies) and this shows on this record.
Unfortunately the last album to feature both Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons, it represents what the Peppers should have been from the get-go instead of getting lost on their first record and releasing a messy and uneven second effort. Kiedis and Flea went on to greater success the following years (still with a fair share of ups and downs) but this is what the real Red Hot were. A mixed bag of influences and styles resulting in solid kick ass songs. No BS, just pure adrenaline. If you are tired of constantly hearing the mainstream “Californication”, “Zephyr Song”, the unbearable “Snow” and other post BSSM crap, rush to the nearest vinyl dealer to get this unfairly forgotten diamond.
High points: Fight Like A Brave, Funky Crime, Backwoods, Behind The Sun and No Chump Love Sucker.