The Good: It doesn't set one's c.d. player on fire . . .
The Bad: Short, Better versions of the single exist, Singsong lyrics, Instrumentally/vocally simple
The Basics: Lyrically banal, "Taste The Pain" has a very simple theme and is not the best Red Hot Chili Peppers single; this one-track single is the worst way to get it.
In the realm of great music, the earlier works of Red Hot Chili Peppers seldom apply. For sure, there are loyal Red Hot Chili Peppers who absolutely love everything the band ever came out with, but objectively, there is a reason not every one of their songs was considered a hit song. Indeed, in the United States it would be surprising if most listeners in 1989 actually recall hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Taste The Pain" on the radio. Never their most successful single, "Taste The Pain" was released in four known forms (that I could find). Of those, the listing for the one-track single is the worst one a fan or music lover could try to hunt down.
"Taste The Pain" was a song from Red Hot Chili Peppers from their album Mother's Milk, the first full album with what I call the "recognizable quartet" of Flea, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, and Chad Smith, though Smith did not (interestingly enough) perform the drums on "Taste The Pain." In stores, "Taste The Pain" was found as a limited edition, four-track single (otherwise known as the "Unbridled Funk And Rock 4 Your Soul" EP), the 1990 c.d. single, and the 12" record single. There was also this one-track version, which appears to only have been released to d.j.s for airplay; all of the commercially available versions of "Taste The Pain" have four tracks. So, even for those who like the song "Taste The Pain," there are vastly better ways to get this single. In fact, the only reason to get this version of the single is for completists who are obsessed with getting everything they can from Red Hot Chili Peppers.
With only the one song occupying 4:28 on c.d., "Taste The Pain" is a terrible use of the c.d. medium. Given the capacity of the compact disc, c.d. singles are generally a poor overall value, but one song singles like this are especially poor uses of the medium. That said, at least "Taste The Pain" is the work of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Written by the quartet, the lead vocals are provided by Anthony Kiedis, with backing vocals by Flea and Frusicante. The members of the band play their own instruments. The song was produced by Michael Beinhorn, who is not a staple of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' team, but he does fairly well with producing this song.
Still, "Taste The Pain" is a pretty annoying Red Hot Chili Peppers track. The song features heavy backing vocals that are repetitive with a "Woah-oh-oh!" and having listened to the single on heavy repeat to write this, it wears thin pretty quickly. This is probably because while "Taste The Pain" is straightforward rock and roll, it has a singsong rhyme scheme and musical progression. The result is a very simple song that grates on the listener.
The only real sense of creativity in the song comes in Flea hanging up his bass midway through the song in order to play the trumpet. Trumpet, guitar and drums is not at all a typical rock and roll combination and Red Hot Chili Peppers deserves some credit for experimenting in that way. It gives "Taste The Pain" more of a jazzy undertone and it does make listening to the song easier. Even so, the trumpet is distracted from soon after by the lame lyrics, overbearing vocals and the production elements - in this case, a loop of Kiedis singing the refrain played backward to open the song.
As for the vocals, these are exactly what one would expect from a song by Anthony Kiedis. Kiedis sings directly to the listener in his very comfortable tenor range with no real modulation or anything that screams originality. Instead, he essentially presents the five notes up and down of "Taste The Pain" in a way that sounds like a musical nursery rhyme. He only holds one note for a few seconds to illustrate he has capacity and the song even holds up poorly in the pantheon of Red Hot Chili Pepper singles as it is not performed with speed that is impressive or stretches Kiedis's vocal range.
This leaves us with the lyrics. "Taste The Pain" has unfortunately simple lyrics which also cause it to hold up poorly over multiple listens. The song, which is about either insomnia or a bad breakup (or both), has predictable rhymes and no real sense of imagery. Kiedis sings "Busted in two / Like a brittle stick / I can not drink / Because my throat constricts / Lovesick from you / That will never do / Open my mouth / I couldn't make a sound / I could not scream / I could not shout / It out to you / Nothing to do / Walk away and taste the pain / Come again some other day" and there is no real emotional resonance to the lines because the rhymes are so easy. The sense of diction lacks any real sophistication and the result is a song that is largely unmemorable.
Fans of rock and roll or the Red Hot Chili Peppers would do better to check out one of the albums that "Taste The Pain" is on or get one of the four-track single; they offer better value as they do not have just this underwhelming song on them.
For other works by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, please check out my reviews of:
"Give It Away" (single)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik
"Soul To Squeeze" (single)
One Hot Minute
By The Way
Greatest Hits And Videos
The Best Of Red Hot Chili Peppers
For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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