The Dead Milkmen

Tart and Tinies
*special introductory paragraph!
*Big Lizard In My Back Yard
*Eat Your Paisley!
*Bucky Fellini
*Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance To Anything) ep
*Smokin' Banana Peels
*Metaphysical Graffiti
*Soul Rotation
*If I Had A Gun EP
*Now We Are Ten
*Not Richard, But Dick
*Chaos Rules - Live At The Trocadero
*Stoney's Extra Stout (Pig)
*Now We Are 20
*The King in Yellow
The Dead Milkmen got a bad rap for most of their career because of their often silly and trying-too-hard-to-be-funny lyrics, but their music is unbelievably catchy and when they were funny, they were EXTREMELY funny. That's why I love 'em so and defend them against the ranks who cruelly refer to them as "the stupid man's They Might Be Giants." They consistently churned out record after record of wonderfully infectious scruffy upbeat pop/punk/rock for ten years, then they broke up, then the bass player committed suicide because I didn't call him back. :7(

Big Lizard In My Back Yard - Fever 1985.
Rating = 9

Four really short skinny guys with goofy fake names (Rodney Anonymous, Joe Jack Talcum, Dave Blood, Dean Clean) come tootin' outta Philadelphia with an amazingly well-produced, crisp, clear, vibrant, alive amateurish pile of ridiculous juvenile goodness. Jokes about death, AIDS, retards, drugs, sex, rednecks, and Charles Nelson Reilly are splayed all over the nineteen songs contained within (only five of them are over two minutes long), and the music is, quite frankly, "the stupid man's Wire." Very reminiscent of Pink Flag in both tone and execution, but not for stylistic reasons; they just don't really know much about their instruments so, rather than attempting to get all fancy with notes and look like fools, they stick to what they know - simple bass lines and bar chords (both major and minor!). And somehow it sounds wonderful!

A few of the melodies are kinda 'eh,' I suppose, but most of them ring true and alive thanks to a very creative bass player with a good brain for melody. The guitarist can write 'em catchy, too - I didn't mean to slouch him. I'm just saying, you know, listen to "Beach Song," "Swordfish," or "Serrated Edge" and then try to tell me you have any idea what the guitar line was. They're bass songs and nothing but! Enough about that, though. There are all sorts of catchy ones here, from the punky ("Tiny Town," "Nutrition," "Junkie") to the poppy ("Big Lizard," "Filet Of Sole," "Dean's Dream") to the pseudo-funky ("Right Wing Pigeons," "Lucky," "Swordfish"). And if you happen to dislike one of the songs, don't worry; it'll end soon. The vocals are young and stuffed-nosey with some very entertaining back-up vocals popping in every now and again to give you a sense of melodic urgency where before you just wondered why they gave this snot-nosed dork the mic in the first place. And yes, Rodney can't sing very well, but he's got a great voice for an entertainer. Even at this young age, he already sounds like he's willing to be your best friend, share his Cheetos with you, and tell you fart jokes all day.

And did you know this? This was actually a fairly popular college album back in the day, thanks to the bebop/hardcore classic "Bitchin' Camaro." It's not terribly funny, but you know college kids.

So what do I, Mark Prindle, find funny on this one? Lots of the back-up vocals (especially in "Plum Dumb" and "Laundromat Song") are good fun, and there are tons of good verses spread around the record, my faves being "Take off your clothes / Don't be lonely / The sign above says 'For Negroes Only'," "My best friend is a junkie / Sad but true / My best friend is a junkie / What's your best friend do?," and, of course, the rousing chorus, "I got nowhere to go / 'Cept to hang out on the street / My folks say I got no ambition.... / At least I give a shit / about the stuff I eat / Yeah, I care about nutrition!!!!" Funny? You? I don't know. I enjoy them. There are some other good lines, too. The only terribly embarrassing one is "Rastabilly," which just isn't funny at all. Not even catchy. Just dumb. Short, though! Bad paragraph. Too herky-jerky.

Basically, this is just an exceptionally enjoyable record. Not brilliant; just fun! They got better musically over the years, but there was no way that they could ever hope to recapture the raw youthful wise-assed energy that drove them to create this batch of foolish, mindless two-chord wonders way back in the long, hot autumn of '85.

Reader Comments (Mark Shaffer)
I agree that despite little talent this album turned out pretty well. "Bitchin' Camaro" is one of the best songs Dead Milkmen ever did and is truly an excellent example of their music at that time. I would definitely recommend this album for anybody who likes some good music and a couple laughs. (Jon Howard)
The Dead Milkmen are "the stupid man's WIRE?"
Wire are the stupid mans favorite band.
You are the stupid mans best friend.
Where do you get Wire outta the Milkmen.
The stupid mans They Might Be Giants?
Maybe slightly less witty, but who isnt?
Probably (Thomas Rickert)
Well, maybe, just cheetoes maloney maybe, Jon Howard is the stupid man's stupid man.
One of the few albums I can listen to from start to finish.. Just perfect.. (Roland Fratzl)
A theory on the downfall of the milk man trade: Ever wonder what happened to that noble profession, commonplace in grey flannel suit wearing, white picket fenced, leave it to beaver (mmmm, beaver) conservative 50's America? Note that the openings of those old milk bottles had roughly the same cirCUMference as the average cock. Jizz is a milky substance...
Not a bad review but a little inconsistent in my opinion. Sometimes I find it’s better not to think too much about something that isn’t intended to be serious in the first place. I saw the Dead Milkmen back in the day of Big Lizard at a small venue called Mickey Kelly’s East in Bethlehem, PA and seeing them live back them truly captures what they were all about. Young kids (Joe Jack looked like he was pert near 16 years old) having fun on stage. Rodney certainly new how to work a crowd at a very young age.

I like your comment on the “stupid man’s They Might Be Giants” mostly because I am a stupid man who has just about everything the DMM and TMBG ever produced. I guess that makes me the smart ass stupid man who knows kick ass music! Both are great in my opinion. I only wish the Milkmen were still around to enjoy.

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Eat Your Paisley! - Fever 1986.
Rating = 8

You can tell right from the beginning of track one that they've been practicing. The guitarist is playing notes! What's up with that? Notes???? What is this??? Who are we???? Are we at Woodstock??? Are we at a Grateful Dead concert listening to a fifteen-year rendition of "Truckin'???" Hell no!!! We're at home in America, the self-acknowledged "greatest mother-fucking nation on the whole goddamned planet"!!!! Now then, let's discuss a record album.

On the sunny side of the street, their melodic sense is just as strong as on the last one - actually, probably MORE so, as displayed in absolutely beautiful little wonders like "Happy Is," "I Hear Your Name" (Rodney's favorite Milkmen song of all time, last time I checked), "Six Days," and "Take Me Apart." They're also trying new things like instrumentals, longer songs, and psychedelic drug tunes. And they're pretty good at all of 'em, really; that's what practicing'll do for you!

On the shadier, thug-infested side of the street, the humor is disturbingly unfunny. Airplane wrecks are funny? An earwig eating through somebody's brain is funny? Butthole Surfers rip-offs are funny? Bleah. There are also far too many attempts to be cutting edge and hip by making a joke out of death, almost as if none of the band members are old enough to quite understand the pain of real loss. The only thing that saves 'em is not trying to be funny on half of the songs (and, of course, the stellar melodies that are littered like fruit-flavored cigarette butts all over the record). Irritatingly, the two most popular songs on here are the worst; "Beach Party Vietnam" and "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies" are neither humorous nor catchy. They're just stupid and boring. No wonder the Dead Milkmen got such a bad reputation so quickly. Bleah. If you know what I mean by "bleah."

Too bad "I Hear Your Name" never caught on. It's simple, sad, obsessive.... Sigh.

Reader Comments
Most DM fans I've talked to at shows list this one as their favorite. It's kind of a "Sleeper" album that sticks to you after a few listens. I find that it's the one I go back to the most. "Two Feet Off the Ground" is classic and SHOULD have been on their lopsided greatest hits CD.

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Bucky Fellini - Fever 1987.
Rating = 9

Much more mature production and playing bring the Milkmen into the world of grown-up music. Thankfully, it doesn't have any of the dumbass bad jokes or weak melodies that marred the last one a bit - just loads of catchy hooks with the occasional wacky comment. The closest to a hit was the bitter, on-the-windbag condemnation of black-clad arty youth, "Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance To Anything)," featuring such sarcastic lines as "Don't try to tell me that you're an intellectual / You're just another boring bisexual!" set to a moronically simple (but groovy!) electronic beat. Being a departure, it might be the most interesting song on the record. And it's funny, too! Like Johnny Carson in his heyday, I'm told by old people!

The rest is standard Milkmen fare, though perhaps an itsy bitsy spider more obsessed with the idea of culturelessness as bliss. The best example of this (aside from Rodney's cries of "NO ART! NO ART!" following a goofy little pretentious poem in the middle of "Blood Orgy Of The Atomic Fern") is "City Of Mud," in which Mr. Anonymous describes a town full of junk food-eating, non-working, TV-obsessed slobs before happily announcing "I've finally found a city full of people just like me!" Elsewhere, you got "Going To Graceland," which doesn't seem nearly as witty the second time you hear it (except for the line "Gonna see the bucket that Elvis Presley kicked," which never fails to crack up my ass), a funny Stones imitation called "Jellyfish Heaven," and a tender love ballad dedicated to "Nitro Burning Funny Cars," of all silly things.

As a whole, they try less for humor and more for simple light-hearted post-college cartoon rock, which they're much more adept at. Adept. Dumbass word. Bucky Fellini is a good'un - cute, catchy, fun.... Not a whole lot of emotion involved, but it's a damn good collection of melodies (except for the lightly funky "I Am The Walrus," which doesn't deserve its title) and, most importantly, it's very consistent. You don't have to wade through piles of medical waste to get to the good stuff. With the possible exception of aforementioned walrus ditty, it's all good stuff. B-52s? Dad?

Reader Comments
This album sounds like it was a lot of fun to make. It's a blast to listen to and contains some lesser known Milkmen classics like, "The Pit, Take Me to the Specialist, and The Badger Song." On their later efforts, the "fun" sounds forced. Not so on this one.. (Pete Chiodop)
Hey, I was just browsing in the Dead Milkmen section and I decided to add some insight. The "poem" Rodney recites in Blood Orgy of the Atomic Fern is actually a verse of the Hungarian torch song "Gloomy Sunday" The song is unofficially known as the Hungarian suicide song. The composer killed himself, and supposedly a startling number of folks how hear the song actually take their own lives sometime afterward, like clutching the lyrics sheet or with the album spinning on the phono. Creepy, eh?

LW, The Right Wing Liberal
Once again, Mr. Prindle, I see myself putting pen to paper.

Bucky Fellini is a clever play on Buckminster Fuller and that guy that they made a REALLY, REALLY pile of crappadoodledo horrible musical after.

That's all I have to say.

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Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance To Anything) EP - Restless 1987.
Rating = 7

More of a single than an EP, but you vinyl freakers get two great instrumentals previously available only on CD, you dance freakers get two dull "remixes" of the hilarious title track, and all you special people out there in the world get to hear, for the first time ever, the beautiful, obnoxious "Ask Me To Dance," about a lonely little girl with one leg. I bought it. Shouldn't that be reason enough for you to take the big dipper?

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* Beelzebubba - Fever 1988. *
Rating = 10

The winner. Extremely infectious and honestly pretty darn funny, too. Plus, it's a smorgasbord of delectable entrees, tasty licks, and month-old skim milk! There's a James Brown parody about beating your wife, a trailer park rant linking bad soil to gay martians, a punk polka that in the space of one minute escalates from an anti-frat boy ditty to an anti-mankind diatribe, a rollicking celebration on the joys of attending a lousy party, a jolly skipperoo about guzzling bleach, a proud anthem of human odor, and ELEVEN other songs, too! It even got the shorties on MTV finally, with its upbeat pre-Nirvana pop smash "Punk Rock Girl" and (to a much lesser extent) "Smokin' Banana Peels," a hippie joke about sixty jillion times more subtle and entertaining than "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies."

They're older, they're wiser (though still awfully silly), and they're even beginning to understand that death isn't just a cheap joke to be exploited in offensive (though catchy!) tripedreck like "Earwig" and "Air Crash Museum." - see "Life Is Shit" for the ultimate in disillusionment. Or is it just "disillusion?" Whatever it is, I gotta tell ya that I love this album. Unfortunately, near the end, there's a few that don't really stand out ("Ringo Buys A Rifle?" What's that all about?), but the rest is top-of-the-line entertainment for young strident fifteen-year-olds. Rodney's voice is getting gruffer by the day, and every time Joe Jack sings, he adopts more and more of a fake British accent, which I find awfully entertaining for the same reason that I find it irritating when that guy in Green Day does the same thing. You see, one of these two American bands is JOKING when they pretend to be "Limeys." Nothin' against "Limeys," of course. Some even believe that The Beatles were from England.

This record is funny, dumb, and catchy as a fish. Fast, too! They play real fast, undistorted pop rock. And yeah, all those guest musicians (fiddles, strings, accordion) were probably just a cynical attempt to cash in on the Camper Van Beethoven "college band" phenomenon, but when the product is this exceptional, who gives a crap about motivation? Probably some asshole, that's who.

Reader Comments (Moko)
I agree with you totally!!!! This album is the best, it kicks butt!! Nothin' beats "SMOKIN' BANNANA PEELS" and "STUART"!!!!!!!!! The DEAD MILKMEN LIVE FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Thomas Rickert)
The cover is just fuckin' great. I always suspected the devil was a tractor-ridin', stained-overalls-wearin', fat-pig redneck. Or maybe its just that that is my idea of hell anyway!? (Professor GKayos)
i cant say this is the dead milkmens best but some of their finest moments.also,they guy on the front is the devil,its Rodneys dad. (Lydia Crowe)
Are you nuts? 'Ringo Buys A Rifle' is one of my all-time favorite DM songs! (Jones)
Ringo buys a rifle is a joke about Ringo Starr buying a gun and shooting Paul McCartney. In the song they say "Hey Paul, you a**hole!, duck this!
it´s Dub this not duck this. anyway how can you say bad things ´bout Dead Milkmens they´re the greatest band ever
I never liked "Punk Rock Girl." I always thought with that song they were leaning too far into "Weird Al Yankovic" territory.. "Bad Party" is also a throwaway.. I think this is my least favorite DM album, sorry.. Lost their punk edge on this one.. (Keith Turausky)
Am I the only one who is *severely* bothered by the part in "Punk Rock Girl" where he attributes "California Dreamin'" to the Beach Boys?

Try as I might, I simply can't read that as an attempt to mock young punk rockers' lack of a proper grounding in rock-n-roll history (a commentary that would be significantly strengthened by the ironic fact that the "square" Beach Boys were in fact a major influence on the Ramones, without whom there would of course not be punk as we know it). Nor can I see it as some sort of twisted forboding reference to the anti-punk-rock of Wilson-Phillips.

No, I'm afraid the Milkmen are just stupid. And not in a good way.

(a week later)

Okay, okay, so Prindle schooled me on my Beach Boys history, and it turns out they actually COVERED "California Dreamin'" (and made a video for it) in 1986, not too long before "Punk Rock Girl" was recorded. Needless to say, this is not the version of "California Dreamin'" with which most people are familiar. So I still feel there is room for confusion, especially among younger folk, and am glad I got this topic out in the open.

Meanwhile, I'm grappling with the reality that the Beach Boys covering "California Dreamin'" is actually a far worse sin against rock-n-roll than the Dead Milkmen misattributing it to them could ever have been... (Andrew McQuillan)
Talk to me about Elvis!!!!!!
While I was in college, not two years ago, living in the dorms, a guy from down the hall nearly knocked my door from off its hinges, screaming about the Milkmen. I was listening to the "Big Lizard" album at the time.
Me: ...the hell?
Guy: Dead Milkmen, dog! Dead Milkmen! Right on!
Me: I'm surprised someone else around here has even heard of them.
Guy: I'm a surfer, dog! Of course I've heard of them!

I wondered how a band that repeatedly insults surfers, their lifestyle and their music (Surfin' Cow, Beach Song, Beach Party Vietnam, Bleach Boys) can be held on high by them. In my opinion, the transgressions against the Beach Boys in Punk Rock Girl may be forgiven by us, the inlanders, if they can be forgiven and even exaulted by those who are not land-bound. Also, on the influence of the Beach Boys on punk rock and stupid punkers: this song is intended as a dig against the posers that frequented a poppy-punk record store called "Zipperhead." The girl in the song's title is one of the rich-kid pseudo-punks that the Milkmen would probably make fun of regularly, who do not care about the history of punk or what it stands for. For more information on these kids in modern society, go to a ska show and count how many Gwen Stefani's there are. Take this song as you would "Tiny Town:" from the perspective of someone who has no clue.
"r.c.'s mom" is not as you suggested a James Brown sendup, but a parody of the R.C. Mob (who themselves were a JB sendup). Go steal a copy of "Omerta", if you don't like it, at least you got your money's worth.

also some fool comments that he's irritated by the song "california dreaming" is wrongly attributed to the beach boys. That guy is a moron. that's what makes the song funny. funny ha-ha, I mean. (Tiago Carvalho)
Hi, I'm writing from Portugal. I first heard DM with Bucky Fellini, then my cousin brought me the cassete Big Lizard from the U.S. I saw their adress, wrote them, and Joe Genaro sent me all their records ever since!

The DM were extremely funny, even though I didn't catch half of the lyrics. Even the titles of the songs were funny! They were also very cleaver with words. For example, "Sometimes I smell, just like bathroom, after grandma used it, and she's been eating fruit" (My many Smells). I can't think of any other way to express a stronger olfactive impression!!...

thank you Mark for your site, it has given me a lot of good memories. (Jose Carvalho)
Hi, I'm writing from Portugal. I first heard DM with Bucky Fellini, then my cousin brought me the cassete Big Lizard from the U.S. I saw their adress, wrote them, and Joe Genaro sent me all their records ever since!

The DM were extremely funny, even though I didn't catch half of the lyrics. Even the titles of the songs were funny! They were also very cleaver with words. For example, "Sometimes I smell, just like bathroom, after grandma used it, and she's been eating fruit" (My many Smells). I can't think of any other way to express a stronger olfactive impression!!... thank you Mark for your site, it has given me a lot of good memories. (R. Crait)
It's funny, I always thought they were saying "...after grandma's used it, and she'd been eating prunes." Anyway, really cool band. I was hoping they would send me some stuff but they never wrote back.
Hey Everybody....Look at me!...Look at me!....(Pow he was decapitated!!!) They found his head over by the snow-cone concession....A few days after that I opened up the mail, and there was a pamphlet it there from Pueblo Colorado it was Addressed to Bill Jr. and its entitled---Do You Know What the Queers are Doing to Our Soil?

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Smokin' Banana Peels - Fever 1989.
Rating = 6

For some reason, they thought it would be a good idea to have Was/Not Was do a bunch of boring dance remixes of "Smokin' Banana Peels." It wasn't. Side two's good, though; it's a re-recording of five songs from their extinct demo tape, Death Rides A Pale Cow. They're gross, childish, morbid, idiotic, and you know? Awfully CATCHY!!! Could someone please find me a synonym???? Cereally, it's just awfully entertaining to hear bouncy happy music that makes you tap your foot and snap your ring finger until you suddenly realize that you're listening to "I Hate Myself" - or, better yet, "Death's Alright With Me." Yeah, I know I criticized them earlier for joking about death too much, but this is a suicide song, and that's a different matter altogether. And "The Puking Song" - oh, that's a cute one....

Reader Comments (Albert E. Short)
There is subtle parody in the "Puking Song" in that the endless repetiton of "I just throw up on my sheets" at the end is a deserved slam at "Hey,Jude". Nearly as subtle as Joe plucking out octaves at the end of the "awful guitar solo" on Punk Rock Girl, perhaps an undeserved slam at Wes Montgomery.

Only ther Milkmen can put subtle parody in something called the Puking Song.

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Metaphysical Graffiti- Enigma 1990.
Rating = 8

More of the same, but a few experiments go a little awry - "Beige Sunshine" starts the record off with a hilarious children's chorus, but then it turns into kind of a dumb hard rock song (not a good genre for the Milkfellows, or anybody really, with the possible exception of Bloodrock, whom you've probably never heard of), then later, Joe Jack confuses slapstick for social critique in the rotten ballad "Dollar Signs In Her Eyes." Even the Gibby Haynes-enhanced Yes-putdown "Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes And How!" is pretty friggin' weak for a Butthole Surfers rip-off.

However, the songs that sound like the band as we've grown to love 'em (i.e. every other song on the record) are just as cheer-inducing as you could expect from a band that lives to make you smile. "If You Love Somebody, Set Them On Fire?" "In Praise Of Sha Na Na?" "Methodist Coloring Book?" Learn 'em. Live 'em. Love 'em. Shave 'em and ram 'em up my ass! Joe Jack is gruffing up his voice to avoid the "sissy" stereotype he was earning with that faux (rhymes with "ho") British accent, and most of the lyrics are pretty clever in addition as well too also. Even the ska material is spiffy - especially the wondermous "Little Man In My Head."

And the funniest bit on the whole album - heck, maybe the funniest bit of their entire career - is accessible only to diehard Zeppelin fans. No one else will get it, or even realize that it's there. But it is. Right there at the beginning of "Methodist Coloring Book." Aww man. I laughed for weeks. It's short. It's stupid. It's vague. But ahhh man, they do it so well.

Reader Comments (Thomas Rickert)
Have you ever noticed how Zeppelin is like, the ultimate band to make fun of? The jokes are always funny when its about zep, and rarely when its about anybody else. I mean, think of jokes about the Stones or the Beatles? Dud. Not funny. Crawl off and die. But Zep! Zep. One instantly laughs. Wonder why that is... Anyway. The cover, like the cover of Beelzebubba, is just great. A toy brownstone!!!! Whoda thunk it?! Not me. Not you. 'Twas those brainy zany milkboys!! (Andrew McQuillan)
I thought Gibby Haynes was actually on that last song. Didn't he do the lyrics or something? I know I saw his name in the credits.

And yeah, before I had even heard this album, I'd see the picture of the album cover on different sites and laugh my ass off.

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Soul Rotation - Hollywood 1992.
Rating = 8

After one of the Metaphysical Graffiti tour shows, I had myself a little chit-chat with Mr. Anonymous (or should I say "H.P. Hovercraft"), and he told me that on the upcoming album (tentatively entitled In The Court Of The Crimson Milkman), he would be playing more keyboards, singing fewer songs, and ensuring that most of the lyrics revolved around UFOs.

Silly me, I thought he was kidding. No sir. He sings lead on three of these thirteen songs; Joe Jack (or "Butterfly Fairweather") does the rest...which is fine, especially since these songs aren't supposed to be funny. They're beautiful little pop gems (except for the crappy ones - "Big Scary Place" and "Silly Dreams," for example) with one foot in Martianville and the other hand takin' a ride on the Paranoia Express. Lots of keyboards, but not crap. Just nuance, essence, and verve to complement the lovely guitar strumming. Lovely. That's an accurate description. Not funny, no, but "How It's Gonna Be" is an awfully amusing sixties soul shot about how life is just a big smelly piece of Tom Snyder. So there's your humor, Mr. Picky!

In closing, let me say that this is the prettiest collection of melodies that The Dead Milkmen have ever done (well, about five of them are pretty - the rest are just....uhh....CATCHY, as it were).

Reader Comments
This album would have worked better if it had been done acoustic. The songs are kind of REM like. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a compliment..
Okay, it looks like I'm gonna have to be the brave one (representing untold numbers) to say that this album completely sucked and is definitely THE one that completely rammed their career STRAIGHT into the ground. I know it, you know it, and most of all, the Dead Milkmen know it. Hey, maybe it was just their time. Shit! They already provided us with years of.....well........who really wants to call it anything anyways?

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If I Had A Gun EP - Hollywood 1992.
Rating = 8

Studio version of the title track, nice live versions of two other Soul Rotation tracks, plus a really great surf-pop instrumental called "Dolce" and a live version of "Bitchin' Camaro" that is preceded by a story about death that only Rodney Anonymous could find hilarious. That's my review and I won't have you demeaning it. If you have anything to say, keep it to yourself. Rich, please don't include an "Add Your Comments?" link after this review. This is my finest work to date and I will not stand for any criticism of it.

Don't add your thoughts!

Now We Are Ten - Fan Club 1993.
Rating = 8

Aaaah, the Dead Milkmen.

Milkmen? NO!

Dead? YES!

Aaaah, the Dead Milkmen.

Which reminds me of a fantastic way to make people happy. If a female person you know (friend, sister, mother, teacher) tells you that she is going to hang out with another female person (her sister, friend, grandmother, etc), as they're leaving together, be sure and shout out the door, "HAVE A LESBO-RIFFIC TIME!" Ha hahha! HEEEEE YEAaaahah i don't see much action.

It's not my fault all girls are fags and my dick's so big it throws 'em across the room.

Aaaah, the Dead Milkmen. This was apparently a CD issued to the band's fan club in 1993 to celebrate their decade-old anniversary. It is composed of four songs from their 1983 cassette Funky Barn, three from the infamous Death Rides A Pale Cow demo from '84, then a whole bunch of songs that comprise a live 1984 radio concert called Dead Milkmen Take The Airwaves, a live version of the compilation track "Stupid Mary Anne" from '87, a throwaway live '92 "Surfin' Cow" and finally a cover of The Yardbirds' "Shapes Of Things" (NOT "Nothing Can Change The Shape Of Things To Come" - GOD, i hate that song with every vein in my eye!) recorded in Joe Jack Talcum's basement in 1993.

Essentially the appeal here is the rare tracks and early versions of songs that would end up on Big Lizard. (It sure isn't the stage patter - holy cinnamon rolly is Rodney Anonymous an unfunny human being). The rare tracks are a great intrigue-laden attack on Jerry Lewis called "Labor Day" that was probably left off the album for fear of lawsuits ("he'd be broke if it weren't for his disease!"? Yikes!), a silly short BAD throwaway called "Don't Abort That Baby," a cool percussion-mouthnoise-and-harmonica-laden instrumental entitled "Land Of The Shakers," an upbeat simple-but-nice Ramones tribute referred to as "I Don't Wanna," a fast number with a GREAT bass line that should have for DAMN sure been on one of their albums (called "Dance With Me," like TSOL might name an album) and an honestly TUNELESS Meatmen reference entitled "Milkmen Stomp." And I do mean TUNELESS. As in, they wrote no music for the song and just beat on their instruments like a bunch of college kids who think they're getting away with free jazz but aren't. HA! I CAUGHT YOU BLOODY-HANDED, BAND!

As for early versions, "Bitchin' Camaro" is slower than you're used to, but it leaves Dean Clean room to really kick out the jam with some AWESOME fills, "Takin' Retards To The Zoo" features a cutesy "oh-oh-oh!" refrain instead of the tard "whooooa!" that you've heard all these many many years gone by, "I Hate Myself" is destroyed by vocals shouted at the PERFECTLY wrong note to ruin the rest of the song (guess the band felt the same because they ended it a verse early without warning Rod!)

(Stewart, that is).

"VFW" becomes "Censored World" for radio play and I'm done. As the Rodman (Dennis) says at the end of the live show, "If we've offended you, take a hike."

I thought it was nice of him to promote the appreciation of a nature tour like that. So many of our young rock and roll bands today preach nihilism and disdain for all that is Christian and good. Like buttfucking with three dicks crammed up there at the same time.

Oh hell, did I say "CHRISTIAN and good"? I of course meant "FISTING and good."

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Not Richard, But Dick - Hollywood 1993.
Rating = 8

The emphasis here is on psychiatric problems. Joe Jack is paranoid, depressed, schizophrenic, but "Not Crazy!" And Rodney sings half of 'em, which is nice, although two of them ("I Dream Of Jesus" and "Let's Get The Baby High") are the worst pieces of pseudo-humor horsewhisker since "Beach Party Vietnam." CATCHY, THOUGH!!! All catchy and no catchy makes Joe Jack a catchy catcher!!!! Ketchup. Catnip. Carpnipples. The album's too short, though. It's only like 28 minutes long.

Reader Comments
Good luck finding this one. It vanished from sight the year after it was released.

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Chaos Rules - Live At The Trocadero - Restless 1994.
Rating = 8

I saw the old Milkmen about five times when they were around, and enjoyed the living daylights out of them nearly every time (until the final show I attended, where I was too focused on the strange phenomenon of the steadily-youngening Dead Milkmen fanbase to enjoy the cool tunes they were playing). See, they're all really short and Rodney has the sense of humor of a 15-year-old. So kids just gots to laugh at his stupid one-liners! It's not as funny if you're older (in fact, at times he often just sounds awfully dumb), but that doesn't change the fact that these songs are catchier than hell! There's also a remarkable emphasis on Big Lizard tunes, so fans of the early stuff can sing along while learning how darn good their later stuff is too. There's only one problem -- the bass is poorly-recorded throughout. And, what with the bass being a really key component of their sound, the songs suffer. As such, this isn't a terribly good way to introduce a prospective fan to the band. Still, if you KNOW the tunes, you'll love the energy, humor and verve with which they play them in a live setting. Plus, although Soul Rotation and Not Richard tunes had to be left of the CD because Hollywood owned them, the DMs still had the ballnuts to sneak an unlisted "If I Had A Gun" onto the very end! Ha! Ha for you AND America!

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Stoney's Extra Stout (Pig) - Restless 1995.
Rating = 8

I gotta be honest with you; most people hate this band. Even people who USED to like them pretty much hate them now. Something about "growing up" or "maturing" or something. But dude...this stuff is really entertaining!

The melodies here are just your basic bar chord things - very simple and minimal, almost live-sounding and lacking the input from outside musicians that made Beelzebubba and Bucky Fellini sound so full; howe'er, it still seems like an attempt to go back to the old (humorous) Milkmen style. Rodney sings (well, recites) eight of these fifteen songs, and they're all pretty clever. Although perhaps not as effortlessly hilarious as their finest work, tracks like the ridiculous spy story "Peter Bazooka," the religious query/Shaggs tribute "When I Get To Heaven," and the truly persuasive anti-work manifesto "Chaos Theory" are surprisingly thoughtful and intriguing. Others, like "Helicopter Interiors" (which sounds a whole lot more like an Eat Your Paisley! track than one from Soul Rotation or Not Richard, But Dick) and "The Girl With The Strong Arm" just don't make a whole lot of sense. But who cares? They're still toe-tappingly swell. On occasion, especially in "Don't Deny Your Inner Child," Rodney's recitations sound like little more than King Missile rip-offs, but aside from these moments, they are almost all eminently enjoyable.

And the other half? Well, Joe Jack's just gettin' wussier by the day. I love his bouncy pop ones (especially "I Can't Stay Awake" and "Big Deal"), but his adult pop love stories, "I'm Flying Away" and "Like To Be Alone," reach far too high and just don't make it at all. And then, of course, there's "Chrystalline," a lounge jazz thing sung by....hmm....Dean, maybe? Whoever sings it, it is by far the least Milkmen-esque song ever recorded (except possibly "Like To Be Alone," but let's not mention that song any more, okay?). I don't know what's been on Joe Jack's mind since Soul Rotation; maybe he just got tired of feeling like a joke? Unfortunate. He was a pretty good joke. Still, he's also a pretty good songwriter. You take some basic chords and put them in a nice order and by golly, you're a pop genius. That's all it takes. I miss The Dead Milkmen.

Reader Comments (Greg Ellis)
after the dead milkmen broke up joe the guitarist started a band called touch me zoo. their songs were dark, quiet, like soul rotation kind of, but better. they just recently broke up. rodney, the singer, is now in a bizarre celtic band called "burn witch" and i think they have a cd coming out. joe's "new" new band is "the toqn managers" who i booked a show for down here in charlotte nc a few months back. they are pop-punk in the vein of jawbreaker i would say. but yeah, the DM will one day get the recognition they deserve! ah...only in an imperfect world can such genius be misunderstood! (Mike)
Hi!! My name's Mike and I'm glad you like the Milkmen as well as I. But one thing I need to say is that : - Their songs are really or at least pretty funny. They are one of the most talented and gifted bands I've heard. (Although they couldn't play for crap during the BLIMB days), I agree with you on that. Anyways, I really like most parts of your reviews. They are really good.
how could you talk about the milkmen that way?? they are not some shitty band like tonic that you can just talk about how ever you please. these guys have attained something that's not very easy to do. they have a huge cult following. i know most people hate them, and that altogether, they didn't sell a million records, but dammit they wrote killer music. and i'm not just some sorry fan. i consider myself to be a music connoisseur, just like i am sure you consider yourself. i listen to hundreds of different bands, and dammit, the milkmen are my favorite. right there with led zeppelin, nirvana, pink floyd, 311, rage against the machine. (David)
Jesus, Mark, I can't believe you'd stoop so low as to dedicate a page to Dead Milkmen reviews. "Funny". Yeah, right... Doing a Matchbox 20 page next? (Alexander William Ross I)
Hey, I've noticed that there's a Dead Milkmen album that's absent from your record reviews page. It's called Death Rides a Pale Cow: The Ultimate Collection, and is their greatest hits album (not to be confused with their demo tape of the same name). It contains most of their classics (although Taking Retards to the Zoo is missing, sadly). The Soul Rotation and Not Richard, But Dick albums are completely unrepresented in the collection. Two previously unreleased songs have been included: Milkmen Stomp and Labor Day. If you're a casual Milkmen fan like myself, and don't want to lay out the bread for their entire catalog, it's worth picking up. (Daz Cox)
I was a major fan and promoter of the milkmen ever since I heard their first album. I saw them live right before Beelzebubba and they were cool enough to let my girlfriend and her friend in the gig for free as we didn't know it was an 21 and over gig.(me and whatever that dudes name was were 21 and left our women in the sandwich shop as we wouldn't miss seeing the milkmen for a technicality!)

Anyway, up untill Soul Rotation I bought everything they did and played everything from Nutrition and VFW to The Puking Song on my radio show (85-90 on wmuw88.5 in Columbus Mississippi).

What the hell happened? Metapysical Graphiti was so damn good, the first band I ever loved was shanana and their tribute was perfect. Soul Rotation was such a dissapointment I think I cried and I havent bought a tape until I got Death rides a pale cow. Which is ok considering the cheesy filler songs, damn i know a band isn't perfect but up to soul rotation I didn't hear one bad song! Anyway I still listen to the good stuff and remember talking to the guys after the gig, they were the kings in their day.
The boys also released a CD, "Now We are Ten" through their fan club. It contains a live radio broadcast of just about all of the songs on Big Liz. It tops their first release. Contains some rare tracks also like "Don't abort the baby" and "Land of the Shakers." (BoBo JoJo)
no way you crazy fuck - i loved the milkmen as a kid and still love the fuckers now - those mutherfuckers rocked and they still do and i cried when i heard they broke up cos maybe i'm just some loser from ireland but i'll never get to see those guys play, and that really hurts - you fuckin asshole you're an asshole don't dis the milmen so fuck yiz all - someone needs to take you to the zoo
saw the dm three times in the wasteland of the midwest- springfield, mo. changed my life

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Now We Are 20 - Restless 2003
Rating = 8

This is an official release of Now We Are Ten, complete with tons of little essays inside and an additional three tracks: "Ask Me To Dance" from the Instant Club Hit EP, an okay Mott The Hoople cover, and a less-than-okay Specials cover. Buy it!

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The King in Yellow – Self-released 2011
Rating = 8

400 years after their last album, The Dead Milkmen unexpectedly rose from the coffin of retirement, played some reunion shows with a new bass player, and recorded a whole new CD! Granted, I haven’t been all around the world listening to reunion albums hither and thither, but it’s probably rare to find one that sounds so much like its ancestral predecessors. Aside from slightly lower deliveries from Anonymous and Talcum, this album could’ve come out ten minutes after Stoney’s Extra Stout (Pig) and nobody would’ve batted a(n) (eye)ball! It has the same clean and jangly guitar tone, same simple yet unique pop hooks, same tuneless but friendly vocals, same lyrics flirting with humor, absurdity and social commentary – all that’s missing is Dave Blood. (New bassist Dan Stevens does a fine job though.)

The biggest issue surrounding a Dead Milkmen reunion album would have to be, “Can they still write an album’s worth of terrific melodies?” Well, take off your Worry Panties™, because their jangly pop hooks are as strong as ever! Plus, as always, the band “shakes it up” by venturing into related subgenres, including traditional Irish folk ballad “William Bloat,” stompy garage rocker “13th Century Boy,” vomitous jazz-pop “I Can’t Relax,” dark beatnik/art brooder “Melora Says,” snotty white funker “She’s Affected” and Big Lizard-style punk rocker “Meaningless Upbeat Happy Song.” Not all of these experiments are successful (“I Can’t Relax” is in fact the worst song ever written), but they break up the jangly pop steak into bite-sized installments so you don’t choke to death on its brilliance. The King in Yellow hearkens back to the Beelzebubba days with the occasional inclusion of non-rock instruments; flute, violin, accordion and xylophone all make appearances, in addition to the keyboards they’ve enjoyed since Soul Rotation.

They’re lyrically on the ball too, although some of the subject matter leans toward the obscure (Roman emperor Tiberius!? Cellist/vocalist Melora Creager of Rasputina!? Homeland security-targeted Atlanta activist Caitlin Childs!?). Heck, even the album title is a reference to a 19th century collection of gothic horror fiction. Why they all fancy showin’ off? Oh how I long for the simpler days of “Taking Retards to the Zoo.”

Not really. There are actually several quite relevant and thoughtful lyrical themes on this record, including:

- The selling out of musical ideals: “Country music used to be about music, not the country/There once was a time when rap was dangerous/Now flag-waving idiots and millionaire illiterates dance across the screen -- Johnny Cash died for you!”

-The dumbing down of pop culture: “I’ve seen young people wasting their time reading books about sensitive vampires. It’s kinda sad. But you say it’s not the end of the world…. Well, maybe it is!”

- Our surprising lack of social progress: “Illiterate peasants crowding in on me/I feel like an island in a filthy sea/Feels like I’m living in the 13th century”

- The proliferation of dangerous chemicals in our products: “Subtle changes to the nervous system are a small price to pay/When you consider the role in our lives that solvents play!”

- A brilliant concept for a new reality game show: “Contestant number one killed his daughter and his wife/Could not guess ‘Waste not, want not,’ so he lost his life/HANGMAN!”

- The hopelessness of optimism in a world filled with poverty: “There ain’t no guiding force behind the universe/And I think that if there was, it would only make things worse/You’ll fill out the forms and I’ll stand in line/And when it’s all over we’ll be buried in the sky”

- The hopelessness of optimism in a world filled with death: “The weathergirl on the TV/Said April showers bring May flowers/The next day our town was flooded/Hundreds died in a matter of hours”

- The hopelessness of optimism, period: “Do you suffer from depression? Well if you don’t, you probably should, because the world is an ugly violent place and the only people who can’t see that are idiots and the blind. And believe me brothers and sisters, the blind can smell how bad it is out here!”

- Rodney Anonymous’ inability to appreciate the genius of Norah Jones: “If I never get Norah Jones, there’s a good chance that I’ll die alone”

Joe Jack sings four of the 17 songs, using a voice that seems a bit more fey than before – particularly in the gay-themed “Some Young Guy.” Rodney’s voice seems a little lower and calmer than previously, but he whips up the energy when required. The only problem I hear is that a few of the more melodic songs cry out for an actual singer; Rodney does his best to put across tracks like “Passport to Depravity” and “Caitlin Childs,” but – as he’d probably be the first to admit – he’s tone deaf. He doesn’t come anywhere NEAR the right notes. Thank God he’s as charismatic a ranter as ever on the rest of the album; an all-singing Rodney would be a painful Rodney!

I insist that you visit right now and purchase this album. It is absolutely up to their old standards, at times even surpassing them. And see them live if they come near your town!

Reader Comments

Nikki Lee Heart
Very good review... I just have to disagree with you about one thing... I Can't Relax is one of the greatest songs ever written... period. From the clever/poetic verses to the catchy and energetic chorus... even the fuzzy mellow guitar solo... Great stuff and I pray that we get to see another Milkmen album.

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