Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dead Milkmen: A Half-Assed Retrospective

As you make your returns of your gifts this holiday season, I'm sure there's one question on your mind:  "What Dead Milkmen album should I exchange this [insert crappy gift name] for?"


This, of course, pre-supposes that you still purchase CDs, or that you've actually given a passing thought to The Dead Milkmen since "Punk Rock Girl" or "Bitchin' Camaro."  Or that you'd want to delve into an actual album rather than a greatest hits.  Or, finally, that you'd want to take advice from someone who's not really a true fan of the band.


If the above is the case... well, then you've come to the right place!


Thanks to chance to go through a friend's riehle really cool music collection before he sells it all, I listened to the entire Dead Milkmen catalog.  They're one of those bands that I've always wanted to explore further, but felt like I'd be dropping myself into a King Missile-like hole.


Overall, I was surprised at just how good these guys play.  As musicians, they rock-solid good -- no joke there.  Their vocal talent is what fans consider "a great contrast to their music," and enemies consider "awful."  But all in all, they are a band first, and goofy lyricists second.  If you like their humor, there is nothing not to like about these guys.  If you don't, it won't work.


Not included in this review:  their 2011 reunion album, The King in Yellow, their first in 16 years.


Without further ado....


Highly Recommended

  • Bucky Fellini (1987)
  • Stoney's Extra Stout (1995)
I picked two albums that did not include either of their hits, which is odd.  Bucky Fellini is critically considered one of their three best albums; Stoney's Extra Stout was not only their last album, but considered by many to be a statement of how far the band had fallen.  I disagree, as I think it's excellent. 


Recommended
  • Big Lizard in My Backyard (1985)
This was close, but ultimately for me this was a mishmash of songs I loved (about a third) and others I hated (the rest).  Their debut album does feature "Bitchin' Camaro" and "Takin' Retards to the Zoo," but ultimately it fell short for me as a whole.
 
I Found at Least One Song
  • Eat Your Paisley (1986)
  • Beelzebubba (1988)
  • Metaphysical Graffiti (1990)
  • Chaos Rules:  Live at the Trocodero (1994)
  • Now We are 20 (2003)
Dead Milkmen fans are flinging feces at me for dropping the acclaimed Beelzebubba this far, but I really found only one song besides "Punk Rock Girl" I liked.  Metaphysical Graffiti and Now We are 20 both had multiple songs I liked; the other two had literally one song each.

I Did Not Find at Least One Song
  • Soul Rotation (1992)
  • Not Richard But Dick (1993)
The critics and I are on the same page here.  When these guys missed, they really missed.  Their two Hollywood label records are pretty terrible.

- Snilch

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