Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Christopher Milk - EP

Please welcome back Collin with this fine review. Please note that the views and opinions represented by this review should NOT be mistaken for those of the owner and operators of this blog…

Christopher Milk –EP – UA SP -66 (1971 US)

I think by-far the best description I’ve ever read of this marginal piece of fluff was the GEMM listing that convinced me to buy it in the first place:

'Rock scribe (John Mendelsohn) wants to be a rock star - insider joke band makes nice early glam, pre-punk sound'.

For those not in the also-ran know, John Mendelsohn was perhaps the ultimate early 70’s Anglophile (Muswell top-ranking!). All pop, no style, John’s strictly roots journey to superstar writer-DUMB began with a notable stint beating-skins with the embryonic Halfnelson (soon to become Sparks) before graduating to out-and-out skin-(flute)-suckling with his own hype L.A. fashion band, Christopher Milk (whom he promoted ceaselessly in nearly every record review he scribed). Brendan Mullen tried to pass them off as ‘proto-punk’ in the pages of his poor-poor-very-poor, We’ve Got The Neutron Bomb, which, like most everything else contained in said narrative, failed to hold enough water to drown a newborn kitten or enough substance to fill a pot-hole. Not even known good-guy Gregory Shaw had much positive to say about ‘em (even though he did allow Mendelsohn liberty in 1977 to turn in a truly horrific EP as The Pits which was so embarrassing most BOMP discographies today will not even acknowledge its existence or shouldn’t anyway!). So…on the threshold of such a dreamy ‘n’ positive introduction, what – really – are we left with?

Well, the Warners album Some People Will Drink Anything may suck righteously, but the United Artists EP (that’s EXTENDED PLAYER) that preceded it is as alright with me as Jesus is/was with the Doobies! Over-bearing and not wholly successful attempt at reconciling the style/sound of Arthur/Village Green-era Kinks with the sardonic sartorialness of the Bros. Mael, Mendelsohn and Milk here unveil four fun-fun-fun laugh-fests that I can see appealing to fans of everyone from the Bonzo Dog Band to The Who. Semi-ridiculous lyric themes - There's A Broken Heart For Every Rock And Roll Star On Laurel Canyon Boulevard, To You He's Just A Cop, But To Me He's Mr. Right, nice grumbling bass sound, EXTREMELY UNDERPRIVILEGED orphan-pledge-drive vocal range, a price tag of zero dollars (free to anyone back then through the pages of Phonograph Record Magazine) – yup, all things bright and beautiful, Christopher Milk had them all. …then I guess they forgot the basic difference between tragedy and comedy is measured in equal parts sympathy and fear. And while I may fear for Mendelsohn’s ego following Christopher Milk’s inevitable curdling expiration , sympathy I have none. Too bad too. Everybody loses! You, me and even Mike Saunders, who had his own reasons for wanting to see Mendelsohn make it:

“And just think: if C. Milk become stars, maybe Mendelsohn will quit writing. Now that’d be something to look forward to!”

Pick To Click: ‘Hey, Heavyweight!

Click below for the 3 minute mono edit of Hey, Heavyweight!


Anonymous said...

I actually have this album. I am not sure where I saw the band or why I bought it. Periodically I drag it out and listen to see if I missed something. I don't think I did. How many albums were sold? How many still exist?

Robert Cook said...

I bought the album when it came out in 1972 and I've always loved it and still do. It's a precious bit of pop/rock that partook of none of the egregious blooze-boogie-isms that so saturated the prepunk 70s. It was one of the first albums I digitized and transferred to cd and to my iPod when I obtained software that would allow me to transfer my vinyl records to digital files.

If you can find this album, BUY IT! Don't listen to anyone who tells you it sucks.

Anonymous said...

C. Milk was an amazing live act (their set usually opened with a fabulous muscular version of The Move's Hello Suzie), but only the snottiness made it to the album. I agree, the EP is far superior. Their last single, a cover of Terry Reid's Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace, is also worth finding.

I had the dubious honor of reviewing The Pits for Phonograph Record Magazine, though I was later told that Mr. Mendelsohn himself revised the review before publication. Not good. On the other hand, Christopher Milk's reunion show roundabout 1977 was mighty fine.

Glenn said...

The album is an excellent slice of early American glam and the EP is pretty dodgy but still well worth it - why do this band STILL get so much flack? :(

Anonymous said...

So far, the most info on this group comes courtesy of the band members themselves. If you're on Facebook, go to the Christopher Milk Fan Club thereupon, converse or spar with the actual band and assorted bigtime representatives of the rock press, then and now. 100's of photos, too.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of uploading the whole EP for download purposes? I am unable to find the EP or the LP, and would love to hear both! Thanks and keep up the great work!

Robin Wills said...

There's a cheap copy on Musicstack.com....best to get the real thing!

Anonymous said...

I got the Christopher Milk album the week it came out in 72 and still love it, but I only recently found out about Chainsaw and can;t figure out how this great band flew under my rader. Are there any videos of Chainsaw anywhere? krankiekat@aol.com

Fast Film said...

krankiekat, I'm going to forward your contact info to Mr. Twister himself (Mr. Fastfilm of blogger here.) Perhaps he can duplicate the Chainsaw Reunion European Tour (2003) footage to you. There is also some 2004 reunion footage.

Chainsaw (reunion, Euro) lineup featured singer Mr. Twister, guitarist the Donald, both original members, the now grown son of the Donald as second guitar, Olivier Vuille (the broadcast voice of Switzerland) on bass and a great Euro drummer the Euro record company found for the tour. Chainsaw (reunion USA) featured the first three plus none other than Mary and Tone-dog, the rhythm section of punk legends The Dogs on board, a terrific choice since the first Chainsaw bassist was female as well.

These two bits are ALL the video that exists of Chainsaw. The band was never filmed other than still photography in its '70's heyday. However, you can get the cd (or 12"LP) "We Are Not Very Nice" that resurrected the Chainsaw original recordings online pretty easily.

John Mendelssohn said...

Hi, everybody! I'm flattered to be remembered. Please note that I continue to make music. I have four new songs in the works even as we speak. Here's one from my 2009 album Sorry We're Open: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCW_xm6JOdk. I'd enjoy hearing what youse think. johnmendelssohn@gmail.com.

neverhundredoclock said...

Wow hey John ! Just picked up the album
Today ! What a score of a find. I absolutely love it ! Xoxox April - Austin Texa