The Milkshakes formed when the punk band, the Pop Rivets flitted away into the atmosphere. Pop Rivets frontman, Billy Childish hooked up with his roadie, Mickey Hampshire, and the punks dived deep into their mutual love for primitive 60's garage rock and 50's rockabilly. The Milkshakes were around for but a brief blip of time, but in that three year blip the band put out a staggering nine albums and a stack of killer singles. "Wait a minute Mr. Flip," you may ask, "how can a band put out nine albums in three years?". Good question. The answer is that they didn't spend a whole lot of time monkeying around in the studio. The albums are studies in low-fi brilliance. I think the recordings went something like this:
- Mickey: "Okay, I've got my Burns nu-sonic guitar plugged into my Vox AC30."
- Billy: "Yeah, I'm getting a little buzz out of my Hofner Club-20 guitar through my Tru-Voice 15 amp, but I don't think it matters much."
- Producer: "Microphones are on? Check. Going into the red, but we'll power through. Russ, I hear your Framus Star Bass fine. Bruce, just a couple of taps on your snare...great. Okay, we're ready.
- Mickey: "1 and a 2 and a 1-2-3-4!"
- (Milkshakes play a song for 2:41 seconds)
- Producer: "And...perfect. Okay, next song is called what?"
On a personal note, this group had a huge influence on this writer. At a time that I was running into the wall on California Hardcore and punk, I sought out something that had that aggressive edge, but, gasp, had a melody. The Milkshakes, Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, The Chesterfield Kings and a handful of other bands pointed me in a new direction. Back in 1982, I played The Milkshakes' originals-filled 14 Rhythm & Blues Greats album so much that my momma warned me that I would break it if I wasn't more gentle. Prudence be damned, I spun that record 1,000 more times before the night was out. Mickey writing and singing the more melodic and constructed numbers. Billy screaming through absolute minimalist compositions. A perfect match. There wasn't a groove left on that record before I was done.
Today's SoTW is from that flawless album. It's called Can You Tell Me? and features both Mickey and Billy wailing away and singing with what sounds like a couple of terrible head colds.
Click here to listen to The Milkshakes perform Can You Tell Me? from their 1982 album, 14 Rhythm & Beat Greats as recorded for Big Beat Records.