Friday, December 04, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 166 - The Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard in My Backyard

By: March

Album - Big Lizard in My Backyard
Artist - The Dead Milkmen
Key Players - Dean Clean - drums and backing vocals. Joe Jack Talcum - guitar, vocals. Dave Blood - bass, backing vocals. Rodney Anonymous - Vocals.
Produced By - The Dead Milkmen and John Wicks

Release Date - 1985

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I have had this on tape since my 16th birthday. A friend of mine gave me the tape for my birthday that year..and I still have the tape. I recently updated to CD of this, but honestly it was one of the few tapes worthy to have kept the tape deck up and running for.

Overview - The punk band formed in 1983 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Considered to be a "satirical" band with quirky lyrics and odd time signatures. The band would go on to release 8 studio records and gain a large cult following, but barring "Punk Rock Girl" the band would never garner much success out of the college radio market. They would switch labels, and then disband.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with the rock a billy fell of "Tiny Town". I does feel "punky" as well, with the temp. Rodney has a funny drawl to his voice and all the backing vocals add to the charm. It is a quick and fast run of a song, clocking in at less than 2 minutes, a trend that will be for the duration of the record. "Beach Song" starts off much slower with a single guitar chiming before the bass and drums come in with the snoggy vocals sung. It reverts back to the quirky vocal delivery. The bass drives "Plum Dumb" far quicker than the other two tracks, but some how the band sings in more harmony than the prior tracks. The guitar has a great chime to it over the basic bass and drum line. The verses are sung quickly before they revert to more of the harmonies on the chorus. Blood really works the bass on "Swordfish" a silly track about faith in swordfish, but it makes sense..even if they believe in Joanie love Crotchie. The great guitar sounds returns on "V.F.W." the song is about being members of fucked up world. A great tune about teen angst and the bass and drums get the biggest workout. Its an instant sing along track that blends perfect in to "Rastabilly" a song that is just a blast to sing along to. It will take you about 2 listens to learn the words, but you'll sing along. Foot stomps, burps, laughs and a "heck of a frrrrrrrrrrrrrriend". "Serrated Edge" once more shows off Bloods bass chops. You don't usually think of "punk" records having such melodic bass parts, but Blood really locks into the groove. The drums and guitar keep a perfect groove with the bass and vocals. The band name checks Charles Nelson Reilly a few times and its more a punk rockabilly sound the band seems to really embrace. The band gets a little more technical on "Lucky". Technical in the sense of some odd time signatures. The sound and feel of the band is retained, its just a little off the pace for the band, which is fine. We don't tread any new ground nine tracks in on "Big Lizard" the albums title track. The fun part is just how you realize that simple can be often times really great. There are no flashy solos, just fun music tempos, good instrument separation and fun lyrics, really a great combination. "Gorilla Girl" finds Dean Clean clicking off on the drums before the band comes crashing in. Anonymous' vocals seem distorted at times and it has a very raw, demo tape feel when you listen. "Bitchin' Camaro" is probably one of the bigger know early tracks from the band. A dialogue between two guys about how they were going to get down to the shore. An anthem for all punks who made fun of jocks. The track would erupt into a major punk rock feel in the later half. "Filet of Sole" rolls back into the flavor we've been used to. (two songs about fish so far??hmm). As noted, the bass doesn't get too flashy, but makes a point and does it in under 2 minutes. "Spit Sink" is another track that feels like a left over demo track. It just "sounds" different than other tunes on the record. It is still the dead milkmen, but the mix is off or something. Talcum and Blood tag team off the intro to "Violent School" a song about as controversial as one could be, if the band were mainstream. Chanting "guns are cool" is going to perk up the ears of anyone these days. (those days too) "Takin' Retards to the Zoo" and "Junkie" are two tracks that both are less than one minute each. "Right Wing Pigeons" returns to more of the song convention on previous tracks. "Dean's Dream" is a quick punk paced track, but the vocals don't seem to fit the music as well. They are clear and not "screamed like you'd think. The band works the harmonies good on "Laundromat Song". Blood once again shows his bass chops on "Nutrition" and the band is really locked into the groove on the track. They implore you that they know about Nutrition after all. Clocking in at an astounding 5:27 "Tugena" closes off the record. This track is almost 3 minutes longer than the next closest with regard to length. Again, it has sort of that demo take sound to it and relies more on the band jamming than it does with a formula of verse chorus verse.

Where are they now? - You can get all the information you need on the FAQ section of their site right here. The band probably won't write a new record, or tour mostly due to Dave committing suicide in 2004. Here is a case where Wiki and the bands official contradict one another. Wiki says the band is not opposed to the idea, but the bands official site seems to say its really more up in the air. Granted both mean the same, but I take the bands official sites stance.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I was actually lucky to see the band live on two occasions. The first, I am not sure of the date, was at the Living Room in Providence. The show was ton of fun and the audience was just over the top having fun. I want to say fall of 88 or spring of 89. The second time was as an opening band for The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Mothers Milk tour) at the Orpheum in Boston on May 1, 1990. The Milkmen had a spirited set, and really got the place good and ready for a rock show.
If you care, FDF looked at the Chili Peppers Uplift Mofo Party Plan ages ago.

FDF Overall Take - The band would gain more success with "Punk Rock Girl" that came from a future release. Although they'd never chart, or sell a ton of records they had a ravenous fan base. This record is a lot of fun and sometimes just the quirkiness you need as part of your day.

The band has an official site that looks to be updated often.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Mp3's have been removed
Bitchin' Camaro

All the tracks from "Big Lizard in My Backyard" that you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Awesome choice. I'm so depressed that I'll never be able to experience a "Nelson Reilly orgy" now that CNR has passed.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Andy Corbett said...

Loved this album back in the day. I still can't see "Filet Of Sole" on a menu without singing that song...

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Viszlát Sjáumst said...

Awesome, AWESOME cd!! Gonna have to cue this one up for a few days.

My personal favorite part of the album is the "Right Wing Pigeons"-"Dean's Dream"-"Laundromat Song" trifecta (songs 17,18,19).

Such a perfect group of songs smack in the middle of the Reagan era.

R.W. Pigeon is their political protest.

I love that "Dean's Dream" seems to be a re-telling of one of Dean's actual dreams (Steve McGarret from Hawaii 5-0 at the steering wheel).

And "Laundromat Song" is plain, silly fun.

Love this album.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Viszlát Sjáumst said...

p.s. I never understood "Tugena" either. I used to 'survive' it because I thought it would be rude to skip it.

It has grown on me over the years, though. It's quite an enjoyable piece, now.


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