Synopsis of Pop Music
“I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'Do you have a beau?'
She looked at me and smiled and said she did not know.
Punk rock girl, give me a chance,
Let’s go slam dance,
We’ll dress like Minnie Pearl,
Just you and me, punk rock girl...”
Their band name came from renowned author Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, in which a character is named “Milkman Dead.” Almost certainly, that’s the most erudite detail that can be gleaned from this band’s punkish legacy—punk-'ish' because they just weren’t angry enough to be straight-ahead punk. Everything else went raucously, proudly downhill after this. Right into a pool of profanity, scatological humor, out-there pop culture references and lyrics for which the adjective 'playful' doesn’t even begin to do justice. There are recording artists who take themselves very seriously, and then there are guys, who in a million years, would never wax pretentious enough to call themselves artists.
Half of the Milkmen came from a place called Wagontown, located in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Since plowing the fields and erecting barns isn’t fun for everyone, Joe passed the time by penning a newsletter that featured a good-hearted (but dim-witted) band frontman named “Jack Talcum.” After graduation, he became one with his creation, taking Talcum’s name, and then joined high school friend Rodney Anonymous (not his real name) and post high-school friends Dave Blood and Dean Clean (not theirs either) for a little music romp. The Philly underground was their mid-80’s oyster, and their debut album Big Lizard in My Backyard did bring them some alternative radio play. But mostly, the quartet stayed a gloriously obnoxious college kids’ treasure.
The albums they released—Eat Your Paisley!, Bucky Fellini, Beelzebubba (with its MTV-appearing single, “Punk Rock Girl”), Metaphysical Graffiti—some would say, became oh-so-slightly less juvenile. But just some. Their label, Enigma, dropped them after Metaphysical. Sadly, it seems, the mainstream just wasn’t ready for song titles like "Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me," "Thing That Only Eats Hippies," "Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything)" and "If You Love Somebody, Set Them on Fire," even if they were wicked mainstream pop satires.
Maybe the Milkmen were before their time. Maybe they will be the Van Goughs of whimsy punk—recognized as geniuses, but only after they’re gone. Maybe engraved museums plaques will feature poesy brilliance such as: “Uh, what kinda car do ya’ got? I've got a bitchin' Camaro, bitchin’ Camaro, bitchin' Camaro.” Or, you know, maybe not.
Artist Release History1985 – Big Lizard in My Backyard
1986 – Eat Your Paisley!
1987 – Bucky Fellini
1988 – Beelzebubba
1990 – Metaphysical Graffiti
1992 – Soul Rotation
1992 – If I Had a Gun
1993 – Not Richard But Dick
1994 – Chaos Rules – Live at the Trocadero
1995 – Stoney’s Extra Stout
1997 - Death Rides a Pale Cow
1998 - Cream of the Crop: The Best of the Dead Milkmen
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsCream of the Crop: The Best of the Dead Milkmen (BMG)
Band MembersJoe Jack Talcum guitar, vocals
Rodney Anonymous Melloncamp vocals
Dave Blood bass
Dean Clean drums