The Dead Milkmen


The Dead Milkmen  are an American satirical punk rock band formed in 1983 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The band distinguished themselves amid the local underground hardcore scene of the early 1980’s through their jangly punk sound and sardonic humor delivered with thick Philadelphia accents.  They enjoyed international success on the strength of “Punk Rock Girl”, a single from their 1988 Beelzebubba album which entered into MTV rotation.  (More from Wikipedia)
Well, somebody had to introduce some comic relief into all of this grimness, and the Dead Milkmen certainly fit the bill.  Unlike, say, Green Jellö, this band was quite accomplished, if good-naturedly goofy; and they released several good albums – three of them earned four stars or better on Allmusic.  They also managed to come up with a hit song on college radio, “Punk Rock Girl”; the video on MTV was filled with bloopers and out-takes and shots of a green Mohawk waving back and forth.  There was even an “answer song” by a band called the Excessories called “Punk Rock Boy” that, if anything, was even better; it was included on one of my all-time favorite compilation albums (by a Spanish record label), Muga 16 Años
I have read that the Dead Milkmen were treated dismissively when they started trying to be a more serious band – there’s that name problem again! – but I suppose they are still at it anyway, because I notice that they released an album last year called The King in Yellow.  The name is taken from one of my favorite collections of stories; it is by Robert W. Chambers and includes one of the best 19th Century weird-fiction stories (it has been widely anthologized), “The Yellow Sign”.  Besides being the title of the collection, The King in Yellow is also said to be a hauntingly beautiful play that is referenced in several stories in the book.  The play has the ability to drive its readers insane, particularly those who peruse Act 2; with only a handful of quotations and limited details on the story line, the play stays in the background but gives the stories a truly sinister air.  The King in Yellow (the imaginary play that is) is an analogue of the forbidden book that was invented by H. P. Lovecraft called the Necronomicon, and Lovecraft handled it in much the same way in his stories.  (I also read that one of the bandmembers in the Dead Milkmen took the name H. P. Hovercraft for a time). 
(July 2012)
Last edited: March 22, 2021