The first Milkshakes album has everything one would want and expect from a Billy Childish-involved release: ragged energy, disaffection tempered by a desire to get one's ya-ya's out, and over a dozen songs in under half an hour. It's pure freakbeat/garage action from 1965 or so smack-dab in 1981, but the thing is, it's so fresh sounding that it neatly sidesteps the whole nostalgia issue. Indeed, it actually sounds better technically speaking than a lot of the material that inspired it, for all that the group was clearly aiming for that sound and presentation in the first place. Sentiments are simple and summed up by the song titles: "I Want'Cha for My Little Girl," "Love You the Whole Night Through," "I Say You Lie," and so forth. The ghosts of everyone from Link Wray and Duane Eddy to early Yardbirds and Who haunt the record, by welcome invitation of the participants (Keith Relf in particular sounds like he's been summoned from the dead, not a bad person to have on one's side). The band's secret weapon is occasional guest Martin Waller, whose sax work on tracks like "Pretty Baby" and "Shed Country" add even more rough raunch to the proceedings. He may not be a virtuoso but he adds the right fire (compared to a nonentity like David Sanborn, say, there's no question which performer any sane band would want to have on their side). Childish and Mickey Hampshire have plenty of fun spitting out their vocals in pure English-guy-who-loves-American R&B style, while the Bruce Brand/Mark Gilbert rhythm section keeps the album rumbling along in merry fashion, adding enough hip-swinging fun to the songs to ensure that one can indeed get a groove on.
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