August 6, 2009
Wonderfully Colored Plastic War Toys
When the Dead Milkmen dropped this record, their legions of fans immediately shat the bed. This was a band that was massively popular in underground circles, with the punks and skaters, the college rock dudes, even some of the goths and metalheads all having one of the ubiquitous smiling cow t-shirts. My first exposure to them was before I was even into punk at all, when someone let me hear "Bitchin' Camaro" and "Rastabilly" and inexplicably told me it was early Anthrax. What did I know.
Anyway, Soul Rotation isn't funny. At all. That's it's biggest misstep. Even when they weren't hilarious, the Milkmen were consistently chuckle-worthy, or at the very least you could tell they were trying. On this record, the lyrics are occasionally odd, but not really in a humorous way. So there's that. Another weird thing is that Joe Jack Talcum (or Butterfly Fairweather as he went by on this record) sings more songs than Rodney Anonymous (H.P Hovercraft on this record).
But the music is really great. The simple punk sound of their early records is gone, replaced by melodic pop, funk, even a little ska. There are a coupl'a punkish songs here, but it's different. Anyway, I've always stood by it, even though the band never really recovered from the perceived quality drop (Not Richard, But Dick was a pretty good return to their earlier irreverence, but Stoney's Extra Stout (Pig) was terrible). What was side 2 (starting with the excellent "Silly Dreams") is stronger than side 1, FYI.