So, my band's fourth full-length album, Milk Milk Lemonade, was released 27 years (that is, half my life) ago. You'd think I'd have got used to these sorts of milestones by now, but they're always weird to contemplate. Some "minor secrets" are, perhaps, in order. Ahem... I've been listening to this record in various states quite a lot recently in the process of selecting songs for the Mtx forever compilation, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of alternate versions, and trying to plan what should be done to make whatever might be selected most "presentable." This album is quite a strange beast. It was ridiculously ambitious for it's tiny budget and all the complexity and strange production ideas and experimentation left lots of loose ends dangling and a whole lot of room for a great many things to go awry. Moreover, I was still very much feeling my way blindly in the general direction of songwriting. There are flashes of, well, if not Songwriting Greatness, I suppose you'd say: songwriting competence, and there's certainly a whole lot uniqueness, for what that's worth. But as with the sonic adventurism, much of which also managed against all odds to "come off," these flashes were kindled and fired off amidst a good deal of awkwardness. For many years the things that went awry and the awkwardness were all I was able to hear, and I shied away from it, mostly. Now I see it a bit differently, as a product of all its factors, from the unintentionally sublime to the mis-intentionally ridiculous, and as an artifact of a minor, rather unusual arm of punk rock history that still somehow remains impactful decades later. (Which you really can't say about all that many little records like this.) People still listen to it. For fun. Which is something I'd never have predicted. (My delusions of grandeur during recording were tremendous indeed, but they didn't stretch to imagining anyone would be paying any attention to it thirty years thence: I couldn't even imagine life past 30 myself.) And in a world where so much sounds the same as everything else, then as now, it is unique, for better or worse. It certainly sounded nothing like anything our "contemporaries" were doing, those in our little Lookout world and those outside it. And as for "fans," it threw them all for a loop. (Though the follow-up threw the same people for a loop too, many of whom had decided they liked the one particular loop after all and wished we would stay there: so it goes.) It is the strangest sounding record we've ever done, and quite possibly the strangest-sounding thing Lookout ever put out. But underneath it all were at least some pretty good songs, and maybe more importantly some very good foundations for avenues of approach to songwriting that would produce much more effective results later on. As I've written before, somewhere, the grasping but not reaching itself seems to lend a certain verisimilitude to songs meant to communicate a sense of confusion and a feeling of directionlessness. You couldn't do it on purpose if you tried., I really believe that. e.g. "See It Now". I could write that song better now, far better. But it wouldn't be better. Not being better is better, at least in a certain sense. I guess that's what you call a paradox. On the production, arrangement, and sonic side of things, one curious consequence of having such a low budget with which to try to execute such a riot of complicated ideas is... there was hardly any room for "stretching out" and experimenting in the studio as a "real band" might have done. The experimentation did happen, but whatever the results of any given experiment, we were pretty much stuck with them with no realistic chance of deciding it didn't work and choosing to try a different way. I don't know if you ever noticed the "tuning up" solo in the song "Christine Bactine" (maybe not because it's such a tangle.) It's just a dumb idea I had. In Milk Milk Lemonade, a dumb idea committed to tape stayed in, because there just wasn't the time or space to replace it. And "riot" is certainly the correct word there: there were so many ideas, coming from all over the place, many of them quite crazy, most of which didn't even end up happening but are hinted at. ("Book of Revelation" gives a flavor of it perhaps, but it could have gone even further.) The fact that it is as coherent as it is is more or less to be attributed solely to Kevin Army, who managed to take the riot and, despite long odds and rather straitened circumstances, condense it all into something that sounded like an album. I haven't been shy about admitting that I am not fond of many of the sonic choices made in the process, but... well, you probably have no idea how close it all came to going off the deep end, and it's good there was someone there with a coherent vision. That person certainly couldn't have been me. I was a great big mess. (And by the way, if your impression of this record is based solely, or even substantially, on the mp3s-ripped-from-CD Spotify version, you haven't really heard it: the "real thing," properly mastered, is gonna blow your mind. Also by the way, the image is the cover of a 1993 *Polish* bootleg cassette I found listed on discogs when searching for images. We'd been there in '92, the timeline is logical.) So yeah, Milk Milk Lemonade. 1992. I'd already wasted half my life-time or so, but there was, it turned out more to come. #music #albums #songs #nostalgia #minds

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Happy 27th birthday to Milk Milk Lemonade! What’s your favorite song on it? Or, at least, it’s sort of, maybe(?) its birthday today. Even though all sources seem to agree with 1992, there were some discrepancies on the actual release date. One site said May 22nd, and I thought May 22nd seemed like a good date, so we’re going to go with May 22 as the unofficial official birthday of this wonderful album if that’s alright with you. (But if anyone has any documentation of the actual release date, please let me know so I can correct it for next year! I pretty much can’t find any release dates for anything before Love is Dead, so I’ll be making up dates for those albums until I get more info.) This is my favorite of the earlier MTX albums. It’s got some real rockers. And I think it’s perfectly balanced — it’s still got the heavier songs of MTX past while introducing the poppier elements of MTX future. I heard someone describe it as the designated album he and his friends would listen to when they couldn’t decide/agree on what else to listen to. I think that sums it up perfectly. You can’t go wrong with Milk Milk Lemonade. So, let’s celebrate. Go put on this record, sit back, relax, and sip on a delicious blue cream soda while you listen. I hope it brings you a smile because that’s what makes it all worthwhile. There’s something more important somewhere, but MTX sure is up there. #mtxforever #music #records #vinyl #mrtexperience @frankportman

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More from Dr Frank

Happy 27th birthday to Milk Milk Lemonade! What’s your favorite song on it? Or, at least, it’s sort of, maybe(?) its birthday today. Even though all sources seem to agree with 1992, there were some discrepancies on the actual release date. One site said May 22nd, and I thought May 22nd seemed like a good date, so we’re going to go with May 22 as the unofficial official birthday of this wonderful album if that’s alright with you. (But if anyone has any documentation of the actual release date, please let me know so I can correct it for next year! I pretty much can’t find any release dates for anything before Love is Dead, so I’ll be making up dates for those albums until I get more info.) This is my favorite of the earlier MTX albums. It’s got some real rockers. And I think it’s perfectly balanced — it’s still got the heavier songs of MTX past while introducing the poppier elements of MTX future. I heard someone describe it as the designated album he and his friends would listen to when they couldn’t decide/agree on what else to listen to. I think that sums it up perfectly. You can’t go wrong with Milk Milk Lemonade. So, let’s celebrate. Go put on this record, sit back, relax, and sip on a delicious blue cream soda while you listen. I hope it brings you a smile because that’s what makes it all worthwhile. There’s something more important somewhere, but MTX sure is up there. #mtxforever #music #records #vinyl #mrtexperience @frankportman

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