Milk and Alcohol
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Milk and Alcohol

"Milk and Alcohol"
Milk and Alcohol single cover.jpg
Single by Dr. Feelgood
from the album Private Practice
"Every Kind of Vice"
ReleasedJanuary 1979 (1979-01)
Recorded1978
GenreRock and roll, pub rock
Length2:55
LabelUnited Artists Records -- UP 36468
Nick Lowe/Gypie Mayo
Richard Gottehrer
Dr. Feelgood singles chronology
""Down at the Doctors""
(1978)
"Milk and Alcohol"
(1979)
""As Long As The Price is Right""
(1979)
"Down at the Doctors"
(1978)
"Milk and Alcohol"
(1979)
"As Long As The Price is Right"
(1979)

"Milk and Alcohol" is a song by the band Dr. Feelgood, that reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart in 1979.[1] Written by Nick Lowe and Gypie Mayo, and produced by Richard Gottehrer,[2] the song was Dr. Feelgood's biggest hit and continues to be played by the band.

History

"Milk and Alcohol", written in 1978 by Nick Lowe and John "Gypie" Mayo, reportedly retells Lowe's 1970s experiences drinking one too many Kahlúa-milk drinks at or after a United States concert by bluesman John Lee Hooker. However, while the song anonymously criticises Hooker ("Main attraction dead on his feet, Black man rhythm with a white boy beat"), ironically it was inspired by Hooker's own lyric about "milk, cream and alcohol".[3][4][5][6] The song was recorded in 1978[7] and first appeared on Private Practice, an album by Dr. Feelgood that was released in October 1978.[7] The heavy riffs on "Milk and Alcohol" were added by Mayo, a guitarist who replaced Wilko Johnson in 1978, after Johnson left the band as a result of an argument over the recording of Dr. Feelgood's fourth album, Sneakin' Suspicion (1977).[8]

"Milk and Alcohol" was released as a single in January 1979.[7] The vinyl material of the single record was issued in the three colours of black, white and brown, with the white and brown meant to call to mind white milk and brown alcohol.[9] The outline of a Kahlúa bottle appears on the record sleeve.[9] The background around the bottle on the different record sleeves was varied to match the vinyl colour.[9]

The song reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart in the same month it was released.[1][10] The track reached number nine in the United Kingdom chart, in part due to the song's reference to the milk and alcohol drink,[11] and spent nine weeks in the listing.[12] Capitalizing on the notoriety the song brought, the band presented "Milk and Alcohol" live to audiences around the world in 1979, including in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Russia and the United States.[1]

Composition

The song is in the key of C major, and has a tempo of 168. Like many other Dr Feelgood songs, it has a shuffle feel and a short guitar solo after the second chorus.

Impact

"Milk and Alcohol" was the band's fourth hit single in the United Kingdom, and their only Top 10 single in the UK Singles Chart.[12] In 1979, the musical world was perceived as being dominated by "fey glam-rockers and 15-minute Mellotron solos."[13] When "Milk and Alcohol" was played in the pubs of Canvey Island in the late 1970s, the song came across as a radical departure that contributed to "a short, sharp shock of roots rock."[13] For a while, the song led to some drinking both alcohol and milk while listening to Dr. Feelgood perform live.[14]

In April 1989, a remixed "Milk and Alcohol (New Recipe)" was issued by EMI in both 7" vinyl ((EM 89) with "She's Got Her Eyes on You" as the B-side); and 12" vinyl ((12 EM 89) with "She's Got Her Eyes on You" and "Mad Man Blues" on the B-side).[15] Both songs were later released on the "Rarities" disc of their Looking Back compilation album.

In 1997, "Milk and Alcohol" continued to be played by the band while making the rounds of the world's pubs, clubs and concert halls.[16] However, by 2003, "Milk and Alcohol" was seen as a "forgotten gem".[17] With the band continuing to present the song in concerts, the music community regained respect for the song. In 2005, the band's biggest hit was being called a "classic."[18][19] In that same year, "Milk and Alcohol" was considered by the music magazine Q in its compilation of the top ten cigarettes and alcohol songs for the ultimate soundtrack to a drinking session, but lost out to the 1987 song "Nightrain" by the American rock band, Guns N' Roses.[20] Mayo's guitar performance on "Milk and Alcohol", which ranked as number four on a 2005 list of the top ten great British guitar heroes,[21] was cited in that same listing for waking "a generation of guitarists up to the sheer power and energy" of the guitar.[21]

Three decades after reaching the UK's top ten, "Milk and Alcohol" continues to be a popular choice for the band during its concerts.[22][23][24][25]

Covers

Year Singer/Group Album Comments
1980 Frank Zander Crazy Harry [single]
  • as "Blut und Alkohol"
1991 Mats Ronander Hård Kärlek
  • as "Mjölk och Alkohol"
1994 The Emmerroyts Emmerroyt's Blues
1995 Tenderloin Bullseye
1995 Jimmy Keith and his Shocky Horrors Hey Rock 'N' Roll
2002 Scum Rats Go Out in a Scum Dream
2010 Turo's Hevi Gee Kaikkien Aijojen Parhaat
  • as "Kossua Ja Kaakaomaitoa"
2010 Wild King Rockers [EP]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Lee Brilleaux, 41, British Blues Singer". The New York Times. 9 April 1994. p. 111. Retrieved 2008.
  2. ^ "Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. Retrieved 2008.
  3. ^ "John Lee Hooker John Lee Hooker CD". Web.archive.org. 4 June 2008. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ Serves Me Right To Suffer - John Lee Hooker on YouTube, 1969
  5. ^ Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  6. ^ Butterfield, John (8 February 2007). "K is for ... Kahlua". Drfeelgood.de. England. Retrieved 2008. Whilst in the USA in the 70's the Feelgoods took to drinking a cocktail made up of milk and alcohol. A certain Nick Lowe was also present having gone along for the ride. No need to say where the milk came from but the alcohol part of the cocktail was kahlua - Mexican coffee liquor with herbs and vanilla around 26% alcohol. Sparko drank the most of this concoction during the American stay but one night the lads took a trip to see John Lee Hooker in concert and having drunk many a milk and kahlua, their journey back was interrupted when the arm of the law stopped them. This story is told in the song "Milk and Alcohol" written by Nick Lowe and Gypie Mayo several years later.Toasted Almond, White Russian, and Brown cow are/were popular Kahlúa/milk drinks.
  7. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 290-291. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  8. ^ Moon, Tony (2002). Down by the Jetty (2nd ed.). Borden, Hants: Northdown Publishing Ltd. pp. 56-58. ISBN 1-900711-15-X.
  9. ^ a b c Moon, Tony (2002). Down by the Jetty (2nd ed.). Borden, Hants: Northdown Publishing Ltd. pp. 66 & 122. ISBN 1-900711-15-X.
  10. ^ "30-something and still feeling good". The Sentinel. 14 January 2005. p. 35. Retrieved 2008.
  11. ^ "Coffee time". Evening Chronicle. 20 October 2007. Retrieved 2008.
  12. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 162. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  13. ^ a b Bungey, John (8 September 2001). "Reissues and singles; Music". The Times.
  14. ^ "Band not banned; How greedy local councils are killing live music". The Times. 19 July 2001.
  15. ^ Moon, Tony (2002). Down by the Jetty (2nd ed.). Borden, Hants: Northdown Publishing Ltd. p. 123. ISBN 1-900711-15-X.
  16. ^ Somerville, Christopher (2 May 1997). "The first no-quarter-century; Arts; Music; Profile; Dr. Feelgood". The Times. p. 38.
  17. ^ Cole, Paul (14 September 2003). "Play: CD Reviews -- Driving Rock Anthems (EMI Gold) (Various)". Sunday Mercury. p. 43. Retrieved 2008.
  18. ^ "Feelgood time at the new half moon club". Plymouth Evening Herald. 27 May 2005. p. 32. Retrieved 2008.
  19. ^ "Doctor's orders at Half Moon". Torquay Herald Express. 2 June 2005. Retrieved 2008.
  20. ^ Barnes, Anthony (27 March 2005). "Singalong with Cigarettes and Alcohol ..." Independent on Sunday. p. 7. Retrieved 2008.
  21. ^ a b Edwards, Mark (6 March 2005). "Get on Down: Guitar heroes". The Times. p. 23. Retrieved 2008.
  22. ^ "Feelgood factor at venue". Carmarthen Journal. 20 September 2006. p. 45. Retrieved 2008.
  23. ^ Cowen, Andy (5 May 2008). "Culture: Doctor in the house". Birmingham Post. p. 11. Retrieved 2008.
  24. ^ "Doctor left sub rooms audience feeling good". Gloucestershire Echo. 21 May 2008. p. 20. Retrieved 2008.
  25. ^ "Rock around the docks". Gloucestershire Echo. 22 August 2008. p. 8. Retrieved 2008.

External links


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