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Harvey Milk - Harvey Milk CD (album) cover


Harvey Milk


Experimental/Post Metal

3.05 | 2 ratings

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3 stars Released in 2010, this is actually Harvey Milk's long-lost unreleased debut album, recorded in the early 1990s with Bob Weston (of NC-based Merge Records; he was also a member of Shellac with indie legend Steve Albini). The cassette pictured on the front is the actual final master tape of the planned album that for some reason never happened. Considering all this, it's got great sound, far better than the bootleg-quality one might expect given the circumstances.

Several of these songs (the real long ones) were eventually re-recorded and included on the band's proper debut album, My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be: "Jim's Polish", "Merlin is Magic", "My Father's Life's Work", and "FSTP". The versions are actually not that different from the "official" versions, and are probably better consumed in the context of that album, though fans will definitely want to have both. The song "Plastic Eggs" was later re-recorded for their second album, "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men" in a slightly better version, and "Anthem" eventually was re-recorded for their boogie-riffic third album "The Pleaser".

The remaining songs are not completely new to Harvey Milk fans, as "Blueberry Dookie", "Smile" and "Probolkoc" all appeared on a messy odds-and-ends collection cheekily entitled "Singles" during the band's long hiatus at the beginning of the century. And "Dating Pressures" was also previously seen on the second archival release during the hiatus, The Kelly Sessions. As with all the other tracks, the versions are slightly different (and with more clear sound, in the case of the "Singles" tracks").

Now that we have that out of the way, what does it sound like? Early Harvey Milk is not quite as slow and torturous as they would soon get, and still owed a heavy debt to fellow sludge bands like the Melvins and the Jesus Lizard. Even at this early stage, though, Creston Spiers (guitar), Stephen Tanner (bass), and Pauly Trudeau (drums) have a unique sound, both individually and together, and attack these difficult songs with power and confidence. Spiers' vocals may be a sore spot with some, as he takes the howling shriek of the Jesus Lizard's David Yow and turns it into something not just maniacal, but pained as well.

Though this is primarily a release for those who are already fans, it's a very worthwhile album that gives a new look at Harvey Milk's early days.

HolyMoly | 3/5 |


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