Album Review: The Milk Men – Holy Cow

Review by Peter Coates

Released – 3rd May 2024

The Milk Men are: Adam Norsworthy (The Mustangs) on guitar, Jamie Smy on vocals, Lloyd Green (son of Mick Green – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates) on bass guitar, and Mike Roberts (from the excellent Pirates) on drums. The guys have been rocking around the UK for the past 14 years, with an exhilarating live show, and Holy Cow is their fifth studio album release.

With their sartorial style and classic R’n’B sound, comparisons with the great Dr Feelgood come with the territory, and Jamie cites Lee Brilleaux as one of his major influences.  But it is fair to say that there are a wider range of influences across the blues and classic rock spectrum which contribute to the whole Milk Men sound, including some funk and groove which sits well alongside the bluesy guitars.

The album opens up with the lead single One Man Band, which has an infectious groove and a hook of a guitar riff that sits over the straight-up bass and drum beat, and a catchy chorus that cries out for crowd participation – “Raise Your Hand – for the One Man Band”, over a slick shuffling snare pattern and some sizzling guitar breaks, before the staccato accents that punctuate the final chorus.     Hungover is in much the same mould, with the raspy vocal delivery from Jamie Smy mixing nicely with the raucous guitar sound, and some great harmony backing vocals behind the verses.

The intro to Give A Little Love is a combination of Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Prince, with a funked up guitar riff and keyboards from Adam Norsworthy, and some cracking basswork from Lloyd Green, and this rolls on through the verse and chorus, under the constant crisp bass drum pattern from Mike Roberts, from the stripped back middle-eight through to the added power and volume in the final chorus.  There is a touch of The Knack or The Cars to Wild Girls, with an acapella intro, and a Bachman Turner Overdrive riff, which includes an ethereal lead guitar solo that leads into an incongruous vocal interlude before reverting to the rocked up final section.

Easy Touch, one of two songs written by Lloyd with David Coleman, is a poppy guitar-driven number with a catchy chorus that would be a radio-friendly release, and would not be out of place on a Monkees record, while Bad News Blues, from the same writers, is a much more Pirate-like 12-bar boogie that lets Mike have a bit of fun on the kit with Adam delivers a Wilko Johnson riff.  This will certainly become a favourite of the band’s live shows, and really starts to go off in the final double-chorus.  This is one Contender for track of the album for my part!

Another ripper is up next with the slightly smoother, but no less energetic Fill Her Shoes, which features some searing lead breaks, and a cracking solo, and has an extra dimension of sonic layering that softens the raucous delivery, without losing the raw energy that characterises The Milk Men sound.  This is blues rock at it’s best.  A change of mood and tempo for Fool For Loving You, which is a mellow ballad with a George Benson guitar sound, and almost a big band feel, seeing Jamie provide a much softer lead vocal in contrast to the more usual rockier sound.

Misty Road gets us back into the blues rock vein, with another corker of a lead guitar line, and some stellar harmony vocals providing multiple harmony lines to the verse and chorus, and a pulsating mid-section driven by the bass and drums, with Adam letting rip in a slightly restrained fashion on the lead guitar.  This is my second contender for best on the record.

The album winds up with another slower-tempo number, in Don’t Trust My Life, featuring Bennett Holland on the Hammond organ, which adds that classic sound to the band.  This has a very retro vibe, and an almost psychedelic feel to the instrumental mid-section and solo.  

There is real variety in this album, and as a newcomer to the band, this provides a broad introduction to the Milk Men.  In the words of the band, Guitarist and co-producer, Adam says: “This album is leaner, tougher, and more dynamic than any we have made before… but still dripping with hooks and some great lyrics. It’s very much what we do… just better than ever!”

Vocalist Jamie adds, “I see this album as having a number of core themes which could all be bracketed under ‘the blues’ in terms of subject matter, if not musically. Holy Cow is far rawer than our other albums with less overdubs and less backing vocals, but still packed with hooks, melody, and attitude.  It’s the closest we’ve got to The Milk Men live experience in the studio.”

Pic – Rob Blackham

Upcoming Gig Guide
Saturday 27th April – Bosworth Blues Festival
Thursday 16th May – Red Arrow Club, Ramsgate (Buy Tickets)
Saturday May 18th – Live@Eastwell Village Hall, Melton Mowbray (Buy Tickets)
Friday May 31st – Venue 16, Ipswich (supporting Dr. Feelgood) (Buy Tickets)
Saturday 1st June – The Bird In Hand, Fareham, Hampshire
Saturday 8th June – The Musician, Leicester (Buy Tickets)
Saturday 15th June – Boogaloo Festival, Toorak Hotel, Torquay
Tuesday 18th June – Tuesday Night Music Club, Coulsdon
Thursday 27th June – The Half Moon, Putney – ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Friday 28th June – Blues At The Bay, Stockton
Saturday 29th June – Saltburn Blues Club, N Yorkshire (Buy Tickets)
Sunday 30th June – The Cluny, Newcastle
Saturday 6th July – Alfold Blues Festival (Buy Tickets)
Friday 12th July – 100 Club, Oxford Street (Supporting the Dirt Road Band)

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Pic – Rob Blackham