The Genius of Billy Childish: with thee Headcoats & thee Milkshakes

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The Genius of Billy Childish: with thee Headcoats & thee Milkshakes
Cherry Red Films

Street: 2004

This concert video chronicles shows from two separate Billy Childish bands that were recorded nine years apart. The first section is an April ’84 performance by thee Milkshakes at the Nothing But Trash festival in Nottingham, England. The second half is a Headcoats show in Liverpool in September of ’93. Although Cherry Red video has a reputation for releasing bootleg-style concert dvds, this one is actually very well done. The footage is clean and shot from many different angles, and the sound is very much DVD quality. This is rare for what is essentially archival footage. What’s even better is that, by having these shows on the same disc, one can easily trace the evolution in Childish’s music. Where thee Milkshakes were heavy on the retro-surf-punk-pop blend of songs, thee Headcoats were much more straight forward garage rock, a smaller band with almost twice the oomph. Several of the same songs make it into both sets (“Jack the Ripper,” “Pretty Baby”), making the comparison of the two bands an almost unconscious act. And just when thee Headcoats set becomes too garage-y, the trio is joined on stage by thee Headcoatees, the four-woman vocal troupe that represent Childish’s stab at girl-group pop stardom (and the perfect vocal foil to Childish at the mic). It is a collection of raw recordings for sure, but at almost three dozen songs, it shows perfectly why Billy Childish remains at the forefront of the modern garage movement. -James Bennett