Okay, here's some stuff I've been trying to locate for going on four years now, and which I finally stumbled across on the Net yesterday -- thus proving that a) I need a life and b) the Intertubes remain a wondrous thing.
From 1973, then, please enjoy L.A. glam-rock almost contenders Christopher Milk and their surprisingly credible cover version of Terry Reid's cult-favorite "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace."
I say "surprisingly credible" for reasons that will become obvious in a few moments, but in any case, Christopher Milk were the brainchild of the irrepressible John Mendelssohn [the tall guy with the bad hair second from right in the photo]. He and a few of the other Milks had previously been in an early version of Sparks with the Mael Brothers, but John was mostly known at the time -- late 60s and early 70s -- as one of the most influential (and certainly the funniest) of the reviewers at Rolling Stone; he famously wrote a pan of Led Zeppelin II in which he opined that Jimmy Page was "the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5'4" and 5'8" in the world."
On a more personal note, I should add that John won my heart as an early champion of The Kinks (he compiled and annotated the vastly influential The Kink Kronikles double LP for Reprise) and that his rave RS review of The Move's Shazam quite literally changed my life. I also was privileged to assign him a couple of pieces during my early tenure at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review; at some point, there was some kind of a problem (as there often was) with my editor-in-chief, and John -- like Paul Nelson, later -- become persona non grata at the rag. But to my knowledge there were no lasting hard feelings, and I've talked to him, quite civilly although occasionally, over the years since.
But I digress.
In any event, the Milk began their career with a 7-inch EP available as a promo-only on United Artists, which I remember as being sort of vaguely sub-Zappa whimsy/mishegass, but they soon got signed to a major label -- Warner/Reprise (where John had connections thanks to his promo work for the Kinks) -- and in 1972 they unleashed their one and only album, the amusingly monikered Some People Will Drink Anything, to a largely uncaring world. The album should have been better than it was, in part due to first-rate production by former Beatles engineer Chris Thomas (who of course went on to make truly great records with everybody from Procol Harum to the Sex Pistols and The Pretenders), but alas it was hampered, perhaps fatally, by wayward songwriting and the fact that Mendelssohn was probably not as memorable a frontman as he most likely saw himself. I actually listened to the LP several times back in the day -- Mendelssohn, after all, was the first rock critic to secure a big time recording contract, and if he could, anything seemed possible (if you catch my drift). But try as I might, I was never able to remember a single song on the album (save for a less amusing than it should have been heavy metal cover/parody of "Locomotion" which may or may not have influenced Grand Funk and Todd Rundgren) after I was done.
Which brings us to "Speak Now," recorded for a 45 in a last ditch attempt (unsuccessful, obviously) to get a hit and prevent Reprise from dropping the band from its roster. Like I said, given everything it's surprisingly credible. In fact, it's one of the Great Lost Singles of the '70s -- perhaps not quite as well sung as Reid's version, but in all other ways, to my surprise, superior both to the original and to the later and more celebrated Cheap Trick cover; clearly it's also the highpoint of the Milk's career in the studio.
Of course, the b-side, a version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand' done as a send-up of Bob Dylan and Leon Russell, is shall we say less impressive.
I mean, I know it's supposed to be a piss-take, but I find it mostly unlistenable rather than risible. Your mileage may vary, however.
Anyway, if you're curious, you can download -- gratis -- both the United Artists EP and Some People in their entirety over here, although I offer no assurances that you'll thank me if you do.
[h/t The Pipe]