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Milk It: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the '90s Paperback – October 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"A stinging indictment against the corporatization of rock." -- Harp December 2003/January 2004

"A wild, firsthand, in-depth look at the entire alternative music scene of the 90s...Interesting, enlightening, and highly enjoyable." -- Razor January 2004

"An entertaining read." -- Boulder Camera 11/14/03

"Concise, probing profiles and reviews...DeRogatis is one of the most candid, passionate, skilled, and entertaining music scribes working today." -- Austin Chronicle 12/05/03

"This book is even better than I expected it to be-and that's saying something." -- Jersey Beat Spring 2003

"Variously entertaining, exasperating and, when discussing Sinead O'Connor, even sensitive." -- Blender September, 2003

"When DeRogatis sinks his teeth into a subject, he tears into it with gusto, making for genuinely enjoyable reading." -- Omaha Reader 03/11/04

"[DeRogatis is rock criticism's] most dedicated journeyman and unapologetic gadfly." -- Chicago Reader 10/17/03

About the Author

Jim DeRogatis is pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, the co-host of WXRT-FM's "Sound Opinions," and the ASCAP/Deems Taylor award-winning author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic. A frequent contributor to Spin, Guitar World, Modern Drummer, and other magazines, DeRogatis lives in Chicago.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306812711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306812712
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,493,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By SPM on November 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Jim DeRogatis attempts to sum up the music of the 1990s (with an emphasis on the first half of the decade) by reprinting ten years' worth of articles. The articles come from a dozen different publications.
The result is admirable but unsatisfying. He's critical of the bands, which is good. His articles on REM, for example, reveal their careful manipulation of the media. He lets Courtney Love bury herself in outbursts, he slams NWA for selling hate, and he attempts to portray Rage Against the Machine's guitarist as some sort of socialist dupe. That's the kind of entertainment journalism we need --- something skeptical, not the usual fawning over celebrities and rock stars.
The problem is, the book isn't focused. The articles should have been re-written, expanded, and combined into longer essays. Too many of them are so short, you wonder why he bothered to include them. (Maybe to make the book longer.) DeRogatis trivializes his own point of view by touching on each band too lightly. This book is worth reading but not worth buying. I'd gladly read a sequel, a complete review of music in the 1990s, written from scratch. Hopefully, he'll make this flawed but interesting book an introduction to a better one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this world of criticism, there are two ways to go. You can either offer an objective take on the work you are criticizing or you can conform to the wishes of your editor and offer up a puff piece. Some critics will go for the puff piece. Lester Bangs never did. And neither has Jim Derogatis,
Derogatis, music critic for the Chicago Sun Times and frequent contributor to many music/entertainment related periodicals, is one of the most honest and objective music writers out there today. And he's one of the most entertaining as well as Milk It: Collected Musing On The Alternative Music Explosion Of The 90s proves. The 410-page book, a collection of his pieces from that era, positions Derogatis as the heir to Bangs throne.
Derogatis divides the book into 14 different sections. Each section is devoted to a particular band (Nirvana, REM) or a particular topic (Britpop, Women In Rock). The sections consist of various reviews, interviews and other essays. In other words, it's a rummage sale of recycled material. But as far as single author collections of works of criticism go, it's one of the better ones out there.
As I said earlier, Derogatis doesn't hesitate to call it as he sees it. There are two articles of Courtney Love quotes contained here. Unaltered quotes that portray Ms. Love as interesting and rather psychotic. The Smashing Pumpkins section cheers on the band for its success. But some of the portrayals of Billy Corgan are none too flattering.
In the intro to his women in rock section, Derogatis criticizes the music scene and industry observers for treating women in rock special, instead of as they would treat all other (non-female) bands. He seems to feel that this is demeaning in a way and he makes his point well for this being correct.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gregory T. Lytle on November 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
'Milk It!: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosions of the '90s' is both trite and unwarranted. For a man who seemingly wants to be so controversial, why does he devote the bulk of his attacks on bands that even mainstream audiences do not pay attention to anymore? Was bashing Hootie and the Blowfish and Third Eye Blind ever controversial? Even among non-music critics, taking Britney Spears and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to task are fabulous wastes of time.

Worse is when he reveals his puzzling ignorance of musicians and bands, here stating that Blind Melon were like "the Grateful Allman Brothers" and there suggesting that Nine Inch Nails were part of the electronica scene that was hyped circa 96/97. If you're like me, you'll find yourself mystified by the bands included in here (has anybody ever given a sh*t about Redd Kross?!) and frustrated with who he leaves out (sure, the book is hopelessly biased toward the first 5 years of the decade, but how do you call yourself a critic of the 90s and not include a single article that does more than mention Pavement, Radiohead, and Beck in passing?)

If you need more reason to dislike Jim DeRogatis, I recommend 'Turn On Your Mind!: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock.' Just like 'Milk It!', it's an ill-informed tome of idiocy. (See the part where he insults the Grateful Dead! Oooo!) Not only that, it somehow manages to make psychedelic rock boring and comes off as one giant handjob to P.M. Dawn, surely one of the stupidest and most forgettable bands of the 90s.

Jim DeRogatis is a man who badly wants to matter, idolizing Lester Bangs and Wire enough to write a book about the former and start a cover band of the latter. The problem? He's not a good writer, he picks easy targets, and his controversial opinions are (though I shudder to use the term) retarded. Further proof? He likes Sinead O' Connor and dismisses Guided By Voices as being like NRBQ(!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Brough VINE VOICE on July 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jim DeRogatis has written some pretty neat articles. He's also written some self-indulgent hogswill. That's all part of the fun in being paid to write about stuff that you truly love. And believe me, as a former paid rock writer and radio programmer, it's easy to get thoroughly wrapped up in the waves of emotion that feed the profit machine...and the profit machine wants you emotional, because that keeps you from expecting much for compensation. It is what makes the best rock writers so hilariously dramatic (like DeRogatis' hero, Lester Bangs) and often makes their writing pointlessly dorky (like DeRogatis bashing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

"Milk It" (the title copped from Nirvana) is a collection of JD's columns for numerous papers and magazines he's contributed to, and attempts to expound of what was great about music in the 90's. Which is centered mostly into pre and post Kurt Cobain, sometimes maddeningly so. There is WAY too much here that focuses on Cobain, Courtney and the general notion that Nirvana was the focus of all things in the decade. Which may be true, but a little pruning would have been to "Milk It's" benefit, or even a little updating/rewriting of some of the columns. But you do get one of the finest of the Nirvana articles to focus on the aftermath, the great Spin story of "The Nirvana Wars" in which all parties get to rip at each other with abandon.

The other good moments are when DeRogatis takes on the R.E.M. hype machine around the time of "New Adventures In High-Fi," verbally spars with Third Eye Blind's Stephen Jenkins, and exposes the hypocrisy surrounding many writers' defense of N.W.A.'s hate-for-cash scum-scam.
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