Milk (song)

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Single by Garbage
from the album Garbage
B-side "Alien Sex Fiend"
Released October 7, 1996
(See release history)
Format 7", 12",
CD maxi, cassette single
Recorded April 1994–May 1995
Smart Studios,
Madison, Wisconsin
Genre Original version: Alternative rock, trip hop, electronica
Siren/Wicked remix: Alternative rock, trip hop, electronica, downtempo, dream pop
Length 3:56
Label Mushroom Records UK
Almo Sounds (North America)
Writer(s) Garbage
Producer(s) Garbage
Garbage singles chronology
"Stupid Girl"
"#1 Crush"
Alternative cover
Australian cover-art
Music video
"Milk" on YouTube

"Milk" is a 1996 single written, recorded and produced by alternative rock group Garbage. "Milk" was issued as the fifth and final single to be taken from the band's multi-platinum debut album Garbage. In North America, the single coincided with Garbage's trek around the continent performing as a support act for the Smashing Pumpkins arena tour.[1]

A brand new reworked version of "Milk" was released in the United Kingdom, featuring backing vocals by UK trip hop musician Tricky.[2] After an acclaimed performance of "Milk" by the band at the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards, as well as winning the "Breakthrough" award on the night; "Milk" debuted at #10 on the UK Singles Chart.[3] The reworked version, without Tricky's vocals, was also released as a single across Europe and in Australia and New Zealand.[4]

In 2007, "Milk" was remastered and included on Garbage's greatest hits album Absolute Garbage.[5]

Song history[edit]

"Milk" was written and recorded by Garbage (Duke Erikson, Shirley Manson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig) at their own recording studio during the 1994-1995 sessions for Garbage. Manson was inspired by a line in Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid ("her throat is a kitchen") and alluded to it in her lyrics for the song.[6] At its base, Manson believed the song was "a seduction, almost like a siren song".[7]

The most electronic based song on the album, "Milk" is also one of singer Shirley Manson's favourite tracks from it. She told Melody Maker "It's a dichotomy, a paradox. The thing I really like about "Milk" is the fact that it's been dismissed by people as the ballad at the end of the album. To me "Milk" is the darkest, most hopeless of the songs. People say 'Oh, it's lovey-dovey, so therefore it's a love song'. But it's a very bleak song, it's about loss and the fear of loss; about things you can't have and things you will forever wait for."[8]

Remix collaboration[edit]

After Garbage's fifth single "Stupid Girl" had been released internationally, the band's record label were considering what the follow-up single would be; at one point "Supervixen", "Fix Me Now" and "Milk" were all in the frame. The band performed a headline concert at New York's Roseland Ballroom in mid-April 1996 and were joined at the aftershow by British trip hop musician Tricky. The two groups hung out for the night, and decided to collaborate on a duet version of "Milk" featuring both Shirley and Tricky on vocals.[9] In early May, the two acts spent a session in Chicago's CRC Studios working on the new version.[10] The session was setback with numerous glitches including a malfunctioning tape machine and a mixing console caught fire.[10] Manson found the experience of working with a male vocalist "enchanting and illuminating".[11]

Internet rumours abounded that the session had been a disaster, with the band's audio engineer claiming the results were not as expected, and that Tricky himself had been difficult to work with.[10] The band's manager disputed the reported events, placing blame on problems at the recording studio. The band eventually put out a press statement to deny the rumours stating that the session had in fact gone well, the rework of "Milk" was still a work in progress and that further production by both Tricky and Garbage was required.[10] Tricky finished his duet version of "Milk" in New York's Platinum Island Studios; Garbage completed their own guitar-led version of "Milk" in Madison during a break in their world tour.[12] Garbage's rework was finished in two versions; the first was titled the Siren mix and featured only Manson's vocal; the second also incorporated Tricky's vocal and was titled the Wicked mix.[2] Tricky took exception to Garbage releasing their own version as a single instead of his, and complained about the situation to the press.

Single release[edit]

"Milk" was first released as a single in Australia and New Zealand by Mushroom Records imprint label White. The single was released on October 7, 1996 on CD and cassette single and featured the Siren mix as the a-side, and was backed up with the Wicked mix, Tricky's remix and the original album version.[13] The single coincided with the band's first live dates in both countries, which saw the release of a tour edition of the album reach #4 on the ARIA charts[14] and #1 on the RIANZ chart.[15] Garbage made their first televised performance on Australian television on Hey Hey It's Saturday performing the single. A second "Milk" CD single was subsequently issued to stores containing the b-side "Alien Sex Fiend", the band's own house mix of "Dog New Tricks", and remixes of "Milk", "Stupid Girl" and "Queer" by Rabbit In the Moon, Todd Terry and Danny Saber respectively.[16] "Milk" debuted on the Australian singles chart at the start of November at #48; the single then recharted in December and peaked at #44.[17] In New Zealand, "Milk" spent a week at #50.[18]

The Wicked remix of "Milk" featuring Tricky impacted UK radio stations in mid-October 1996 and was A-listed by both Radio 1 and Virgin Radio.[19] "Milk" subsequently reached #19 on the airplay chart.[19] Mushroom pre-empted the UK release of "Milk" by issuing three limited "taster" 12" singles through HMV stores at the end of October; the actual commercial release was on November 11. Two CD singles and a limited edition 7" vinyl were distributed to stores, each featuring the Wicked mix, and with remixes of "Milk" by Massive Attack, Goldie, Tricky and Rabbit in The Moon, and remixes of "Stupid Girl" by Danny Saber and Todd Terry spread across the formats.[4] During the week of release, Garbage won the Breakthrough award and performed "Milk" live at the MTV Europe Music Awards in London. "Milk" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at #10.[3] This was the band's second top ten hit in the United Kingdom.[20] To mark the high position, Garbage performed a live videolink performance of the song from Atlanta for broadcast on Top of The Pops. "Milk" spent eight weeks on the UK charts; and sold over 135,000 copies.[21]

In North America, Almo Sounds released the album version of "Milk" to Triple A radio stations and commercially on maxi-CD and maxi-cassette on November 12;[22] both formats contained the Siren and Wicked mixes as well as a version by Rabbit In the Moon.[23] Almo sent additional Rabbit In the Moon mixes to nightclubs from November 18.[24] Modest airplay and single sales of "Milk" led to the song registering at #18 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles, a chart which shows the most popular songs in the United States that haven't yet reached the Hot 100.[25] At the same time "Milk" was released in North America, a remix of the band's early b-side "#1 Crush" had gained considerable airplay at alternative radio stations.[26] "#1 Crush" eventually reached #1 on the alternative charts in United States[27] and Canada;[28] and top forty on the airplay charts at the start of January 1997.[29] The same week, "Milk" re-entered the Bubbling Under listing at #15 and peaked a week later at #6.[30] "Milk" spent another six weeks declining before dropping off the chart at the end of February.[31]

In May 1997, Mushroom Records released a set of four commercial 12" vinyl remix sets to record stores in the United Kingdom. All were packaged in black card sleeves and included mixes of "Queer", "Stupid Girl", and two of "Milk". The first "Milk" vinyl contained three remixes by Massive Attack remixes and the second contained two of Goldie's remixes..


Music video[edit]

The promo clip for "Milk" was filmed on August 19 in London and directed by Stéphane Sednaoui for Propaganda Films. It was ready to air on August 28. Sednaoui filmed the entire sequence in a single tracking shot set to the album version of the song. So the footage could be used for a remix version of the video, Sednaoui created a second version of the video using close up shots of Manson to insert into the footage. This montage edit was dubbed with both the Siren remix and Wicked remix for international airplay.

Manson features heavily in the "Milk" video; standing solitary within a blue wind tunnel and backed with red spotlights and white strobing. During the choruses, the camera pans away to each of the male members of Garbage. As it ends, the blue is replaced with green shades, and the camera moves to Manson, ending on a small disco ball held in Manson's hand.

The "Milk" video was first commercially released on VHS and Video-CD on 1996's Garbage Video.[32] A remastered version, re-cut to the remix version, was included on Garbage's 2007 greatest hits DVD Absolute Garbage.[5] Neither the Siren or Wicked mix versions of the video have been commercially released.

Alternate versions[edit]

Track title Length Remixer/Producer
"Milk (Full Siren mix)" 4:17 Garbage
"Milk (Siren mix)" 4:02
"Milk (Wicked mix)" (featuring Tricky) 4:02
"Milk (Completely Trashed mix)" 6:31 Goldie
"Milk (VIP Rufige Trash Your Shit mix)" 7:38
"Milk (Classic remix)" 4:47 Massive Attack
"Milk (D mix)" 4:50
"Milk (Trance mix)" 7:47
"Milk (Butchered Vegas mix)" 5:49 Rabbit in the Moon
"Milk (Got It mix)" 9:33
"Milk (Udder remix)" 4:49
"Milk (Utter edit)" 4:23
"Milk (Tricky remix)" 4:19 Tricky

A month before the commercial release of "Milk" in the United Kingdom, Mushroom released a three-part 12" set as a "taster release". These vinyls were limited to 500 copies each and came in a die-cut embossed card sleeve (one leather look, one gravel, one rippled), each with a different Dayglo colour inner sleeve.[4] Of Massive Attack release, the "D Mix" featured a 22-piece live orchestra. The 14,000 copy limited edition 7" vinyl format came housed in a white ripple-effect card sleeve, with a videogram image mounted on front, and a nine-panel white and blood red poster within.[4]

David Christophere, who produced under the name of Rabbit In the Moon, was solicited to remix Garbage by Butch Vig himself, through DJ Jason Bentley, after hearing Christophere's work on Sarah McLachlan's "Fear". He remixed Milk, which was his preferred choice, after completing versions of both "Queer" and "Stupid Girl". Christophere produced two versions of "Milk"; one downtempo ("Butchered Vegas mix"), and one in a club style ("Got It mix"), utilizing Mansons breathing vocal track over a house beat inspired by Deep Dish. Christophere sampled sounds from various sources, such as Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Madonna, Plastikman, Portishead and musical cues from Monty Python and Halloween in his mixes.

Release history[edit]

Release Date Territory Record Label Format(s)
October 7, 1996 Australia White Records 2×CD single set, cassette single
October 23, 1996 United Kingdom Mushroom Records UK 12" vinyl (Rabbit in The Moon mixes)
October 28, 1996 12" vinyl (Goldie mixes)
November 4, 1996 12" vinyl (Massive Attack mixes)
November 11, 1996 7" single, 2×CD single set
Europe BMG 2×CD maxis
November 12, 1996 United States Almo Sounds Airplay
November 19, 1996 CD maxi, cassette single
May 5, 1997 United Kingdom Mushroom Records UK 2×12" vinyls (as Milk Remixes)

Comprehensive charts[edit]

^ A Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles lists the top twenty-five singles which had not, at the time of publishing, charted on the Hot 100 chart. "Milk" technically reached #18 in 1996,[25] and #6 upon re-entry in 1997 on this chart.[30]
^ B The UK release of "Milk" was credited as "Garbage featuring Tricky"; an import version of the single, credited only to Garbage, charted at #74 on the UK Singles Chart for a single week from January 18, 1997. The same week, the original UK pressing was listed at #85.[35]

Credits and Personnel[edit]

  • Music: Garbage
  • Lyrics: Garbage
  • Produced: Garbage
  • Performed & mixed: Garbage
  • 2nd Engineer: Mike Zirkel
  • Vocals : Shirley Manson
  • Keyboards : Duke Erikson
  • Samples & Loops: Steve Marker
  • Drums : Butch Vig
  • Bass: Mike Kashou
  • Recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. ^ Abbot, Ian. "Garbage - August 1996 News". Archived from the original on 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  2. ^ a b Milk (Press release page 1). Mushroom. 1996. 
  3. ^ a b c "TOP 40 OFFICIAL UK SINGLES ARCHIVE (23rd November 1996)". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d Davis, Andy (1997). Three Men and A Babe; Welcome to Spooner Town; Goodbye Angelfish (#209 ed.). London: Record Collector. 
  5. ^ a b "New Best Of Album". Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  6. ^ My Life in Books: Musician Shirley Manson on the literature that has shaped her life. Elle. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  7. ^ "Garbage O-Zone interview (November 1996)". BBC. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  8. ^ "Melody Maker" Issue November 96 (accessed October 10th, 2006)
  9. ^ Abbot, Ian (24 April 1996). "Garbage News - April 1996 - Garbage and Tricky to collaborate". Archived from the original on 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  10. ^ a b c d Abbott, Ian. "Garbage News - May 1996 News". Archived from the original on 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  11. ^ "Modern Life is Rubbish". The Face. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  12. ^ Milk (press release page 2). Mushroom Records. 1996. 
  13. ^ Rob, Watson. "Milk OZ CD1". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  14. ^ "Garbage - Garbage (Album)". Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  15. ^ "Garbage - Garbage (album)". Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  16. ^ Watson, Rob. "Milk OZ CD2". Garbage-Discography. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  17. ^ a b ""Milk" - Garbage". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  18. ^ a b "Garbage - Milk". Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  19. ^ a b Garbage Album Campaign History. Mushroom Records (NCM Group). 2001. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  20. ^ "Artist Chart History; GARBAGE; TOP 75 RELEASES". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  21. ^ Music Week, March 29, 1998 issue
  22. ^ "Milk / Garbage". United States Copyright Office. 1996-11-12. Retrieved 2011-07-27. SR0000227767; Milk / Garbage; AMSDS 89007; 4 versions; ℗ Almo Sounds, Inc. 
  23. ^ Watson, Rob. "Milk (USA CD1)". Garbage-Discography. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  24. ^ "Milk ; Queer / Garbage.". United States Copyright Office. 1996-11-18. Retrieved 2007-07-27. SR0000231063; Milk; Queer / Garbage; 33 1/3 rpm; 12 in; ℗ Almo Sounds, Inc. 
  25. ^ a b c Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Billboard, issue dated December 7th 1996, reproduced on Google Books. 1996-12-07. 
  26. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (1996). Between the Bullets. Billboard. 
  27. ^ Hot Modern Rock Tracks. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1997, reproduced on Google Books. 1997-01-11. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  28. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 64, No. 20, January 20, 1997". RPM. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Billboard Hot 100 Airplay. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1997, reproduced on Google Books. 1997-01-11. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  30. ^ a b c Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1996, reproduced on Google Books. 
  31. ^ Bubbling Under Hot 100. Billboard. 1997-02-22. 
  32. ^ ""The Screens Are Full of Garbage", Melody Maker, issue dated December 7, 1996" Retrieved - 2008-02-05
  33. ^ a b "Die ganze Musik im Internet (Garbage - Milk)". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Chart Top 100; 17 November 1996 - 23 November 1996". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2015-02-22. 
  35. ^ a b "Chart Log UK: Gina G – GZA". Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  36. ^ 1997 Árslistinn (in Icelandic). Föstudagar. 1998-01-02. pp. 16–18. 

External links[edit]