Milk n' Honey

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973-74)  

- Ian North (aka Darkjet) (RIP 2021) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Michael Ruiz -- drums, percussion

- Justin Strauss -- vocals

- Jay Weiss -- bass


  line up 2 (1974-75)  

NEW - Sal Maida -- bass (replaced Jay Weiss)

- Ian North (aka Darkjet) (RIP 2021) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Michael Ruiz -- drums, percussion

- Justin Strauss -- vocals


  line up 2 (1975)  

- Sal Maida -- bass (replaced Jay Weiss)

- Michael Ruiz -- drums, percussion

- Justin Strauss -- vocals





- A/Jus/Ted (Justin Strauss)

- The Breakaways (Michael Ruiz)

- Paul Collins Band (Michael Ruiz)

- Each Other (Justin Strauss)

- Eva Electro (Ian North)

- Extra Credit (Justin Strauss)

- Neo (Ian North)

Ian North (solo efforts)

- Osaka Popstar (Sal Maida)

- The John Sally Ride (Sal Maida)

- Justin Strauss (solo efforts)

- Trading Places (Justin Strauss)

- Whatever/Whatever (Justin Strauss)






Genre: power pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Milk 'N' Cookies

Company: Island

Catalog:  ILPS 9320

Country/State: Woodmere, Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original custom inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $100.00

This is a band and an album that get strong reviews for a host of reviewers.  Power pop fans like it.  Punk fans like it.  Top-40 radio fans like it.  And against that backdrop I was thrilled to find a cheap copy.  It was one of those albums I really wanted to like it.  And my initial feeling were ...  disappointment.  These guys came off as preppy brats who were simply trying to hard.  Hard to adequately describe it.  Imagine The Ramones with a longing for the ability to perform true power pop.  Perhaps Eric Carmen and The Raspberries deciding they wanted to become the school's real nasty boys?  In spite of moments, it just struck me as being forced and contrived.  By the way, the "young" cheerleader the were all oogling ...  well she looked like she could have kicked all of their butts collectively.  She probably should have.


Calling Long Island home, Ian North started what would become Milk 'n' Cookies while still in high school.  Finding a kindred spirit in guitarist Jay Weiss, they started playing together, quicklyrecruiting drummer Mike Ruiz.  As a trio they recorded a couple of demos and began playing parties, dances, and local clubs.  Weiss shifted to bass and singer Justin Strauss was brought to their attention by a friend of the band.  After starting out on backing vocals, he eventually took over lead vocals. The band then found an early supporter/mentor in the form of manager John Hewlett (then handing Sparks).  After suggesting Weiss be replaced by former Roxy Music bassist Sal Maida (the band complied with the suggestion), Hewlett arranged for them to travel to the UK where they auditioned for Muff Winwood.  Winwood signed the group to Island Records, releasing a single in the UK and various European markets:

- 1975's 'Little Lost and Innocent' b/w 'Good Friends' (Island catalog number WIP 6222)


When the single flopped, Island put a hold on releasing their planned debut album.  Uncertain how to market the band (shades of Island's work with Sparks) Island just sat on the collection.  North and company started looking for another label to release the collection, but publicity from a series of shows at New York's legendary CBGBs saw Island release the set. 


Finally released in 1975, the Muff Winwood-produced "Milk 'n' Cookies" serves as an example of what could have been. Released a bit too late to take advantage of the buying public's fling with bubblegum pop and glam, they were also too early and musically competent to register with early punk aficionados, or power-pop fans. From a talent standpoint there guys were loaded.   In addition to handling lead guitar and keyboards, North was responsible for penning all eleven tracks.  Material like '(Dee, Dee You're) Stuck On A Star' and '' clearly showed North's affection for punk energy, but it was tempered by an equally strong affection for '60s rock and pop ('We Go On Dancing').  The Madia-Ruiz rhythm section was solid.  And then there was lead singer Strauss.  Honestly I found his breathy, "little boy" voice to be irritating.  He just came off sounding snotty and conceited (I'm sure it was an act and he was actually a great guy).   Unfortunately, in case you couldn't figure it out from the album cover, these guys focus was on thing -  teenage lust.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Little, Lost And Innocent', 'Rabbits Make Love' and 'Not Enough Girls (In The World' North's affection for young girls didn't exactly make things more likeable.  Certainly nothing wrong with that subject, unless you happen to be the father of a young woman. Still, unless you were a horny 17 year old guy the snarky attitude quickly became irritating and these guys weren't about to win any prizes in the literature world.  Check out 'Not Enough Girls (In The World).'   


"Milk 'n; Cookies" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) (Dee, Dee You're) Stuck On A Star Little   (Ian North) -   rating: **** stars

Apparently intended as a homage to Dee Dee Ramone (Milk 'n' Cookies were big fans of The Ramones and vice versa), '(Dee, Dee You're) Stuck On A Star Little' opened the album with a near perfect mix of power-pop energy and skittish, punk-ish influences. It was also one of the few songs to have a subject other than lust for young girls.  Nice Ian North lead guitar throughout.  In fact, the only complaint is the song was too short.  YouTube has a brief, but energetic performance of the tune from an April 2007 reunion at the Brooklyn PowerPop Fesitval.  No Ian North; Julian Maile on lead guitar: (Dee Dee You're) Stuck on a Star - MILK 'n' COOKIES - YouTube

2.) Little, Lost And Innocent    (Ian North) -   rating: *** stars

While I liked the rollicking, jangle-rock melody, exemplified by 'Little, Lost And Innocent' Justin Strauss's "little boy" voice was a source of irritation to my ears.  I've never figured out whether he simply sounds trapped in puberty, or smash his hand in a car door.  As mentioned earlier,  Island released the track as a European single, but didn't bother with an American release.  The sound qualify is crap, but here's another performance from their 2007 reunion: Milk 'N Cookies at South Paw 2007 Little Lost and Innocent - YouTube   

3.) Six Guns    (Ian North) -    rating: *** stars

How to describe 'Six Guns'?  Imagine The Raspberries deciding to cop a "bad boys" attitude?   The start and stop structure was kind of cool and the Sal Maida - Michael Ruiz rhythm section aptly showcased their talents, but there was something contrived about the whole exercise.

4.) We Go On Dancing    (Ian North) -     rating: *** stars

'We Go On Dancing' found Milk 'n' Cookies showing off their sensitive side ...  Weird '60s girl group feel, but thankfully the song was brief.

5.) Rabbits Make Love    (Ian North) -     rating: *** stars

The album's weirdest tune, 'Rabbits Make Love' was about as subtle as a car crash. The tune did have some awesome Maida bass. 

6.) Not Enough Girls (In The World)   (Ian North) -    rating: **** stars

Ian North wasn't going to win any awards for clever lyrics, but 'Not Enough Girls (In The World) was probably the album's most commercial and enjoyable performance.  Anyone ever bothered to count the number of times the title is repeated?   I counted 26  As mentioned before, In spite of all the bravado, I suspect most girls would have been able to slap the crap out of these guys.




For hardcore fans, in 2014 Mike Sniper's Brooklyn-based Captured Records released the song as a single:


- 2014's 'Not Enough Girls (In the World' b/w 'Nots' (Captured catalog number CT-194)




(side 2)

1.) Chance To Play   (Ian North) -   rating: **** stars

Side two started out with the same subject matter, but one of the album's tougher arrangements and a great refrain.  Would have made a good choice as a single.

2.) The Last Letter   (Ian North) -  rating: **** stars

Another one of the album's stronger melodies and once again Maida got a chance to showcase his melodic bass.

3.) Just A Kid   (Ian North) -   rating: *** stars

To my ears 'Just A Kid' reached the "starts-to-sound-the-same" point of no return and Strauss' voice had definitely outlasted its welcome.

4.) Ready Steady   (Ian North) -   rating: *** stars

Seriously, were the sighs necessary?  Extra star for the synthesizer bass burps.

5.) Nots Broken Melody  (Ian North) -   rating: *** stars

Jangle rock-ish closer should have scratched an itch, but was another okay performance.  Not bad, but not great.




Island did little to promote the collection which quickly flopped.  The band began planning efforts to record a follow-up album, but Island essentially killed the band when they offered North a solo deal.  North took the deal, moving to the UK where he formed Ian's Radio which morphed into Neo.  Over the years he recorded several solo efforts before suffering a heart attack and passing away in February 2021.  The remaining members recorded a couple of half-hearted demos with Maida subsequently joining Sparks and then moving into the sessions world.  Ruiz joined the Paul Collins' Beat.  Strauss moved into production and DJing.