Shifting musical styles the way some people change addresses, singer/songwriter Alan Milman first surfaced on New York’s Long Island in 1977, with a 7-inch EP of tossed-off punk-rock jokes. Dropping the beat-era name for the modernized Man-ka-zam handle, Milman and guitarist Doug Khazzam returned a year later with another 7-inch: four derivative new wave tunes (including “Spankathon” and “Surf Rhapsody”). That was Milman’s last vinyl for a while.
Opting for a lower-profile role as a songwriter, co-producer and backing vocalist, Milman let the pseudonymous Buddy Love (Khazzam, using a name borrowed from Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor alter-ego) sing lead and play guitar on the exceptional Buddy Love, a charming and memorable pop/rock collection that knowingly mines a wide variety of sources, from ’50s rockabilly to ’60s Britbeat to ’70s glam. Besides covering Gary Glitter (“Rock n’ Roll”), Gene Vincent (“Who Slapped John?”) and Buddy Holly (“Rave On”) with straightforward skill, the quartet delivers sparkling pop originals like the ultra-catchy “Liar,” “Why Can’t We Make Believe We’re in Love?” and “Dead Ringer.” Virtually unknown, but great.
Five years later, Milman popped up in the garage-rocking Duck and the Ponds, where his tuneless shout (not for nothing is he billed as Howlin Alan Milman) suits such generic stompers as “Wanna Ruin Ya” and “Wild About You.” The noisy and echo-laden Lost World isn’t bad (in fact, the poppish “Wrong” and “On the Corner Again” are pretty neat), but — other than having convinced a British tabloid of their kidnapping by space aliens, who ostensibly helped write the album’s songs — the trio hasn’t got any distinguishing characteristics.