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The Residents - Freak Show CD (album) cover


The Residents



2.83 | 32 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars "Freak Show" is a 1990s Residents album and by this time they were exploring very different concepts. This is a definitive concept album about a circus show of freaks and one of the most disturbing albums I have heard. Definitely not to be played at night.

'Everyone Comes to the Freak Show' opens proceedings with an announcer "roll up rollup and welcome" and some dissonant music to add to the feeling of dementia. 'Harry the Head' has a gorgeous female singer and some repetitive chanting about poor harry and his head. On my 2006 version this is followed by 'Herman watches TV' which is a couple having sex while watching TV it sounds like, and then a crowd applauses. 'Herman the Human Mole' is a low key nasal vocal similar to that heard on most Residents albums, and lots of synths droning.

'Wanda does her act' is an addition on the 2006 version, an announcer with repulsive glee introduces the slug woman; this is grisly stuff and the music is ascending synths layered over. 'Wanda the Worm Woman' is a narrative as Wanda hypnotises the crowd, with her "Mona Lisa smile", and dances up a storm and picks off her worms to some disturbing music. The female voice is again a nice touch breaking up the usual male nasal intonations.

'Jack amuses the crowd' is another addition to this release, basically an announcer, crowd laughter and weird samba music. 'Jelly Jack the Boneless Boy' has an oddball chant and some jelly like vocals warbling. The boy lives inside a jar, people stare, "eyeballs in a pool of flesh surrounded by some hair." Jack wishes he was a cowboy and we hear his thoughts about a possible life, but he is stuck in a jar. He wants to "look down and laugh at all the silly humans as they trudge around". However every night he realises he is entrapped in his jelly form. The pitchy choir that sings has a nursery rhyme feel, but this is certainly one of the more disturbing songs from Residents. A voice speaks, "Sucking sections of my soul, salivate and drool and press against itself."

Brrrrrrrrr...I need a break from this.

OK I am back and listening to 'Benny Bounces', yet another addition, the announcer and some circus music are heard. It is quite funny really when the jaunty rhythms of 'Benny the Bouncing Bump' come in. this is a long 6 minute piece of mirth. The lyrics are still unsettling about Benny who is just a lump of flesh and has to bounce to move around and people laugh at him and "stood and stared". Benny collects girly magazines, "he kept them all in plastic bags and everybody said that Benny talked to them at night before he went to bed". The music moves into a atonal synth and eerie flourishes. The high pitched voices are disturbing, then a gruff Louisiana accent is heard, a parody of Americana.

'Mickey the Mumbling Midget' is announced next and then very odd music with dramatic bass and drum is heard. The music lurches into a rhythmic Samba percussion sound, and more high pitched voices echoed by a narrator.

'Lillie' is a 7 minute track, and I wondered what was her freakish problem as it is not stated in the title. I soon found out. Little Lillie grosses out audiences by regurgitating things such as coins. Her face is "too white, like a corpse in sunshine". We hear Lillie talking about all sorts of nonsense and then there is a rocked up section as heavy as Residents get as far as tempo. She sounds deranged and screams out her hatred.

'Nobody Laughs When They Leave' closes the Freak Show with a statement shrouded in a metaphor "life is a lot like a freak show as Nobody Laughs When They Leave". I can guarantee that sentiment too with this album. This is as chilling and demented as it gets.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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