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The Residents - George And James CD (album) cover


The Residents



2.67 | 25 ratings

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2 stars This album was to be the first volume in a series of albums by The Residents called "American Composers Series" which was be a long string of albums released from 1984 to 2000 profiling and deconstructing songs from a group of famous songwriters. There just wasn't enough money to fund this expensive endeavor and only 2 albums were released. This album features two very different composers that have nothing to do with each other.....George Gerswin and James Brown....yep, there you go, The Residents offbeat humor once again.

So, yeah, deconstructing George Gerswin and James Brown, sounds like a difficult job to strip selected works from these excellent prolific composers down to the basic bare bones played mostly on keyboards and electronics, and it's an excess of minimalism, another example of The Residents humor. All dynamics, feeling and flourish ripped away to produce flat sounding music performed badly all on purpose. Quite hilarious at first, but it grows old long before it's over. This is humor taken to extreme to where it isn't even funny anymore, but you got to fill space right, so it continues and the joke remains throughout the album.

"Rhapsody in Blue" maintains most of the main themes which many will recognize throughout the 10 minute deconstruction of this normally emotional and beautiful composition. It's all played cheaply on cheesy keyboards, kind of lampooning electronic artists like Tomita and Wendy Carlos who did the same kind of thing, but were completely serious about it. This classical/jazz fusion masterpiece becomes one of the cheesiest songs ever. They also destroy "I Got Rhythm" as they strip away all of the rhythm and most of the syncopation from this jazz standard. Then they take on the famous aria from "Porgy and Bess" called "Summertime" and remove all of the sultriness and emotion from the song and turn it into blandness with a lot of dissonance mixed in. At least there is some interplay with a piano here.

The 2nd part of the album takes on side one of the album "James Brown at the Apollo". All of the fun and emotion and excitement is sucked right out of the vocals and delivered in a deep voice in complete deadpan stereo for you deconstructive enjoyment. Again, very funny at first, and after that only funny because it continues on all the way through without letting up. This is what James Brown would have sounded like if he had no soul. In fact, the background singers have more soul in this album than the fake James Brown. Oh, and this version of James Brown can't sing either. The crowd noise is also electronic.

I can't say this is a very loving tribute and maybe it's only making fun of the many bad tribute albums out there, which is what I tend to believe. Whatever it is, it is very funny, but it wears out quickly. Maybe it would have been better to have an album full of tributes to different artists done poorly instead of just choosing 2 artists at a time. The next album in the series features.....can you guess? John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams. Yeah I know. Anyway, this is more of a novelty item than anything else. Makes me wonder what other artists were going to get The Residents treatment....I'm sure Dark Side of the Moon would have been in there somewhere. Sorry guys....only 2 stars this time....but the first time around, it is a funny study in minimalism, but after the first time, it is only annoying.

TCat | 2/5 |


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