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The Residents - CUBE E, The History of Amerian Music in 3-EZ Pieces  CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.33 | 3 ratings

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3 stars This era was my starting point with this unique band. I picked up a copy of 'The King And Eye' after reading a review, in Rolling Stone of all places, and was intrigued by what they described and I fell in love with their unusual take on the Elvis myth. Imagine my horror when a couple days later I read a review of their Cube-E show which had just taken place two nights before (oh the bitterness of bad timing). I felt and still feel that I had missed a once in a lifetime event. This set contains the complete concert from this tour as well as a DVD of moments from this show released at various times.

Those new to The Residents will wonder what the fuss is, but as an avid follower of them I find it to be pure brilliance. The show tracks the history of music through the following equation COWBOY MUSIC + BLACK HYMS = ELVIS. Constructed in three sets, it follows this pattern beginning with Buckaroo Blues, which was a work that they had been putting together for a number of years. The music is structured as a campfire tale, the music is clean and minimal, yet very charming, especially Theme From Buckaroo Blues and Cowboy Waltz, which shows that The Residents can really do nice melodic music. The singing Resident tells a tale of betrayal, murder and regret with a lot of passion and the piece works as a complete song cycle. When I return to this, I find this is the section I listen to the most.

Black Barry, the hymn section, is much more ominous, at moments, it comes close to being horrifying. It starts with some discordant chating and escalates into the nightmare circus of Shortnin' Bread. From there it escalates until the runaway train of Organism. Between them there are some beautiful, but much darker moods created, more reminiscant of their Mole saga. Uncomprimising, but ultimately uplifting

The main purpose of this show is the Elvis review, The Baby King. Unlike The King And Eye, the music here is more minimal and the singing much more tortured. It begins with Ober, an overture of sorts which not only summons the granduer of the Elvis myth, but also manages to sum up the Residents style in an amazing pastiche of pomp and ridiculousness. Everything here is amped up, from the grotesque marionettes of the kids on grandpa's knee to the piercing shriek and gasp of Teddy Bear. This feels like a singer who digging deep to the bottom of his soul to escape hell and trying desperately to find grace. It all ends with Elvis screaming Love Me Tender as a loop of the Beatles singing Blue Suede Shoes drives in the final stake.

Unfortunately, they never fully documented this extremelly visual show during its run, so we are left with only brief glimpses of what they had achieved from various clips that showed up on European television. Where The Residents really shine is in their visual interpretation, especially with Buckaroo Blues, which features sillouhetted cowboys on enormously exageratted 40 gallon hats performing around a neon campfire. The way the singing Resident has an exageratted neon mouth and pinlight eyes gives the whole thing an unsettling feel. The Black Barry section is only show briefly in rehearsal, but the black girls with tattered neon parasols shadowed against bright red background gives us a hint of what was missed. The King himself is done up in garish day-glo colors with an exagerrated pompadour with firery light raging up behind him in Burnin' Love. I feel grateful that anything exists, but saddened that there isn't more.

Truly, the only disappointment is the pricing on this limited release. At $99 it feels too slight for the price, especially considering the better quality of their other releases. For those on a budget, I would more recommend the out=of=print Cube-E: Live in Holland disc, which contains a condensed version of this show. The show warrants 4 stars, but the price and value drives it down to 3.

DantesRing | 3/5 |


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