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3 stars This album was my first introduction to The Residents. I read a brief review of it in Rolling Stone magazine (3 stars) and it sounded intriguing. When I put it on it blew my mind. In hindsight, it is one of their more average releases, one that I barely listen too.

The third in their American composer series (Stars & Hank, George & James are the others), The King & Eye tackles the largest target of pop music, Elvis Presley. The concept of the album was to strip down the uptempo favorites we all know, and to give it music more appropriate to the down lyrics, bringing out the angst and depravity that seemed to be truly lurking beneath.

It starts out extremelly strong with a wicked rendition of 'Blue Suede Shoes' that gets more frantic and hysterical as the track progresses. It is IMO the best example of what The Residents were trying with this project, and one of their most classic tunes. "Heartbreak Hotel' (with it's "I'm so lonely I could Diiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee! howl) and 'Devil In Disguise' (with it's Halloween like keyboard flourishes) are also strong examples. The album reaches it's climax with 'Love Me Tender' performed as Elvis gets more bloated and needy and ends as a loop of The Beatles doing "Blue Suede Shoes" kills the King once and for all.

The best part of this disc is the spoken interludes (sining Resident talking to two small children) that somehow manages to capture the essence of the concept with emotion and sweetness.

Ultimately the disc collapses under the weight of the concept, and the occasional sameness of the tracks (47 min is too long). Best listened to as individual pieces rather than the whole at once. This material was also much better served on their "Cube-E" live album.

I would recommend this as a good introduction to thier music, as the already well-known tunes help to ease the otherness of the music. It is also more melodic and less harsh than some of their earlier classics.

Report this review (#43117)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars You would think, given their history of recording some pretty bizarre cover songs, that The Residents could really make a wild album based on Elvis presley's music, But this album falls short. Way short.

The big problem is synthesizers. Where on earlier albums, The Residents created their own sounds, coming up wi'h pieces where the listener might think "How did they do that?", here the tones are all recognizable synth patches. And the synth patches provide a sameness to the songs, from which 'he band rarely breaks away.

The concept is a man telling the story of Elvis, called here "The Baby King", to two small children. The album was shortened and used as one of the segments of the "Cube-E" live tour. At least here the vocalist doesn't completely wreck the songs by shouting them all in an angry death metal growl. Here he speaks most of them in a cowboy poem sort of style. And the music, for the most part, bears little resemblance to the songs they are representing.

I can't say it's all bad. About two thirds of the way through, the group hits their stride, and Little Sister breaks out of 'he sameness, and becomes an eerie, ominous piece wi'h the dark warning "Little sister don't do what your big sister done". And His Latest Flame also stands out, with one piece of the melody taken out of it's musical context, get's layered and layered into a nice round sort of piece.

So while this is far better than Cube-E, I'd only rate i' 2.5 s'ars. And because it's The Residents, I'll round that up.

Report this review (#343720)
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A far superior album to the vaguely connected 'American Composers' recordings released in the mid 80's, both of which failed miserably (George & James + Stars & Hank - which possibly sported the two worst album sleeves you're likely to see in your lifetime)

Seeing as there's so few reviews for this, I should point out that this is an album of Elvis Presley cover versions.

The King and Eye, however, has a cool smoothness during all tracks and the 'cod' Elvis vocals really grow on you each time you hear it. As is usual with the Residents there's many a deformity and off kilter note throughout.

There are a couple of moments of rare beauty by the Residents on this one in the form of 'A Fool Such as I' and 'Viva Las Vegas'. Up until this point I didn't think the Residents could record anything pretty.

It's certainly not as wonky as their 70's output, but this is far more refined and precise. There are very few guitars present, with mostly keyboards, bass and drum machines which make for a very unusual Presley listening experience. The whole album is full of tunes that I find myself whistling to on my bicycle.

Play it to Elvis fans and you're guaranteed to annoy the hell out of them. THEY WILL HATE THIS! and that's why I love it so much.

Report this review (#456670)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars So, this is a tough one. It is genius and hilarious what The Residents are doing here, but it's hard to tell if they are paying homage to Elvis, or making fun sometimes. This is an album full of Elvis covers, with the typical (usually) minimalistic approach. They dismantle the songs, make them dark, occasionally throw some loud and strange guitar passages in there. Throughout the album, there is some spoken word skits where a person is sitting there telling the story of the King with some children listening in and making comments. KInd of a strange bedtime story.

The covers are interesting, but the album gets old fast. As much as you want to like what you are hearing, the rendering of the songs by what seems to be satirical takes on the music, it tends to run on too long, and it also is not an album you will want to listen to very often. However, hearing the songs this way emphasizes the darkness of some of the lyrics, while with others, the rendering changes the meanings completely. There are some very decent tracks here however, namely "Devil in Disguise", "Little Sister", "His Latest Flame" (with a surprisingly emotional guest vocalist) and "Viva Las Vegas". But the few high points here don't save the overall album.

I am surprised that you don't hear much mention from reviewers, professional or amateur, about how there are suggestions of religious sarcasm here, how there are hints of comparisons with Jesus and God, but if you listen to the story and the way the songs are delivered, surely you will hear this. Just another way The Residents make fun of music and society.

Anyway, it is an interesting concept, but it loses it's appeal after so long and it has a very short appeal as far as returning to the album later. It is kind of fun to play for Elvis fans though and a sick joke. Anyway, we'll give this one 3 stars. Good, but not terrific.

Report this review (#1438994)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2015 | Review Permalink

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