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The Residents Meet The Residents album cover
4.00 | 120 ratings | 17 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Boots (0:54)
2. Numb Erone (1:07)
3. Guylum Bardot (1:19)
4. Breath And Length (1:44)
5. Consuelo's Departure (0:59)
6. Smelly Tongues (1:44)
7. Rest Aria (5:09)
8. Skratz (1:43)
9. Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)
10. Infant Tango (5:28)
11. Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
12. N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues) (7:16)

Total time 38:03

Bonus tracks on 1988 & 2018 reissues:
13. Fire (1:45)
14. Lightning (2:18)
15. Explosion (3:20)
16. Aircraft Damage (3:53)

Line-up / Musicians

- The Residents (anonymous line-up)

- Ruth Essex / vocals (4)
- Wool / vocals (6)
- Pamela Wieking / vocals (9)
- James Whitaker / piano (9)
- Philip Friehofner / oboe (9)
- James Aaron / bass & guitar (10)
- Bob Tangney / bass (10)
- The Human Beinz / performers (12)

Releases information

Artwork: Pore No Graphics

LP Ralph Records ‎- RR0274 (1974, US) Mono audio
LP Ralph Records ‎- RR0677 (1977, US) New cover

CD East Side Digital ‎- ESD 80222 (1988, US) With 4 bonus tracks (1972 "Santa Dog" double-single)
CD East Side Digital ‎- ESD 81222 (1997, US) Remastered
2xCD New Ralph Too ‎- NRT002 (2018, xW) Remastered by Scott Colburn with both Mono (1974) and Stereo (1977) mixes, including 4 bonus tracks plus several Outtakes And Ephemera spread across 2 discs

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE RESIDENTS Meet The Residents ratings distribution

(120 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE RESIDENTS Meet The Residents reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by penguindf12
5 stars This is one of the first times I have really felt a review was truly necessary for me to make. In the others, usually what I think has already been said by many others; this time, I am setting aside social injustice. Two reviews (at the time this was originally written)? What is that? Come on...

AN IMPORTANT NOTICE: There are at least TWO version of this album out there. I myself own the Euro Ralph 2003 Stereo Version and the East Side Digital 1987 Mono Version; this review is for the Stereo Version. The Mono Version includes some additional music CUT OUT of the Stereo Version, but slightly lower production value. All in all, I recommend BOTH versions - they are quite distinct - but the Stereo one is probably better to start out with.

Anyway, most describe this as being "indescribable" or "not explainable" as if it exists in its own universe all on its own. But although the music is certainly "different" and seemingly "influence-less", I think that The Residents, anonymous they may be, are not as godly or peerless as they may appear. In reality, this album sounds to me like the ultimate crystallization of a group of four (or more, or less, who knows?) friends that decided to make an album of their own, from their own sources, and using what they have to do it. When listening to it (and especially even earlier Residents recordings, like "Baby Sex" and "The Warner Bros. Album"), I am reminded of my own stupid home recordings with friends (in fact, just today, while spinning this album, my dad commented "Is that you singing there?"). Of course, The Residents had much more time, dedication, and resources than I do, and you can hear their sound evolve MASSIVELY from the incoherent, half-baked songs on "The Warner Bros. Album" to this masterpiece. Really it all makes sense when you hear their early unreleased work, which is probably why they have gone to such great lengths to prevent the release of that material.

Really "Meet the Residents" is something like my non-musician friends and I (the only musician of the group) would create if isolated for a year or so with only our instruments and recording devices. And that's key: what The Residents lack in talent and ability, they make up for in dedication and determination. The songs and parts on this album are not difficult by any means: the arrangement and thought put into each, however, make them mind-bogglingly complex. This is the opposite of Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" isolationist masterpiece; that album featured brilliant musicians all working toward a goal with an extremely limited and set number of instruments, under a single guiding personality. Much like Yes, The Magic Band sought to use only what they could use live (in fact "Trout Mask" was recorded pretty much entirely live). The Residents, instead, wrote each of these arrangements with a swollen Eye towards detail, then promptly forgot what they did and what they used, in accordance with their "Theory of Obscurity": when performed live, these songs never sound anything like the originals (sadly, they are often simplified & mediocre).

On the subject of instrumentation, The Residents utilize whatever seems to be within reach. Acoustic piano is especially apparent, as are saxophones and other wind instruments (de-tuned for full-blast dissonance in key places), various percussion devices (it almost seems like they purchased half of a drum kit and then ran out of money), tape effects used as a percussion substitute, and, most strange, guitar and bass (only present on "Infant Tango" and "Seasoned Greetings", and even then only sparsely).

The album begins beautifully. A cover of "Boots [are made for walking]" puts their worst foot forward, with nothing more than incoherent vocals, squeaking saxes, a thumb piano, and a cheesy call-and-response. It fades into an altered repetition of the last verse of the song that doesn't match. Truly beauty at its finest - this foreshadows their magnum opus, "Third Reich n' Roll".

The first six songs string together into a suite, with "Numb Erone" fading in from "Boots", utilizing three harmonizing piano parts to make for a fine instrumental that moves from 4/4 to 3/4 halfway through. The piano that is used sounds like it is in serious need of repair; it buzzes and clicks the whole way through.Truthfully, though, it's what makes the song good - the sheerness of the whole thing is wonderfully refreshing.

The buzzing piano part segues into "Guylum Bardot", where it continues to be pounded as wind instruments enter the mix, creating a second melody. Now, anyone in their right mind would get rid of the piano, but this is The Residents; they keep the piano and integrate it fully, limping along in the background. Over this they proceed to lay down a two-person vocal harmony - completely monotone. Really quite complex.

"Breath and Width" is probably the least intriguing section of the suite, featuring unidentifiable tape effects that sound like a fax machine or a furiously upset guitar run through a shredder, accompanied by soothing female vocals, slowly falling out of time with the rest of the music and ending with what would normally be an outtake of laughter.

"Consuelo's Departure" continues with another wind instrument, tape effects- percussion, and piano instrumental, which is joined by a slightly out-of-tune vocal rendition of the theme by a resident with a thick Southern accent (possibly The Residents' strangest attribute - they're from the South!), and transforms into their short opus, "Smelly Tongues". Unidentifiable tape loops, a simple riff, set to "screech" on the amp, and some lounge vocals make this the catchiest bit yet.

After the suite, they focus on longer, arranged and largely instrumental pieces. "Rest Aria" is entirely instrumental, making extensive use of a sizable amount of wind instruments (sax, clarinet, trumpets, bassoon, and/or something) in sparse arrangements, with a prominent piano and tuned percussion. The piece is INCREDIBLY accomplished for such non-musicians: the pianist and saxophonist especially seem to have become passably good at their instruments (i.e., about as good as I can do on them).

"Skratz" stands out, an intriguing attempt at a true "pop" song. One big difference though: the instrumentation is hazily in the background, the vocals are schizophrenic and muddled, the only percussion accompaniment is a hi-hat staggering in the foreground, and the general effect of listening to it the first time is like hearing fingernails on the chalkboard. Okay, so maybe more than one difference.

"Spotted Pinto Bean" is a pseudo-operatic, over-dramatized and very "creatively edited" number with a chorus of female vocalists accompanying a solo virtuosic lounge-style piano for much of the piece. The quick-cut editing made me suspicious at first, but now I accept it as a wonderful experiment in tape manipulation of perceived environment.

"Infant Tango" marks the appearance of two strange instruments: bass and guitar. Truly unexpected. It begins with a grungy vocal and wah-wah guitar, building up into a full blown sax dissonance fest, mocking "THE" traditional funk melody (archetype). Then it goes into yet another arranged instrumental section with piano and saxes. Really wonderful, and very charming.

Perhaps most exemplary of the style of the longer tracks on "Meet the Residents" is "Seasoned Greetings". It begins very department store-like (an AWESOME descriptive term), but soon becomes another wah-wah guitar, sax, and piano instrumental much like the latter half of "Infant Tango", before extending some holiday greetings to the family. I love you too.

"N-er-Gee (Crisis Blues)" is the most piano-banging tune I have ever heard. It is deeply refreshing to hear. A mentally deficient protagonist introduces us to the difficulties of the Christmas season, then proceeds to lay it all down for us on his piano, cluster-chord-with-first style. Then, he decides to put on a surf-rock record and sing along. But the record begins to skip, but no matter: The Residents make the skipping record a musical piece all in itself! Really trippy, too. After another instrumental featuring various tuned percussion instruments and a recorder, the real piano-crunching begins. Run for cover.

The album ends appropriately: all members singing against a backdrop of nothing, "Go home America. Fifty five'll do." (Strangely, this melody is reprised at the very beginning of the album, in barely audible and wordless form) What does it mean? Probably nothing.

Okay, so I changed my mind pretty fast with this one. I originally gave this 4 stars because it "lacked resonance" - but what the hell. It's just very good, refreshing, and fun to hear such irresponsible deconstruction of convention with such disregard for good taste. One must wait until their later work before they decided to do anything with a point outside of doing what they love (although most would say they went to far with THAT, too), but hey, who cares? 5 stars. BUY IT.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Debut album from one of the most outrageous and obscure musical acts to appear in the 20th century music scene! Starting from the mutilated THE BEATLES cover image through the silly vocals and out-of-tune piano, "Meet the Residents" is not your typical progressive rock (or any "rock" at all) cup of tea. It is a pure manifestation of de-constructionist avant- garde art, whatever that means...

It sounds so amateurish and childlike that it reminds me of my own high school "home band" of my friends, when we used to gather at one's home, equipped with only a pair of untuned acoustic guitars, cardboxes, kitchen utensils, a small toy-like Casio synth and a cassette recorder. Assisted by a quantity of assorted liquors and loads of inspirational prog music, the hometaping could start. Unlimited imagination, creativity and rule-breaking - made for private purposes and closed for the public.

THE RESIDENTS, in contrast, made it publicly and made it history of the "counter-sub- culture"...

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Delightful and weird, this record is almost sure to induce laughter the first time you hear it. As a matter of fact, I still can't listen to it without laughing. It's hard to tell whether the Residents are inspired geniuses or talentless hacks, but at this point I really don't think it matters. The bizarre collage of off kilter melodies, found sounds and covers of classic tunes such as These Boots are Made For Walking and Nobody But Me are something you will either love or hate depending on your sense of humor. Recommended to the adventurous.
Review by Rune2000
4 stars Originally I always found it hard listening to The Residents, but every time a heard one of their compositions it made me want to get a full album experience. Still once I quenched that curiosity it wasn't all that satisfying. Surprisingly enough it was Meet The Residents that made me entirely change my opinion about this band. Even while purchasing this particular release I was certain that it would be spectacular. The first time I listened though it was, once again, somewhat troublesome but I still got the overall feel of the album which in my case could be considered a good sign!

During my next listens I found that The Residents can be quite enjoyable! The thought of this album being released in 1974 blows my mind even today, since I can't find anyone (or anything, for that matter) else like that during that period of time. My favorite track is and will probably always be N-er-gee (Crisis Blues) because it's the most daring and exciting composition out of the bunch.

If you're looking for an introduction album to the weird and crazy world of The Residents then this is definitely the place to start!

***** songs: Boots (0:53) Numb Erone (1:07) Guylum Bardot (1:21) Consuelo's Departure (0:59) Smelly Tongues (1:47) Rest Aria (5:09) N-er-gee (Crisis Blues) (7:16)

**** songs: Breath And Length (1:42) Infant Tango (5:27) Seasoned Greetings (5:13)

*** songs: Skratz (1:42) Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)

Total Rating: 4,30

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album, the debut for The Residents (actually, "Santa Dog" was the real debut for the band - a double-set of 7" 45's - but it's included on most editions of the CD), is quite a subversive record. From the altered "Meet The Beatles" album cover, to the deconstructed and distorted rock songs on the inside, there were few artists at the time creating this sort of mayhem.

Technically primitive compared to most of the albums that followed from this band, it still provides a world of wonder. The sounds are mostly obvious instruments, but played like the guys were trying to get a different sound out of each.

The best songs are Smelly Tongues (how can you resist that title?), and the totally bizarre N-er-gee (Crisis Blues). And we must love the "Santa Dog" tracks added on as a bonus.

Not their best, but a load of fun.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Meet The Residents' - The Residents (7/10)

...And what an interesting encounter it has been.

Imagine coming down off of an acid trip in some dusty club in Casablanca. Sam waddles away at the piano, the backing band chimes in with a nightmarish odium, and some drunkards are singing songs of better times in a foreign language you cannot understand. Such is the impression I get with the debut album of the enigmatic art collective known as The Residents. A group of mysterious innovators that have made a name for themselves turning Western musical tradition on its side, the first album by 'North Louisiana's Phenomenal Pop Combo' certainly isn't an album that agrees with most musical preconceptions I or the majority of others will have when first looking into their work. A lo-fi mess of sounds, half baked musical ideas and a fair amount of uncertainty on part of the listener, 'Meet The Residents' leaves a lasting impression, and while still a very hit-or-miss ordeal of the group, there's no denying that the music's quirk and charm outweighs the moments that make me want to cringe.

From the album cover alone (a twisted revision of a Beatles' LP), one can tell right off the bat that The Residents are not ones to take themselves particularly seriously, although parts of the album get dark very quickly. The general sound here is one of concrete experimentation. One part a commentary on pop music, the other a nightmarish big band orchestration, there's quite a surprising bit done with the generally muddy and undercut production values the album has. The Residents generally crowd around the use of the piano to drive their tracks along, at times bringing in other instruments- be they guitars, or jazzier equipment. All of this may be somewhat straightforward, but it is the way in which these pieces are put together that really makes the Residents one to question.

First off, it feels like the band has some sort of aversion to developing any idea too much, as if they're scared of the commitment it would entail. While most of the songs generally have a general theme of similar sound going for them, its commonplace on 'Meet The Residents' to have a musical idea (say, a piano ditty) suddenly blast into a wave of tapelooped vocal wails. The instruments also often feel out of sync with each other and viciously offtime; poor musicianship, or a yearning to experiment? I would tend to think that the band's almost drunken style of writing and playing on the record tend to indicate a stylistic decision over any conceivable lack of talent, although of course, this really off-kilter attitude the Residents have is bound to be misconstrued by many. While generally quite dissonant and even uncomfortable for human ears at times, the band does balance it out somewhat with the big band orchestrations; which add some beauty to what is otherwise a sea of confusion.

A huge hit-or-miss album to be quite certain, but the impression the album makes is about as confusing as it would have been had I listened to it forty years ago. Only the most adventurous of music listeners need apply; you have been warned.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars Part cabaret part madhouse asylum. I'm glad to hear that 'Barney' the drunk from the 'Simpsons; is still on board for lead vocals on the first track...

One of the more difficult Residents albums to get into by virtue of its extreme oddness. You'll either love or hate this nonsense. Personally I can't get enough of it. This is truly screwed up in the head stuff and perversely it belongs on the Prog Archives along with their other releases from this period due to the fact that all of their albums flow as a whole in remotely prog semblance, albeit in a crazy manner.

At points 'Meet the Residents' can be beautiful but is sharply followed by being whacked over the head with a rolling pin for no rhyme or reason. This is about as far out there as you'll get on the Archives, sounding very much like a 1930's Berlin Cabaret hall. Certainly not one for Yes or Genesis fans, that's for sure.

A fairly dark but comical album that has faint similarities with Beefheart's 'Trout Mask'. That's really the only comparison I can think of...

This album makes me realise that the worst thing that happened to the Residents after 1979 was that they learned how to construct tunes. The spontaneity vanished along with most of the creativity. Back here in 1973 they were at their demented best where they sounded like they could barely play the instruments they held in their hands, but somehow carried it off in a way that was listenable and exhilarating to folks like you and me.

A one off band that will never be repeated.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars dangerously different and ferociously original.

The Residents debut is something of a curio and I am not sure if anyone actually got it. I was introduced to Residents inimitable oddball style way after this so this was a weird one to return to. A 1974 Avant album is always a treat. The way that Residents deconstruct such well known songs such as 'Boots' and makes them unrecognizable is a delight. This is something they would later explore on the delightful "Third Reich N' Roll".

The songs, if you call them as such, are mostly short little ditties of weirdness with some of the darkest humour you are likely to encounter. 'Numb Erone' is a raucous piano blaster that I have heard a few times but for me the real highlight is 'Guylum Bardot' that merges into 'Breath and Length'. The bizarre music is wonderful along with those crazy vocals. 'Consuelo's Departure' comes and goes with lots of swooshes and off kilter instrumentation of atonal jazz sax and burbling vocal intonations. 'Smelly Tongues' is very spacey inexplicable musical shapes, with twangy strings, sploshing percussion and a droning bassline and a chant "smelly tongues looked just as they felt". In other words pure Residents fun.

The piano solo follows of 'Rest Aria' with enough chimes and dissonance to make it interesting for a while. It is one of the longest tracks but soon loses it's tedium with some off the wall wind instrumentation and an insistent triangle. The blast at the end breaks things up and especially the sax solo.

'Skratz' is next back to the shorter and far superior compositions. I think Residents work best in small doses as the ideas are greater in short bursts on this debut. This features low end vocals and anti-musical figures as we hear about dirty fingernails scratzing. The lyrics are incoherent and unfathomable; "Ann ran her tongue along the ridges by the Gulf, Thoughts slipped into valleys, Concealed by dense Mexicali underbush hair, A flag ran up his pole, And waved firmness with wings."

'Spotted Pinto Bean' is another longer track, with female choral vocals and a kind of lunatic ballroom sound. The lyrics are nuts; "Spotted Pinto Bean is leaving, Leaving on a midnight streaming, Tears behind him all the way."

This is quite an unsettling track with ghostly voices and creepy atmospherics. It gets more bizarre as it continues but I like the odd weepy female voices and distant broadway feel. The stormy rain comes down at the end and it is almost capturing a film noir atmosphere. It soon wears out its welcome though and I longed for it to end.

'Infant Tango' follows with wah-wah bass, nice change from all the piano. The brass is as usual off tune and the vocals are Louisiana accented like most early Residents. Some wah wah guitar follows that appeals to me more than the over abundance of keyboards. This is one of the best tracks and it builds creepily with high pitch effects threatening to explode. Jazz brass blasts and sporadic drumming patterns and the irregularity of the guitars are quite well executed over the polyrhythmic shapes.

'Seasoned Greetings' is next returning to staccato piano banging and some rather nice brass embellishments. Experimental percussion follows with pots and pans and kitchen utensils. 'N-Er- Gee (Crisis Blues)' is the longest track at 7:16, and it is the Residents at their most outrageous. It is an irregular collage of sounds that is as disconcerting as anything heard from the band since. It moves into some chanting and psych prog instrumentation until a xylophone chimes a ditty and then there are brass blasts before some percussion accompanies. At this stage all bets are off, this is asylum music and completely out of the box. The real appeal is that this is so dangerously different and ferociously original. It is to be either admired or discarded altogether, there is no middle ground. At 8 minutes in, the track switches to a droning monotone chant with barber shop quartet harmonies.

So ends the debut for the irreverent Residents. They really challenge music itself and will certainly not appeal to all tastes. But for the brave this is a real ear opener, nowhere near as creepy as albums to come, and I found this to be an entertaining romp; quite a lot of fun in the interim.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars Meeting The Residents for the first time is like encountering a gang of party crashers pretending to be drunk. Here they are on their debut album: lampshades on their heads, stumbling through the front door while performing an inebriated demolition of the Nancy Sinatra hit "These Shoes Were Made For Walkin'", in a willful attempt to disrupt your composure, upset your guests, and trample all over every acceptable notion of musical propriety.

The performances are rudimentary, at best. The production is lower than lo-fi. And the instrumentation is so basic it looks almost silly: amateur horns, primitive electronics, clattering percussion, and a cheap acoustic piano salvaged from the dusty basement of a nearby social hall.

None of it is played very well, but even at this early stage of the group's evolution there's an obvious integrity to their weirdness...if in fact there ever was an actual group. Sometimes I think The Residents advance the illusion of being a quartet only because that's the standard arrangement of a traditional rock band, as seen in their cheerfully desecrated portrait of the Fab Four on the album's original front cover.

The genius is in the assembly, applying what FRANK ZAPPA would have called a rigorous conceptual continuity to an otherwise inscrutable hodgepodge of private jokes, outré insanity, and adenoidal nursery school caterwauling. Don't be surprised by the rare moment of melodic beauty, in the ghostly piano interlude of "Rest Aria" and elsewhere. But the album works best when the band keeps its collective avant-garde tongue firmly in cheek, for example in the mock-operatic vaudeville of "Spotted Pinto Bean".

Side Two (of the original vinyl) is less effective because it takes itself a little more seriously, never the best strategy for a group of iconoclastic nut cases. But even here you'll find a startling preview of their upcoming anti-Top-40 masterpiece "Third Reich 'n Roll", in a subversive deconstruction of the 1968 Human Beinz chestnut "Nobody But Me". After introducing it as a turntable sing-along, the first verse is quickly sidetracked into a looping mantra that worms its way under your skin and into your DNA: a classic moment of Residential satire.

Forty-plus years later the album is still remarkably strange. But it was hardly unique in 1973, sharing a common thread of cultural nonconformity with other, more renowned outsiders like Zappa, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, and the Dada crusaders of FAUST. To the uninitiated this embryonic effort can sound (in a good way) like dirty fingernails scraped down a blackboard, almost literally in a song like "Skratz". But as The Residents themselves all but plead in the original liner notes, "Listen closely to the record. Let the strangeness wear off through a couple of plays. Soon you too will whistle the merry tunes..."

...Or else run screaming headlong into the nearest brick wall, they might have added. Either reaction is perfectly acceptable.

Review by Warthur
3 stars With compositions like the riotous Infant Tango (which combines Beefheartian vocals, surf rock guitar, and pulsating, Mothers of Invention-ish percussion bubbling underneath the surface) and cover art directly blaspheming against the Beatles, few avant-garde experimental rock groups can claim to have made a debut more provocative than Meet the Residents. Nobody in 1974 could have expected a band informed by the strangest moments of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band (perhaps one of the few acts the album is comparable to) would sound quite as accessible as this album frequently does, and although it dabbles a little too much in "weird for weird's sake" to really present a cohesive musical vision it's still a solid enough first effort.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well this is where it all started for THE RESIDENTS, releasing their strange music on an unexpecting World back in 1974. Fractured song structures, twisted melodies, funny vocals, plenty of noise and oh... that album cover? Yeah these guys were sort of the anti-THE BEATLES weren't they? Captain Beefheart even sings on one track and yes Frank Zappa might come to mind once in a while but this all sounds pretty original.

I have to say I had no idea this was the Nancy Sinatra song that's how much they deconstructed this piece. The first six songs are all short and blend into each other often making this feel like one piece of music. We even get female vocals on "Breath And Length". During this first section we get lots of horns, electronics, beats and piano all made to sound anything but melodic. "Rest Aria" is fairly melodic and clocks in at over 5 minutes the first song to hit over 2 minutes so far. Piano and horns stand out in this one.

"Skratz" will be the last short tune as we get four more tracks to end it with nothing less than 5 minutes long. "Spotted Pinto Bean" has these operatic male and female vocals and the male vocals make me laugh. "Infant Tango" is too catchy with Captain Beefheart singing. It's all instrumental from one minute to the end. "Seasoned Greetings" is perfect for this time of year. Oh man those hilarious vocals on "N-Er-Gee(Crisis Blues)" is the icing on the cake. They appear before 6 1/2 minutes.

So not their best in my opinion but a great start to their careers which I understand still continues.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars When it comes to some of the weirdest music that has ever been made then it's a sure thing that THE RESIDENTS will be close to the top of the list. Having emerged in the rather normal American city of Shreveport, Louisiana, these misfits met in high school and were destined for far stranger places after spending years collecting as many different styles of tape music as possible. With the wild 60s underway the earliest members who preferred to remain anonymous throughout their careers found their way out to the west coast in the freak loving city of San Francisco but THE RESIDENTS didn't opt for a Victorian house dwelling in the Haight-Ashbury but rather settled in the rather normal and unlikely setting of the suburb San Mateo to the south of the city. The band founded its nascent Ralph Records and commenced to create some of the most unusual sounds ever laid town to tape.

Despite having released well over 70 albums up to when one of its co-founders Hardy Fox passed away in 2017, the band has remained utterly unclassifiable as its art expanded well past music and reached into multimedia, CD-ROM technologies and many films. The band has also been known as one of the most outrageously over-the-top live acts and single-handedly redefined the limits of surreality in the context of record album. Much of THE RESIDENTS' music can be divided into two categories which includes deconstructuralism of Western pop music and strange conceptual compositions that are structured around a theme or theory. No matter what the focus is upon, the group has always expounded the most surreal lyrics and bizarre disregard for traditional musical constructs and it all began with the band's debut album MEET THE RESIDENTS.

Fittingly this debut was released on April 1st, 1974 and displayed a Zappa-esque contempt of popular music of the day with the album's famous defaced version of "Meet The Beatles." While the album could certainly be called experimental by any definition of the word, the music remained somewhat traditional in its approach although various genres were segued into each other and created more of a stream of consciousness sort of album rather than a collection of individual tracks no matter how different they actually were but in the end the tracks themselves hadn't totally eschewed the orthodox of songwriting but rather stitched together a series of different sounds that morphed musique concrète into folk rock which could lead to Yma Sumac styled exotica, vocal jazz, zolo, post-punk or even piano lounge music. There is a clear show tune sort of feel to the whole thing although one where the entire band as well as the audience were tripping on heavy doses of illegal substances.

Needless to say THE RESIDENTS were well ahead of their time and this album failed to sell many copies with most people thinking the whole thing was a joke. The world would have to catch up to the bizarre world that THE RESIDENTS would construct but in the ensuing decades the band has certainly gained the respect that it deserves for its brash and unbridled creativity run amok. While this strange amalgamation or pop collage failed to sell little more than 40 albums during its initial release, the magazine Sounds gave a favorable review in 1977 and the band slowly but surely became a cult underground sensation and it's not hard to hear why while listening to this. Despite the bizarre mix weirdness including dog barks for percussive beats, female vocalists chanting with nonsensical words driven by jittery zigzagging rhythms and herky jerky angst, the melodies themselves are quite cute and cuddly and provide the instant connection needed to appreciate this errant world of freakery.

THE RESIDENTS were and have always been about being weird for weird's sake and that's what makes them so friggin endearing as they didn't give a flying friggie wig about any trends and went against every grain that they could possibly imagine. More DIY than even punk rock and far weirder than the most psychedelic Krautrock, THE RESIDENTS existed in its own world where they seemingly beamed in from another dimension as if they were some sort of ambassadors for another world that's parallel to ours but just out of reach. While MEET THE RESIDENTS was the band's first full-length album, they actually released a four track single called "Santa Dog" in 1972. On newer CD releases these four tracks are tacked on to the album and well worth the price of admission. While these tracks are slightly more primitive with more emphasis on pop deconstruction and hypnotic anti-melodies almost in a no wave fashion, the band took time off between releases to work on a huge film project called the Vileness Fats project.

It only takes one listen to any RESIDENTS album to realize that these guys had downloaded a completely different operating system than the rest of humanity. Even to this day no musical act has taken its idiosyncratic weirdness to the heights that THE RESIDENTS did. While the band would release too many albums to count over the decades, MEET THE RESIDENTS remains one of my absolute favorites for its untimely boldness that emerged in the musical freedom years of the early 70s but even by the era's standards, this one is about as far out as it gets in terms of unorthodoxies ruling the roost. Perhaps one of the most crazy rumors of the day was that THE RESIDENTS actually were The Beatles due to John Lennon displaying this album on his wall at home but i think it's fair to say that as awesome as The Beatles' were in crafting some of the finest pop music the world has ever experienced that THE RESIDENTS are so far out in left field that even the Fab Four didn't have a freak flag big enough to unfurl into this multi-dimensional weirdness. Hail THE RESIDENTS! Masters of the outlandish quirkiness!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Glancing at previous reviews and I honestly forgot that anonymity was such a big deal for this band ("anonymous lineup" haha). And really, quite the novelty for when they came onto the scene. Also with timing, cool this was only 10 years after Meet The Beatles. I don't have to feel this to be tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2676308) | Posted by DangHeck | Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The world of avant-rock and experimental rock can be a dark and twisted place, yet no band was able to do it as well as the Residents did with their debut album. The genre can also be near unlistenable, which is what I think many people would feel about the Residents, even prog-fans who apprecia ... (read more)

Report this review (#967797) | Posted by Mr. Soot Gremlin | Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It was on this release that we really did get to meet the Residents, their first official full-length LP. Prior to this there had a been a number of never truly released and vaguely mythical projects, "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor," "The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger," "Baby Sex" and "The Warne ... (read more)

Report this review (#245780) | Posted by questionsneverknown | Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For what it is, this album is incredibly important. Not only did this, the Residents first album, freak out a load of people, it showed what the group could do. While taking their influence from no one, they managed to create their own sound that, after a few listens, really has some great beau ... (read more)

Report this review (#46651) | Posted by Spanky | Wednesday, September 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Here they are everybody. Who? The Residents. Who still? I don't know. This anonymous group started us with Meet The Residents (after the rare Santa Dog single of course). The cover, infamously a mockery of the Meet The Beatles LP. Meet The Residents can only be compared to (and slightly) t ... (read more)

Report this review (#41639) | Posted by | Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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