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The Residents The Tunes of Two Cities album cover
3.27 | 43 ratings | 6 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Serenade for Missy (3:16)
2. A Maze of Jigsaws (2:52)
3. Mousetrap (3:32)
4. God of Darkness (3:18)
5. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth) (3:59)
6. Praise for the Curse (2:52)
7. The Secret Seed (2:47)
8. Smokebeams (2:43)
9. Mourning the Undead (3:05)
10. Song of the Wild (3:24)
11. The Evil Disposer (3:16)
12. Happy Home [Excerpt from Act II of Innisfree] (4:46)
*13. Open Up
*14. Anvil Forest
*15. Scent of Mint

*CD only tracks from non-1997 releases.

Line-up / Musicians

Chris Cutler / drums
Fred Frith / guitar
Don Jackovich / percussion
Snakefinger / guitar, violin, vocals
The Residents / arranger
Normal Salant / saxophone

Releases information

-Released in 1982 on LP by Ralph
-Released in 1983 on cassette by Ralph
-Released in 1988 on LP by Torso
-Released in 1988 on CD by Torso
-Released in 1988 on CD by East Side Digital
-Released in 1997 on CD by Bomba in Japan
-Released in 1997 on CD by East Side Digital

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
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Buy THE RESIDENTS The Tunes of Two Cities Music

THE RESIDENTS The Tunes of Two Cities ratings distribution

(43 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(23%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE RESIDENTS The Tunes of Two Cities reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arguably the most successful of the albums that make up the Mole Trilogy. The Tunes of Two Cities presents the "native" music of the fictional cultures, the Moles and the Chubs, from a ethno-musicological standpoint.

Putting aside the utterly fascinating nature of the concept behind the album, there is some really fun music here. Of course it is all terribly quirky, for the Residents can write in no other way. I particularly enjoy the Chub music, due to its jazzy, catchy melodies and warped big band feeling. Smack Your Lips, Clap Your Teeth is particularly successful. The music of the Moles, by contrast is dark and rhythmic, showing the ritualistic nature of their culture. Less catchy, but still quite interesting.

The major flaw in the album is the lack of acoustic instruments. The Residents instead opt for synthesizers that now sound rather dated and cheap. Whether this was due to budget constraints or if they thought it contributed to the superficial cultures being portrayed is unclear. Perhaps they were just using tools that were considered cutting edge at the time. In any case, we can only imagine how good these tunes would have sounded with a real horn section.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album, the followup to "Mark Of The Mole", attempts to show the differences between the two cultures featued on the previous album, one living above ground, the other below. The songs alternate between the two societies, but both are odd and disturbing, but great to listen to.

The above ground songs are lighter, more open, and almost joyful, while the underground pieces are dark and mechanical. Both are heavily infused with themes from the previous album, which are often disguised, but become apparent the more you listen to both albums.

Even without knowing the story told on the first album, this is a great example of some of the Residents' bizarre form of music.

Review by Dobermensch
2 stars Part two of the so called 'Mole Trilogy' of which there were only two parts. This part is utter tripe. Massively spoiled by some horrendous keyboards that sound like something Rod, Jane and Freddy would conjure up in the British kids programme 'Rainbow'.

In 'A Tale of Two Cities' the story briefly goes like this: There are two tribes, one of which are the Chubs who are only interested in a hedonistic lifestyle. The others are the Moles who actually get things done. That's about it. Pants...

In some ways it's similar to the far better 'Eskimo' from '79 with its tribal culture references. This, however, is a dreadful slump in the Residents discography from which they would struggle to escape from for many years. Only the first two tracks prevent this recording receiving the ignominious one star as they are both excruciatingly catchy - the kind of tunes that make you want to punch yourself in the face because they won't go away and leave you in peace.

Probably the second worst Residents album available. Dreadfully dated, mostly instrumental and a complete departure from their 70's successes. A real ugly album full of outmoded and outdated synthetic sounds with very little to commend. The infantile sleeve artwork should be enough to scare any newcomer away.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another part of the Mole Trilogy in four parts'. Hmmm, I was not expecting much as parts 1 and 4 were very droll. However, I was determined to listen to this to complete the series; all in one sitting I might add so this was quite an ordeal. I like what The Residents do with their music in that they turn convention on its head and break through barriers and nobody can argue that they are an acquired taste. I wonder though what was in their minds when releasing this saga about the two races, the Chubs and The Moles. To reiterate for the uninitiated, the Chubs are the swinging jazz lovers that have the high life above ground and do what they want and have a blast not giving a toss about the hapless Moles who are 'working down below' and are determined to find some solace in the high life above. In Part 1 the Moles were forced out of their flooded tunnels to the surface and an uprising occurred where a war broke out and devastation resulted; a war of racial intolerance.

On this next part in the saga 'The Tunes of Two Cities' we have the inimitable Snakefinger which for me was a breath of fresh air as I always loved his part in the band as guitarist and vocalist. The Tunes are from the two races; the Moles are dark, deep resonating tunes, and the Chubs are jazz fusion atonalities. A nice idea that works better than the other albums in the saga. The album opens with instrumentals 'Serenade for Missy', jazzy dissonance, and 'A Maze of Jigsaws' just plain weirdness from the Moles side. 'Mousetrap' is a piano and synth competition. It has the quirky whimsical jazzy humour that the Residents are only capable of. I began to realise that this was an instrumental album primarily with just a few moments of la la las and that suits me fine as often Residents ruin albums with raving and monotonous chants such as on the abysmal 'The Big Bubble' that should be avoided like the plague.

On with the album, and we have 'God of Darkness' which is more tribal native music from the intrepid Moles clan. It is similar to a lot of what we hear on the first part of the trilogy, complete with chants and odd repeated noises. The saving grace of jazz atonality follows with 'Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)', from the Chubs race, that have more musical sense for my tastes. Snakefinger's guitar is a highlight as always, just a weird phased sound and there's some cool little synth lines and horns to add to the soundscape. The pieces representing The Moles are certainly as droll as those off of 'Mark of the Mole'. 'Praise for the Curse' is dark and dreary synth burblings with a drum beat, 'The Secret Seed' is chimes that twinkle and clank over a bass drum rhythm and is too long and monotonus. The swinging jazz of the Chubs is wonderful such as 'Smokebeams' with its cool jazz flavour, lots of horns, trumpets and jazz time sigs.

'Mourning the Undead' is a clattering machine noise that drones on like being in a factory reminding me of 'New Machine' from the first album in the trilogy. This is highly strange but compelling as one out of the box among these tracks. It would make a great song to play in a factory; Residents capture the monotonous atmosphere perfectly. 'Song of the Wild' is a sad little tune with some interesting effects on the synths. The sounds are high pitched and unsettling. 'The Evil Disposer' returns to the native sounds of Moles with a lot of percussion and doomy factory like synths. Home [Excerpt from Act II of Innisfree]' is a bass drum and improvised music on horn synths, and repeated noises.

Of the whole four albums in the so called trilogy, this part is most successful but I still regard 'Tunes of two Cities' as a weaker entry in The Residents massive catalogue. 2.5 stars for the Chubs songs with that weird jazz sound. Round it off to 3 for the delirious unique atmospheres.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars 'The Mark of the Mole' was the beginning of a proposed project by The Residents that originally was supposed to be spread out among 6 albums. Because of the financial disaster of the concerts that were supporting this project, the project got prematurely terminated. The only albums released were Part 1: The Mark of the Mole, Part II: The Tunes of Two Cities (this one) and Part IV: The Big Bubble. There was also an EP released which had intermission music from the concerts. This project was also the beginning of a decade of mostly bad albums from The Residents. Most of the music from this era was really bad sounding electronics and synthesizers.

So, 'The Tunes of Two Cities' is supposed to represent the two opposing cultures that were developed in the story of 'The Mark of the Mole' by showing their differences in the kind of music the cultures listened to. So this kooky album's tracks alternate between the music of the chubs, which is elevator music style jazz, and the music of the mole people, which is industrial hymns, that are bizarre avant garde pieces done electronically.

The best track on the album is the opener 'Serenade for Missy' which seems to be the only track that uses a standard, organic instrument, the brass solo. This first one is the chub style. After that, it alternates. Most of the rest of the album is comprised of really bad synthesized instruments. The music is goofy, and tends to wear out its welcome quite quickly. This is the 'anti- music' that The Residents were trying to create, music so bad that it represents the bad pop music that is out there. The Residents were great at lampooning popular music and popular society, but during this segment of their career, it was done to the extreme that it was not so funny after the first few minutes, and the fact that people had a hard time not taking the music seriously.

While it is true that some of the Mole people's music is similar to the music in 'Eskimo', now it was just too fake sounding, and really seemed to serve no purpose like it did in the 'Eskimo' album. The flatness of the early electronica equipment also left the music sounding non-dynamic and this gets quite boring after a while.

I must say however, that at least this is a bit better that 'The Big Bubble' which came later. The music on that album had awful, indiscernible lyrics and really, really bad singing because it was supposed to represent another society's music. At least on this album, you don't have to sit through the bad singing, and a couple of the tracks are at least a bit interesting. This album also was the first to feature the use of a sampling device called the E-mulator, although it is quite prehistoric sounding. So at least it has some historical value, even if it doesn't have much hysterical value.

Anyway, it is very difficult to sit through listening to the album, and it is one that doesn't see the light of the CD-rom laser very often. Once in a while, I just have to remind myself how bad it can get.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is my first review. Its primary motivation is the Poll question, asking for music that is a Guilty Pleasure - i.e. non -Prog but loved. I would have assuredly put the Residents, but upon further review, I notice that they are listed ! However, they are only minimally reviewed here, and ... (read more)

Report this review (#124658) | Posted by Nicholas Linear | Monday, June 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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