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The Residents - The Third Reich 'N' Roll CD (album) cover


The Residents



4.16 | 117 ratings

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4 stars If I were only able to use the phrase, "not for the faint of heart," to describe only one album, I think it would have to be this one. It is one of the most warped and twisted albums I know, and yet also one of the best. It is brilliant, zany, crazy, and forces you to wonder just what was wrong with the people writing it. Thankfully, I believe I can tell you exactly what was wrong with them. Their main problem was that they were socially conscious. They didn't like being told by the music industry what to do, they didn't like being forced to fit one particular mold, they didn't like fitting themselves into stereotypes, and so they did what came into their minds first. They decided to, for lack of better words, "stick it to the man." If the music industry wants them to do something popular, then why not.

Record an album composed entirely of pop songs done by other bands? Why not cover a bunch of pop songs that had all been hits? Wouldn't that sell? Well, yes, it would, but it would also be plagiarizing, so, of course, the Residents had to come up with some way to make these hit songs entirely their own. The result is Third Reich and Roll (a brilliant album title, by the way), a short (about thirty-five minutes) album composed of only two songs, each a medley of sorts. What they do on the album is set their own musical backgrounds to the songs (just some really strange, pop/symphonic/avant-garde music that ends up being absolutely brilliant), and then shuffle through as many pop songs as they can over the top. They make the music to these pop songs dissonant (combining pop and dissonance is about the last thing one would expect, and, as a result, is brilliant), butcher the vocals, and absolutely make the entire thing quite unlistenable to anyone who liked the songs the first time around. For those of us who dislike the songs they play, however, it comes across as absolutely incredible, and as one of the pillars of avant- garde music. On top of all of this, the Residents added politically charged song titles (Swastikas on Parade and Hitler Was a Vegetarian), which could be seen as making fun of the Holocaust. Again, they show their disdain for traditional values, such as the taboo of silliness around the Holocaust (something that I, as a Jew, think needs to go away). They are making a point with these song titles. As far as I can tell, they are trying to say that, yes, the Holocaust was bad, but if we can't look back on it and poke fun at the Nazis, if we keep the chip on our shoulder, then perhaps the Nazis really did win.

But enough philosophical musing. Even though I do believe that music is a medium, just like books and movies, that is supposed to make you think as well as entertain you, I do understand that the entertainment part of the equation is first on most of your minds, and so I'll talk a bit more about that. The album is composed of two epic songs, both between fifteen and twenty minutes, and both excellent. Hitler Was a Vegetarian is superior, but that's no insult to Swastikas on Parade, because Hitler Was a Vegetarian is one of prog rock's greatest epics. The Hey Jude guitar solo at the end is even better than the original (in my blasphemous opinion), and is the best moment on the album, though every other moment is fair competition for the best (especially the "yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy" section of Hitler Was a Vegetarian). This is a silly album, to be sure, and I'm confident that not even the Residents took themselves seriously, but this album is nevertheless a masterpiece. A must own (except, of course, for the faint of heart).

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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