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The Residents - Stranger Than Supper CD (album) cover


The Residents



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4 stars The Residents compilation 'Stranger Than Supper' (1990) is a collection of rare and unreleased tracks which were recorded during live shows and during rehearsals. The compilation was released to the general public, so it was a bit more available than most of their other compilations and fan club releases. The tracks are pretty much unique to this odd collection.

It all starts off with 'Intro / Somethin' Devilish' (2:59), which is one of the bands earliest live performances, the 'Boarding House' performance at San Francisco, CA in October of 1971. It was to open the second side of the unreleased album 'Baby Sex'. Much of this performance is on the 'Daydream B-Liver' collection. The crowd is small and the recording is questionable. It starts with the hayseed sounding main Resident introduction of the show. The music is a noisy bunch of yelling, screaming and squealing sax. Even that early, before the 'Meet the Residents' album, it was obvious this band was crazy. Fast forward to January of 1990, almost 19 years later for the next track, their cover of '(Let Me Be Your)Teddy Bear' (3:46) as performed live on NBC's 'Night Music'. This track was intended for the 'Daydream B-Liver' compilation, but was replaced by their cover of 'Burnin' Love' instead. This track, like all of The Resident's destructive covers, sounds nothing like Elvis' or anybody else's version. The vocals are hard and growly with over-the-top emotion. The instrumentation is sparse, pretty much just bad synths and no emotion whatsoever. Quite hilarious.

'Why Didn't I Think of That?' (0:55) was originally supposed to be for a theme to a TV show that never aired. It is the 3rd part of 'The History of Digital Music' which the band performed under a different identity as they tried to demonstrate the evolution of digital music to a junior high school class. The first two parts of the performance is on the compilation 'Liver Music' and the 4th part has never been released, probably for the benefit of humanity. This short track is performed on a MIDI and sounds like a typical 80's new wave style instrumental, quite cheerful and Devo-like. 'New Orleans' (2:01) is taken from a studio jam done during the 'Cube-E' sessions in Maerch of 1990. It's a percussion heavy track with just enough synthesizer to remind you that this is The Residents. 'Lament' (3:22) is an excerpt from the in studio Snakey Wake performance in August of 1987. Snakey Wake was a fan-club released featuring one 20 minute track that was done in tribute of Snakefinger, The Resident's guitarist who died while they were on a European tour in Austria. This excerpt was not included on the Snakey Wake album. The track starts with seagull effects (or is it a monkey?) and other odd noises, somewhat reminiscent of 'Eskimo'. The sound is mysterious and dark and of course, mostly created by electronics. The vocal effects are sung (?).

'Die in Terror / Eva's Warning' (7:36) is an excerpt from the '13th Anniversary Show Live in the USA' album in February of 1987, which hadn't been released and was still in initial planning stages when this compilation was released. The song starts with minimal instrumentation and percussion with vocals and strange, spooky sounds. This evolves into a somewhat noisy song that is a combination of overloaded guitar and orchestrated synths. At 3 minutes, it devolves into bad singing and percussion, everything you expect from The Residents. And after that, it just gets weird. Good stuff. 'Suzanna' (1:52) is a rejected track from the 'Bucakaroo Blues album (Fall of 1989). It's a orchestral rendition of Oh Susanna!, as interpreted by a synth and then some cheap push button tones.

'Land of 1000 Dances / Double Shot' (11:39) was also recorded around the Buckaroo Blues sessions and was eventually included as a bonus track for that album. It is a funky little number done on your grandmother's Wurlitzer. There are vocals, for better or worse, some messed up riffs and maybe a few familiar sounding snippets of popular songs of the time. A simple riff is repeated ad nauseum. All of this oddness is simple another bad cover of two old rock n roll hits, one by Wilson Pickett and the other by The Swingin' Medallions. Since this is all satirical, The Residents milk it for all it's worth as many old songs were known to do, just not for 11 minutes. It's still quite hilarious though.

'Mr. Skull's New Year's Eve Song' (6:26) is a performance done in studio of another performance that the band done while live at a New Year's Eve show in New York for their Cube tour. I was supposed to be included on the 'Daydream B-Liver' compilation, but they blew it and put it on this one instead. It starts with a version of Auld Lang Syne as it would be played at a funeral, of course, on cheap electronics. The track takes a tense, dramatic turn as it continues, sticking to a minor mode as it makes improvisations and variations of the well-worn out traditional song, soon it sounds nothing like the song at all and more like a cheap soundtrack to a B-movie. The Residents never fail to not disappoint and that's what makes them so greatly terrible. 'This is a Man's World' (5:05) was one of their covers quite a while ago that was quite popular in Australia, but that country is full of odd creatures anyway. This is the single version that the Australians love so much, and not the album version that everyone threw into the trash with their other love/hate relationship items. This version did happen to make it to the 'Liver Music' compilation as well, but they had to have something that would have some kind of hope of selling this trashy material. The cover is as hilarious as you would expect with their fake over-the-top singing and deconstructed sound.

At the end of the day, you can't help but love this compilation, and it is a great introduction to the crazy world of The Residents. Of course, it helps to know that you are getting into music that doesn't normally take itself very seriously, and much of which is very satirical. If you didn't know that, you would probably never want to hear anything by The Residents again, but, since we all know that this is anti-commercial goofiness, then we all know that it's great, which it isn't, but that's the whole point. Anyway, it's a fun compilation and you if you don't like it, then you only wasted 47 minutes of your time that you will never get back. Not a bad deal, huh?

TCat | 4/5 |


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