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


The Residents



4.17 | 116 ratings

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5 stars The Residents began their anonymous vigil on the outer fringes of pop culture by cloaking their identity behind defaced portraits of The Beatles (see: "Meet the Residents"). For their second studio album, ignoring for now the myths about the 'Not Available' LP, the band carried that same love/hate relationship with Rock 'n Roll to its logical climax.

Almost fifty studio albums later (and counting) this may still be the one essential Residents experience, in two side-long medleys collecting some of the greatest hits of the 1960s, all of them sliced, diced, and gleefully eviscerated in the usual avant-art Residential blender. Contrary to the sleeve notes it's not a parody album, which would have been too easy and superficial. The joke extends much further than that, to a canny satire of the business behind the music, with the provocative album title and troubling references to National Socialism reminding listeners about the corporate dictatorship controlling their musical tastes (the album is dedicated "to the thousands of little power-mad minds of the music industry").

But there's also an explicit suggestion that this mish-mash of twisted alternative pop is what American Top-40 radio would have sounded like in the more creative environment of Krautrock Germany. There's Dick Clark on the front cover, wearing a Nazi armband and clutching a bright orange carrot. And here's Chubby Checker, introducing "Let's Twist Again" in a mock Teutonic accent, just before the song is flushed down the studio toilet. And who's the soprano doing that warped operatic imitation of James Brown (again, singing in German)?

The whole thing is a lo-fi laff riot. Nobody ever demolished a musical icon quite like The Residents, and their tinker-toy arrangement of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is hereby offered as proof. And yet even at its silliest the album correctly identifies the acne-scarred adolescent longing and lust at the heart of all those bubblegum ditties: listen to the raw animal lechery in the chorus of "Good Lovin'", or the drooling menace behind the invitation to "Come on, baby, Light My Fire..." Who knows? The Residents might actually challenge your perceptions of what music could and should be, while dressed like Clansmen in nothing but recycled newspapers (see their "Third Reich 'n Roll" promotional video).

And beyond the obvious subversion of the concept itself the album can also be enjoyed as an ice-breaker at any dull party: in between rounds of Twister you and your friends can play Spot-That-Tune! Don't worry about the uneasy sense of disorientation and nausea you might feel while hearing it. But if the music starts to sound halfway normal after a couple of spins, be very afraid.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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