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The Residents - Meet The Residents CD (album) cover


The Residents



4.02 | 106 ratings

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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 Warner Bros. Album," and the actually but limitedly released set of singles, "Santa Dog." With "Meet the Residents," the official show gets off to a great start, especially with its landmark album cover, an appropriation and damaging of "With the Beatles." The cover was so shocking in its day that an alternate version had to be distributed for years, with another classic Beatles pose modified so that the Fab Four's heads were replaced with those of crawfish. Ringo appropriately got a starfish.

The music inside is an equally rambunctious affair, showing off the early Residents' ability to run a Dadaistic circus. Compared with the officially unreleased earlier material, it's actually quite orderly, but that's not saying much. The two sides offer quite different approaches to the mayhem. The first consists of nine twisted little ditties, like some acid-drowned cabaret, a trip penny opera. Gravely voice loops bleed into whacked tack piano studies as sickly saxophones join an unfolding suite of the grotesque. It's like you've been invited to a musical theatre, and you feel like you should know the tunes, but gas has been leaking into the theatre causing you to hallucinate and feel a bit nauseated. You've lost the thread but the actors and singers keep performing and looking at you to join in. The titles and lyrics, rising from a mock Finnegans Wake world of sound puns, indicate that the game is surreal world building, not realism?"Guylum Bardot," "Numb Erone," "Breath and Length" and "Rest Aria." The standout track from side one is surely the tango "Smelly Tongues," a song the band has revived a number of times on a variety of tours over the years, and it also served as the name for a fan club in the 1990s. The second side features only three songs that generate looser, wilder, repetitive grooves (kind of like making it to disc two of the Mothers' "Freak Out.") "Infant Tango" is a great childish satire on the nascent disco movement. All so beautifully, deliberately inept and na´ve.

One of the intriguing standout features of the debut album parallels the pioneering appropriated subversion of the cover. The album opens with an a cappella take on Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'," but the cover takes a monstrous dive south. Then on side two, "N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues)" segues from "Seasoned Greetings" with some raucous Christmas noodling into a quoting of the Human Beinz's "Nobody But Me." Then, most radically, one of the Residents puts the needle down on an actual 45 of "Nobody But Me," sings over it for around twenty seconds before the record gets in a locked groove that the group then plays over, adding layers and layers of noise and sound. A pioneering and radical use of sampling that also initiates us into the strategy that will shape the entire recording of their next album, "The Third Reich 'n' Roll."

Meet the Residents starts off what has come to be referred to as the classic period of the band's work, and its anarchistic joy is something to behold, even if it doesn't quite attain the greatness that will mark subsequent albums like "Not Available," "Third Reich," "Eskimo" and "The Commercial Album."

questionsneverknown | 4/5 |


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