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The Residents - Stars & Hank CD (album) cover

STARS & HANK

The Residents

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.32 | 31 ratings

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Evolver
Special Collaborator
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This album marks the transition into the pattern of music The Resident would fall into for at least much of the nineties (I lost track of them after a series of less than thrilling albums). Much like what the eyeball guys would do later on "The King & I", they pick a couple of composers and deconstruct their music into their own weird vision. But unlike the Elvis project, here they seem to actually like their subjects.

The first side of the LP covers Hank Williams. Now I don't like much country music, but I was familiar with most of the original versions of these songs. The Residents take them and make them all ominous and eerie, whale making each sound discretely different from each other (something they didn't attain with the above mentioned "King" album, and even less on the live show that went with it).

While I find the renditions here all brilliant, I am especially astounded by Kaw-Liga, which is set over a very familiar bass line (Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, believe it or not), and Jambalaya, with just a simple spooky rhythm track and mostly spoken lyrics.

The second side, featuring the music of John Phiilip Sousa, is no less incredible. Set as a marching band, with a strange sounding drum corps introducing and transitioning each song, The Residents take the familiar marches and warp them into mind bending keys, using the vintage synthesizers they would keep on with to lesser effect for at least the next decade. The result is like the soundtrack to a nightmare. It's positively entralling.

I was obsessed with this album when it came out in 1986, and played my first copy to oblivion. I still get overjoyed when I listen to the LP occasionally now (I have yet to buy the CD).

It's a work of genius. One of the finest albums from this mysterious band.

Evolver | 5/5 |

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