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The Residents - Meet The Residents CD (album) cover


The Residents



4.02 | 106 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars When it comes to some of the weirdest music that has ever been made then it's a sure thing that THE RESIDENTS will be close to the top of the list. Having emerged in the rather normal American city of Shreveport, Louisiana, these misfits met in high school and were destined for far stranger places after spending years collecting as many different styles of tape music as possible. With the wild 60s underway the earliest members who preferred to remain anonymous throughout their careers found their way out to the west coast in the freak loving city of San Francisco but THE RESIDENTS didn't opt for a Victorian house dwelling in the Haight-Ashbury but rather settled in the rather normal and unlikely setting of the suburb San Mateo to the south of the city. The band founded its nascent Ralph Records and commenced to create some of the most unusual sounds ever laid town to tape.

Despite having released well over 70 albums up to when one of its co-founders Hardy Fox passed away in 2017, the band has remained utterly unclassifiable as its art expanded well past music and reached into multimedia, CD-ROM technologies and many films. The band has also been known as one of the most outrageously over-the-top live acts and single-handedly redefined the limits of surreality in the context of record album. Much of THE RESIDENTS' music can be divided into two categories which includes deconstructuralism of Western pop music and strange conceptual compositions that are structured around a theme or theory. No matter what the focus is upon, the group has always expounded the most surreal lyrics and bizarre disregard for traditional musical constructs and it all began with the band's debut album MEET THE RESIDENTS.

Fittingly this debut was released on April 1st, 1974 and displayed a Zappa-esque contempt of popular music of the day with the album's famous defaced version of "Meet The Beatles." While the album could certainly be called experimental by any definition of the word, the music remained somewhat traditional in its approach although various genres were segued into each other and created more of a stream of consciousness sort of album rather than a collection of individual tracks no matter how different they actually were but in the end the tracks themselves hadn't totally eschewed the orthodox of songwriting but rather stitched together a series of different sounds that morphed musique concrète into folk rock which could lead to Yma Sumac styled exotica, vocal jazz, zolo, post-punk or even piano lounge music. There is a clear show tune sort of feel to the whole thing although one where the entire band as well as the audience were tripping on heavy doses of illegal substances.

Needless to say THE RESIDENTS were well ahead of their time and this album failed to sell many copies with most people thinking the whole thing was a joke. The world would have to catch up to the bizarre world that THE RESIDENTS would construct but in the ensuing decades the band has certainly gained the respect that it deserves for its brash and unbridled creativity run amok. While this strange amalgamation or pop collage failed to sell little more than 40 albums during its initial release, the magazine Sounds gave a favorable review in 1977 and the band slowly but surely became a cult underground sensation and it's not hard to hear why while listening to this. Despite the bizarre mix weirdness including dog barks for percussive beats, female vocalists chanting with nonsensical words driven by jittery zigzagging rhythms and herky jerky angst, the melodies themselves are quite cute and cuddly and provide the instant connection needed to appreciate this errant world of freakery.

THE RESIDENTS were and have always been about being weird for weird's sake and that's what makes them so friggin endearing as they didn't give a flying friggie wig about any trends and went against every grain that they could possibly imagine. More DIY than even punk rock and far weirder than the most psychedelic Krautrock, THE RESIDENTS existed in its own world where they seemingly beamed in from another dimension as if they were some sort of ambassadors for another world that's parallel to ours but just out of reach. While MEET THE RESIDENTS was the band's first full-length album, they actually released a four track single called "Santa Dog" in 1972. On newer CD releases these four tracks are tacked on to the album and well worth the price of admission. While these tracks are slightly more primitive with more emphasis on pop deconstruction and hypnotic anti-melodies almost in a no wave fashion, the band took time off between releases to work on a huge film project called the Vileness Fats project.

It only takes one listen to any RESIDENTS album to realize that these guys had downloaded a completely different operating system than the rest of humanity. Even to this day no musical act has taken its idiosyncratic weirdness to the heights that THE RESIDENTS did. While the band would release too many albums to count over the decades, MEET THE RESIDENTS remains one of my absolute favorites for its untimely boldness that emerged in the musical freedom years of the early 70s but even by the era's standards, this one is about as far out as it gets in terms of unorthodoxies ruling the roost. Perhaps one of the most crazy rumors of the day was that THE RESIDENTS actually were The Beatles due to John Lennon displaying this album on his wall at home but i think it's fair to say that as awesome as The Beatles' were in crafting some of the finest pop music the world has ever experienced that THE RESIDENTS are so far out in left field that even the Fab Four didn't have a freak flag big enough to unfurl into this multi-dimensional weirdness. Hail THE RESIDENTS! Masters of the outlandish quirkiness!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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