Wednesday, January 27, 2010

mutilated by self obscuring clouds

Prior to the limited 2 x 45 Ralph released "Santa Dog" in 1972, agitators The Residents were prompted to furnish their own private recording studio, utilizing consumer marketed 4 track technology as it emerged. Allegedly, their collective nom de guerre was arrived at inadvertently when Warner Bros. rejected those first tentative demos; returning the tape c/o "residents" to their San Mateo address. The seed of the theory of obscurity was sewn.

"According to mythology, The Residents hail from Louisiana’s largest northern city, Shreveport. However, information so clearly handed out is almost certainly inaccurate, knowing how they create myths within myths...

Their musical history actually does start somewhere: San Mateo, found some twenty miles south of San Francisco. The myth claims they ran out of gas on the way to San Francisco and took it as a sign to settle there. Further, the myth says that they never put more gas into the car and it was eventually towed away..."

- Uncle Willie.
A number of the those demos from the abandoned "
Baby Sex" project would later surface on various Ralph materials. More interesting than the puerile, or just plain nasty, working title is concrete evidence of their nascent collaboration with English guitarist, Philip 'Snakefinger' Lithman - as testified by "We Stole This Riff" and their cover of Frank Zappa's "King Kong" - who had only just arrived then on the underground scene in San Francisco.

For their part, The Residents have long resisted attempts to classify their output.

As zealously, perhaps, as they have striven over three decades to preserve their anonymity. Publicly courted by the Music Press in the late seventies, the column inches waned as it began to register that The Residents were not content to simply plough the furrow as purveyors of a predetermined cryptic prank.

Where the "Duck Stab / Buster and Glen" EPs were decipherable and concise and "The Third Reich N' Roll" retrospectively celebrated as the product of Dadaist irony, 1980's "The Commercial Album" was almost universally censured as just so much more of the same. The sniffing was virtually audible.

The Residents remained conspicuous in absentia. Persistently declining to step forth and drop the act - t
o play ball and deliver an 'exclusive' - their timing was deemed flawed.

The joke had worn thin.

Who are The Residents ? And what price their awful heads ?

✝ From Tim Buckley's "Down By the Borderline".

THE RESIDENTS: HOLELOTTADICK from "**** Sex" Demo (Unreleased) 1971 (US)
THE RESIDENTS: SOMETHING DEVILISH from "**** Sex" Demo (Unreleased) 1971 (US)
THE RESIDENTS: WE STOLE THIS RIFF from "**** Sex" Demo (Unreleased) 1971 (US)



Just coming down from the awesome Talking Light show Saturday at the Rio in Santa Cruz which kicked off The Residents tour. The Rio is The Residents 'second home', so such a great place to start off. Can't really describe the show other than to say that it was a living-room with fireplace under multiple moons & the members of the band wore really strange masks,etc. Many of the new songs I don't really know the names, but they were fantastic. "The Unseen Sister"..."Six More Miles (to the Graveyard)"..."My Window" from Animal Lover..."Talking Light" the song that the idea for the show revolves around...Pudding Roll-ups, songs about aphids, light show, smoke, laser. Just great!

ib said...

Good to know you made the show. And all the better to hear they are still on top of their game.

I caught wind of the upcoming gig and tour on Underneathica.

The Residents continue to be one of life's finer mysteries.


jonder said...

I cannae wait to see them, masks and all. The Commercial Album was one of my favorites, and I don't remember it being "almost universally censured". The Residents also did a great version of "Maggie's Farm" back in the early 70's.

ib said...

The British press kicked "The Commercial Album" about a bit after heaping praise on earlier stuff, I seem to recall. Mind you, I confess my singling the LP out to illustrate a certain fickleness on the part of music journalists was fueled more than a bit by reading stuff elsewhere in soundbite fashion.

Mea Culpa.

A lot of reviewers were certainly guilty of regarding The Residents as a one trick pony. By 1980, the cutlery was glinting in the shadows across the road from the knacker's yard.

I like "The Commercial Album" too. Albeit, perhaps not so much as certain other releases. Depends on my mood.

Enjoy the show, jonderneathica.

jonder said...

Maybe the Residents' joke has worn thin after almost 40 years. But the anonymous groups who played ball with the music press found their column inches waning too, not long after the big reveal. Elvis Costello is the Imposter! Paul McCartney is the Fireman! Green Day is the Foxboro Hot Tubs! Klaatu is... not the Beatles. And it wasn't long after the members of Kiss took off their makeup that they decided (mercifully) to put it back on.