Saturday, September 25, 2010

WB: RMX (2004)

Not that the Residents' discography is that easy to sort through in the first place, but here's a release where things become particularly confusing. Back in 1971, they recorded an album (actually, before they were officially the Residents) and sent it anonymously and unsolicited to Harve Halverstadt at Atlantic Records based on his association with noted musical outsider Captain Beefheart. Of course, the tape was rejected and returned to the band, care of "Residents, 20 Sycamore St., San Francisco," thus giving the band their famously anonymous moniker. But despite the future "success" of the Residents, the album remained unreleased. Fast forward 30-plus years to a time when the Residents were not only courting a newfound sense of accessibility with works like Demons Dance Alone and Wormwood, but they also seemed to be pondering their own mortality and ultimate place as artists, as evidenced by the Kettles of Fish live retrospective and a willingness to share actual personal details both there and in the Demons Dance Alone tour (while still maintaining anonymity, of course). In the midst of this, apparently the Residents decided to revisit the Warner Brothers Album, as it came to be called. But, when you're the Residents, a straight issuing of the original album seems tremendously uninspired, so in 2003, they took the original tracks and made a "dance mix" of the entire album. Now, anyone who has heard early Residents' material realizes that they were about as far from a dance band as any musical ensemble in the history of the world at that point. Which makes this remix all the more amazing in that they were able to take tapes that surely would be deemed completely unlistenable by most everyone, and craft a fun, accessible "dance" album out of them. Yes, many of the sounds are very strange, and often unplaceable. Yes, you hear the singing resident, sounding much as he has throughout their career, along with bleating, out-of-tune saxophones and deranged, near-yodeled vocals. But they somehow take these often-abrasive sounds and construct melodies and song forms that almost certainly weren't there in the first place. Or were they? That's part of the fun: you hear sound elements like string ensembles and bits off pop records that had to have been "sampled" (remember, this is 1971) along with other sounds/noises that are impossible to place, but one never knows whether the sound was tweaked and treated in 1971, or in 2003 (snatches of the Beatles and the I Love Lucy theme also appear in the murk). Then there are little details like the fact that the clapped-out rhythm that accompanies "A Merican Fag" sounds suspiciously like the Village People's "we want you, we want you" rhythm from "In the Navy," although "In the Navy" didn't appear until 1979. And how they manage to take the utterly inept sax playing of "Christmas Morning Photo," marry it to galloping beats of "Maggie's Farm," and make it catchy is anyone's guess. Such is the genius and mystery of the Residents. Very strange, very fun, and quite danceable, WB:RMX is a must-hear for fans.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Employing the same stress-scheme as Poe's "The Raven" throughout its 62 minutes, "God In Three Persons" is an extended work in "talking-blues" style for narrator, electronic instruments, and a chorus providing comments not to be found in the libretto — they sing production credits at the beginning, and lines like "something's coming, but not real soon," and "this is a sad part, oh, such a sad part". This surreal and yet directly delivered work is as lovingly human as it is comic with profound experience simply short, an original masterpiece of American music, directly in the tradition of the Thomson-Stein and Robert Ashley operas. As in all Residents pieces, the voices are modified electronically and the musical elements are deceptively minimal—most of its 14 episodes have only two chords which, however, still manage to instantly produce the correct atmosphere (Phil Glass-like Wagnerian thirds for mythic import, tonic-dominant in triplets for 50's teenage love story, etc.). There are only passing riffs, more like comments, and the only melody in the whole piece is a wheezy organ quote of the standard doxology hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy (God in Three Persons)."The subject matter is, in part, the derivation of religious and other symbolic images from the naturally erotic... but that's only part of it. Please give this one a listen.


The Commercial Single was released to promote The Commercial Album. It was released in the United Kingdom and France and, despite being called a single, included eight songs: six songs from the album and two (unlisted) bonus tracks, all clocking in at one minute.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The REZ WORLD CD compilation series is an idea that I have had in which from time to time I will be posting exclusive mixes that have been put together my myself. The CD's in this collection will usualy be themed and span the music of a certain time or era in the Residents body of work. The compilations will include music that has previously been released from actual Residents recordings as well as many never before released tracks, outtakes, rarities and oddities all from studio sessions and/or live performances. Each CD posted will include the front and back inlay artwork created by myself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

DUCK STAB (1978)

Sandwiched in between Third Reich and Roll, Eskimo, and The Commercial Album, Duck Stab/Buster & Glen hasn't always received the fanfare of other late-'70s Residents material. It's one of the few that isn't a concept album and probably the least experimental of the bunch. Still, it's quintessential Residents' rock — which is to say, it's like nothing else on the planet. Few of the songs last longer than a couple of minutes, and only a few instruments can be heard at any given time. Rather than relying on guitars, the Residents stick to the relatively primitive synthesizers and electronic gadgets of their time. Chorus chants on "Bach Is Dead" meet with a melody that sounds like a cross between a sixth grader playing recorder and someone scratching on a balloon. Snakefinger's nasally vocals fit in all too well with their high-pitched electronica, which then somehow merges with funereal marching percussion. It seems annoying and stupid at first, but over time you feel compelled to listen again and again. Such is the glory of the Residents!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The story of the Talking Light piece is basically that of an older man who questions, not only decisions he made as a teenager, but also if the events he remembers from that time happened at all. "A dead infant clutching a ring with an inscription the teenager cannot read" is the stuff of dreams. The following stories in the show may or may not shed light on the inscription. Questions remain unanswered. The Residents study death, not as a horrific end, but as the ultimate question that we all ask while wondering if any of it is even real. This entry features part 2 of the live Talking Light performance that The Residents played at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium on April 28th 2010. It includes the video footage of that show split into four individual parts.

Part 2

Sunday, August 29, 2010


If you have been following this blog than you probably noticed that I had previously posted The Disfigured Night Fillmore show along with a description of The Disfigured Night story. In this posting you will find the audio track only from the live performance the band did at the Marlboro Eyeball Experience in 1997 that was later released on DVD. Being that you should already know The Disfigured Night story I decided to post the lyrics so all you REZ fans can follow along at home.....enjoy. I will be posting video shortly.

DISFIGURED NIGHT Lyrics: Silly Billy bought his breakfast from a fat old man, who cooked his eggs and bacon in a big black frying pan; The pan was made of metal that was once an army tank, holding soldiers with their wounds that oozed until they stank; And every time the breakfast man put eggs upon his plate, the yellow yokes stared up as Billy cut them, then he ate; He saw the eggs as bulging boils that burst when they are poked, he tasted tears from someone's fear, and made a silly joke.

The rest of his day like all the others moved along a path, Filled with visions of somebody's pain inflicted past; He saw a woman raped by brothers who had left her in the back seat of a Chevy that had honked its horn at him; A chance encounter with a clown once made him scratch his hand from a case of hives and then he met a mad milkman, whose sister swallowed shards of glass inside a sugar rose, and died with blood exploding from her mouth and from her nose.

He lived alone inside a world of other people's pain, isolated from their joy and love his life retained its innocence because he couldn't hear or speak a word, releasing pain as easy as a tree releases birds; It even made him happy in a strange and funny way, reversing misery to joy and agony to play; They called him Silly Billy when they saw his sappy face, but no one knew it came from someone's less than happy fate.

Then one day he met a monkey sitting in the rain; The ape, who somehow lost a leg, would soon make Billy change; The vision that the monkey made, when Billy touched his paw, was not too different from the ones he all too often saw: a little girl with golden hair, who also had one leg, was crying by a bowl that cripples sometimes use to beg; But then another vision came, as Billy sat and stared, he realized the monkey and the girl were once a pair; With their two good legs the cripples made each other strong, but what really blasted Billy was the young girl's song. Isolated in his mind, his world had been complete, until a simple song released his undiscovered need; With that wistful melody repeating in his brain, Billy hesitated, looking out into the rain; For, despite the things he'd seen, a mystery remained until the purpose of those other people was explained; But in the ape and girl he saw a perfect usefulness, so Billy vowed to reunite them in the present tense.

Soon the crippled chimp and Billy set out on their way, but then another question came and with it was dismay; If life was nothing more than just a vehicle for pain, he could not see why he was free, but that was soon to change; While Billy once had been immune to agony and sorrow, he soon began to feel the dark emotions that he borrowed.

Billy and his new companion traveled everywhere looking for the little girl with gold and curly hair; No longer seeing other beings like he saw the wind, For the first time in his life, the dummy had a friend; Smiling, laughing, playing games and knowing that he cared, while mumbling the melody into the empty air; Yes, for Billy life was different than it was before but change was not just knocking, it was breaking down the door.

Soon the manchild and chimp were walking down the street, when they saw a taxi driver with a piece of meat; As Billy bumped the driver's shoulder, visions formed inside his mind of something slowly sliced to pieces 'til it died; Instead of smiling as he would on any other day, Billy hit the ground face first, weeping all the way; Devastated by the shock of feeling death and pain, Billy began to understand what he had lost and gained;

With increasing frequency, more incidents occurred: Dead babies cried from safety pins and memories from birds told of chicks that left their nests and fell beneath the feet of cattle who were not concerned with tiny things that tweet; He felt a mother's misery whose child had become blind, and a cancer victim's will to live, as it declined.

Soon the pain became so great they only moved at night, as Billy tried to blind his mind from everything in sight; And the goofy grin that once resided on his face, now reflected his infected fall into disgrace; Where a sweetness once had radiated from his pores, now his face was covered up with festers, welts and sores; around the sores was scar tissue resembling a pox that made his skin look like some thinly coated clumps of rocks; Surrounding those were tiny blisters popping constantly; Overall his face recalled a charbroiled Christmas tree;

But as his life descended into black and blacker pain, two sympathetic little points of light remained unchanged; The monkey and the song were always there regardless of the pain he felt from someone else's loss or lack of love; The song provided nourishment for Billy's beaten soul, and the monkey made him smile, while they pursued their goal; Then one day as Billy pulled the monkey from the mud, it wheezed and sneezed and filled the air with tiny drops of blood; with heat projecting from its skin and fluid from its eyes, the monkey barely breathed for two more days and then it died; Sorrow soaked in Billy's bones and numbness in his neck, but nothing had prepared him for the impact that was next; Exploding in a choking scream, his sadness was so strong, it blotted out the memory of Billy's sacred song.

Devastated and alone he crawled beneath a bush, coiled himself into a ball, and imitated mush; Drifting deep into despair an opening appeared, above and below, it opened up around him everywhere; The hole was like a vacuum cleaner sucking him into a dark and barren emptiness that clung to him like glue; Losing containment like the raindrops in a hurricane, Floating like a limpid flower in a sewer drain, down and and down and down it sucked him 'til there was nothing left, except a tiny hand held mirror and an unwrapped gift; Desperately he ripped it open and found inside the box the monkey's head which winked and grinned and bit his left leg off.

Horrified he screamed in painful agony and cried, and then the mirror drifted up and stopped before his eyes causing him to watch as teardrops healed his open sores while noticing how long his golden hair had grown before realizing that he looked just like the little girl, and then he drifted back into a cold and lifeless world.

A huge white hand reached out above his head as he awoke; "Perhaps it's God," he thought he saw, inside a long white coat; As his eye moved down to where a right leg should have been, he saw a wooden crutch that touched the floor right next to him; The hand moved down to stroke his cheek and quickly he was filled with memories of melodies that mocked his mind until he saw the golden hair cascading down below her waist, and realized what he had heard was nothing but a taste; At once his mind was wild with words that he had never known defining lines inside the song with light and liquid tones; He sat up straight and radiated life from far within the center of his soul where pain and darkness once had been; Then, like the sunshine in the summer fills the air with birds, Billy stood upon his bed and filled the air with words.