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.

Friday, August 27, 2010

ESKIMO (1979)

The most rewarding, the most difficult, and the most accomplished of all the Residents' albums, this was their departure into the field of imaginary ethno-musicography that they had begun on "Six Things to a Cycle" on Fingerprince. Ostensibly a musical documentary on the Eskimo, this is an album of icy atmospheres, poetic electronics, and imaginary landscapes, concocted around a loose narrative told in the liner notes. There's also a subtheme of indigenous populations overrun by western commercialism (is that native chant actually "Coca Cola is Life"?). Ex-Henry Cow member Chris Cutler plays a lot of the percussion on the album, especially on the finale, "Festival of Death," the only real piece of rhythmic music here, which shines out as anything but dark or sinister. In any other group's hands this would have been a pretentious disaster, but the Residents pull it off through spirit, humor, and sheer bravado.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Subterranean Modern was Ralph Records' first album involving music from anyone other than The Residents or Snakefinger (with the exception of the very limited work with Schwump). The idea was to widen Ralph's appeal by bringing a greater variety of styles into the label. To this end Ralph had four band submit contributions on the theme of "San Francisco". Each was required to include a version of Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco. The four bands chosen were The Residents (of course), Chrome, Tuxedomoon, and MX-80 Sound. The Residents' contribution to the album was a four-part work called The Replacement about a man who's life is being drained away and replaced with that of another man.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Narrated by Penn & Teller, this documentary covers the first 19 years of The Residents' career. It includes clips from videos, live shows, and comments from people who work with The Residents such as Homer Flynn and Hardy Fox of the Cryptic Corporation. (There are no interviews with the Eyeball Guys themselves -- they don't like to talk.) The video contains parts from most of their videos as well as excerpts from various TV appearances not available elsewhere, such as the performances of From the Plains to Mexico and Teddy Bear from their appearance on David Sanborn's Night Music. The Eyes Scream was directed by John Sanborn, who also directed the live sequences on the Freak Show Video. The video is approx. 50 minutes and is split up into 5 parts here.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Monday, August 16, 2010


Satisfaction is a cover of the famous song by the Rolling Stones, recorded as a three-minute distillation of the ideas behind The Third Reich 'N' Roll. It features Snakefinger on guitar and backing vocals by The Pointless Sisters. The Wire magazine had this to say about Satisfaction in their September, 1998, article "100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening)": "If there was one record that told you the 60s were over, then this was it. The Clash may have crowed, "no Rolling Stones in 1977", but their rethoric was just gasbag posturing compared to this, a blowtorch evisceration of Jagger and Richard's song that reduces their original to a piece of marketable rebellion fluff (Wham!'s "Bad Boys" with a better riff). The Residents start from the premise that there are rather more serious things to be unsatisfied about than romance or advertising things like total mental breakdown, a condition they proceed to delineate with unbearably off-key guitars and a vocal that sounds like the most haunted, driven, raging man alive. It's excruciating, purifying and hilarious, and if inflicted on friends it usually receives two of the highest possible accolades: "Take that fucking thing off", and "They weren't being serious, were they?"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DOT.COM (2000)

In 2000, Ralph Records America collected all of the MP3's they had released on the Buy Or Die website on a CD entitled Each MP3 is a never-before-released track from The Residents' history, dating from 1969 to 2000. Walter Westinghouse, track 9, was a bonus: it had never come out in MP3 format, but only appeared on this CD. The compilation was limited to 1,200 numbered copies.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Fingerprince was conceived as the world’s first three sided album. The Residents never specified whether it would be a double record with one side blank, or a single album with two concentric grooves on one side. They probably toyed with the idea of making it triangular! However they’d planned to do it, Ralph Records decided the albums would be uneconomical to manufacture, so Fingerprince became a conventional two-sided LP. The leftover songs were relegated to a proposed EP, Babyfingers. Due to considerable artistic distractions (the most notable being Eskimo), Babyfingers was not released in the actual EP format until 1979, but four of its five songs had appeared on The Residents Radio Special cassette in 1977. The songs whose importance would become apparent soon were “You, Yesyesyes,” “Tourniquet of Roses” and the songs jettisoned to Babyfingers, which point the way towards the wacky, sinister pop of Duck Stab, Subterranean Modern, etc. Fingerprince provided the blueprints for their future original compositions and although it may not be a great album, historically it is an important album for The Residents.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SANTA DOG '92 (1992)

The final release from the Residents' fan club label, this was a slim, vinyl-sleeve package, containing a 12 minute long revisiting of the song they've been revisiting every four years. It's both a step forward and a step back: the minimalist musings here offer some of the scariest sounding work they have done for years. On the other hand, a careful listen to the lyrics reveal a strange desire to set their now familiar surreal chorus of "Santa Dog's a Jesus Fetus" into a narrative context. The last two minutes of the piece turn from deathly to some sort of uplifting resolution.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BLOWOFF (1992)

As mentioned in my previous post, this is the CD that was included in the hard bound version of the Freak Show comic book/graphic novel. Because it was limited just like the comic book the CD was later offered in the Ralph America catalogue for individual purchase. A nice little companion piece.


The Freak Show comic book from Dark Horse Comics features an impressive collection of artists, each illustrating one song from the album (with the exception of Kyle Baker who handles both the opening and closing songs and ties all the others together with his renditions of Tex the Barker). There is also a special limited to 1,000 copies hard-cover edition of the comic which included a 13-minute CD called Blowoff, inspired by the songs on the Freak Show album.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Just as the CD cover reads, this is the intermission music from The Residents Wormwood Tour. This mood music was designed specifically to be played during the break between acts of the shows. The music, which is one track over twenty minutes long is some very cool laid back trip/hip-hoppish beats and textures, overlaid, quite haphazardly at times, by some very old-sounding gospel records. This was in a limited release of only 1,000 copies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The Residents For Presidents is a fairly well known bootleg release that was recorded live at The 13th Anniversary Show in (presumably) Bochum, Germany 1986. With Rez classics such as Hello Skinny, Constantinople, Smelly Tongues, Tourniquet Of Roses and It's A Man's Man's Man's World, fans can consider this set as a kind of live greatest hits package. The recording was released on vinyl only and has 18 songs which were stretched over two sides. The sound quality is well listenable for a bootleg. As a special note, Snakefinger is featured here and is in his top guitar form.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Technically the third album from the group, though released as a follow-up to Meet the Residents, this 40-minute assault on the music of the '60s follows Picasso's dictum of all artists killing their (aesthetic) fathers. Two side-long medleys of songs both classic ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag") and obscure ("Telstar") are destroyed, deconstructed, mangled, spat on, spit out, ground up, and injected with gleeful humor. If there's any concept here, it's that the brain-numbing catchiness of pop music was fascism in disguise, keeping teenyboppers docile while selling them rebellion, hence the cover art of a gestapo-uniformed Dick Clark holding a carrot. Whether it's only much-suppressed love for these songs (as they went on to return again and again to the themes and artists examined here, including James Brown, "Land of 1000 Dances," and "Double Shot"), it's up to the listener to decide. Mostly any fan of the group will spend many hours trying to decode all the songs here, all the time with a smile on their face. (Officially, there are 29 songs, but there could be more).

Thursday, July 8, 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 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 1

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Assorted Secrets, in a shorter form than what is poted here, first appeared as a cassette only release in 1984. This was the period where The Residents were rather short on funds after the artistic success/financial disaster of the Mole Show and the archives were raided for anything that could fill the Cryptic coffers. What you hear here is the band trying to work out how to transfer their often complex, studio based works into an acceptable live format. Some of it sounds a little flat, some of it is absolutely fascinating. Festival Of Death is of particular interest, an attempt to play a large section of the Eskimo album almost note for note. It's quite astounding and a glimpse of what a live Eskimo might have been like before the Moles got all the action. Mark Of The Mole gets a good look in here, with the entire album being performed live in front of a small invited audience. The Residents purport to hate this one, while over the years fans have begged for its release. Are our heroes ashamed of the (technically) terrible playing on Smack Your Lips? Is it the various bumps, coughs and pieces of paper being rattled heard throughout these recordings that makes them cringe? Is it the complete drop out of sound at 1:41 on Call Of The wild that embarrasses them? Do we care about such minor blemishes? Of course not! The fans love it all the same and this is well worth a listen.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The Residents had long planned to produce a children's record -- of sorts. Goosebump is a collection of Mother Goose rhymes set to music with all of the "original sinister overtones" left in place. They teamed up with their long-time collaborator Snakefinger and recorded the songs using only musical instruments bought at Toys-R-Us. Although children's toys were used to produce the music, The Residents grown-up toys were used afterwards in the mixing of the recording.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


In the early 1990s MTV created an unusual TV series called Liquid Television. Liquid Television was a series of short (one- to ten-minute) "alternative" animated films which would appear between segments. One of the shorts was Henry Sellick's Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions, for which The Residents wrote the music. The art directory was Ronald Davis, who had created the Cubo-Residents for the Cube-E tour, contributed a character story to Bad Day on the Midway, and did design work for Freak Show Live. In addition to airing on MTV in February, 1991, the animated film toured with Expanded Entertainment's International Tournée of Animation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Here The Residents purport to interpret N. Senada's 1937 piece The Big Toe (or Thumb) Of Christ. It is said that the composer would build a piece by appropriating the works of others, though he would leave holes in the "blueprint" for others to fill. Thus The Residents recreate a work that steals heavily from classical music, filling in the gaps with television theme tunes such as Popeye The Sailor Man and The Theme From Star Trek. The finished result sounds as good as the idea, an impressive musical collage, the highlight is their rendition of Carmina Burana by Orff. Pollex Christi is deliberately very difficult to play, because Senada wanted mistakes. "They introduce unimaginable variations into the music," he said. "If the audience wants perfectly played music, let them listen to angels. Human music should stumble along most pitifully."This recording was originally released in a limited edition of 400 numbered copies.


The second release on the Residents' fan club label is a studio recording of music written for the wake of their longtime guitarist and friend Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman, who died of a heart attack while on tour in 1987. This 20-minute suite begins with a propulsive, almost danceable version of Hank Williams' "Six More Miles to the Graveyard," which the group had already covered a year before on Stars & Hank Forever. What follows is a four-part composition that brings in old English laments, church bell scales, a twisted bossa nova beat, cathartic screams, and distant yelps. Maybe unsurprisingly, there is no guitar to be heard anywhere on the album. A very personal album, hence its limited release, but better than a lot of what they had been currently working on. The group was able to channel some of their anguish into the following God in Three Persons project as well, but a great chapter of the group's career had come to an end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The Residents took a long enough break from touring Wormwood while in Berlin to step into a studio and record some of the music from the live show. That gave us Roadworms. Recorded live, but with no audience. An intriguing attempt to capture a section of the Residents' Wormwood tour without actually recording live shows. Instead, they set up in a Berlin studio and recorded the live arrangements, aiming to get each song in a single take, later adding some overdubs. The result is typically quirky, having a mix of rawness and polish that makes it quite appealing to listen to.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This disc was offered as a bonus for people who pre-ordered "The Voice Of Midnight" CD from Ralph America. Originally announced to be limited to 300 copies, preorders exceeded expectations and the number of copies manufactured was bumped up to 500. This disc was manufactured by Ralph America for the Cryptic Corporation, but the label is listed as eL Ralpho. It was issued in a plastic envelope with a single card inlay.


Poor Kaw-Liga's Pain was released in 1994 which includes all the mixes from the '86 releases plus a new mix and a live version. The new mix is a beauty. This time The Residents supply the lyrics, not Hank and there's no Billy Jean riff in sight. The original berates Kaw-liga for letting the girl go, The Residents' new song explores the horror of being an inanimate figure who can only stand and watch. The live mix should have been on the 13th Anniversary Show CD years ago, it's raw and wonderful.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


A long time in the making, the Bunny Boy Comic is the next (final?) chapter in the Bunny Boy story! Illustrated by Adam Weller, with a script by The Residents (Bunny appears to have been involved, somehow...) The comic book has a full color cover and is the standard comic book size with high quality black/white printing on the inside. This was a very limited release of only 199 copies (i think).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Residents are true avant-garde crazies. Their earliest albums (of which this is the first) have precedents in Captain Beefheart's experimental albums, Frank Zappa's conceptual numbers from Freak Out!, the work of Steve Reich, and the compositions of chance music tonemeister John Cage — yet the Residents' work of this time really sounds like nothing else that exists. All of the music on this release consists of deconstructions of countless rock and non-rock styles, which are then grafted together to create chaotic, formless, seemingly haphazard numbers; the first six "songs" (including a fragment from the Nancy Sinatra hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'") are strung together to form a larger entity similar in concept to the following lengthier selections. The result is a series of unique, odd, challenging numbers that are nevertheless not entirely successful. The album cover is a fierce burlesque of the Beatles' first U.S. Capitol label release, sporting puerilely doctored photographs of the Fab Four on the front and pictures of collarless-suited sea denizens on the back (identified as Paul McCrawfish, Ringo Starfish, and the like). This is an utterly bizarre platter that may appeal to very adventurous listeners.


The first official release of Demons Dance Alone was the "Deluxe Edition", a limited edition of 3,000 numbered copies with a bonus CD. The CD's are contained in a hardback book with lyrics and a velvet-effect outer sleeve. The bonus disc features early versions of some of the tracks on the album disc plus some unreleased material that never made it on to the finished version.

Monday, May 17, 2010


This is to be considered a bit different than the Animal Lover (the regular version) release, as it has a different focus. Rather than a release of that record, simply without vocals, it has been re-approached by the group, and rearranged a bit to present the music in a new light. Of course, if you are familiar with the original recording, that will make this release all the more interesting. A limited edition release of 1,000 copies and all were numbered by hand.


This was a one sided single on transparent green vinyl and packaged in a plain white sleeve. 800 copies were made and attached to the back cover of the first edition copies of "The Cryptic Guide to The Residents" book. An often forgotten very short piece that alot of REZ fans might have never heard.

The video

Sunday, May 16, 2010

TIMMY (2006)

Timmy made his original appearance as the spunky kid in BAD DAY ON THE MIDWAY way back in 1995. Timmy returned with more of his curious insight into the workings of the world with a weekly series of very short videos that made its first appearance on July 26th, 2006. The videos were hosted by, but are accessible through as well as


The story centers around an eccentric character, the bunny boy, whose search for his missing brother compels him to post videos on the internet as a "cry for help." As the story evolves, it opens up to interaction between the bunny boy and his audience, causing the narrative to twist and turn in odd and unpredictable ways. Spanning a gap between insanity and self realization, the loony, but affable bunny boy soon finds himself pursuing a goal no less vital than saving the world from Armageddon. It's a wild ride. The stage design, by Chris McGregor (CUBE E, Wormwood, Icky Flix) featured a unique "schizophrenic" layout that allowed performers to move between musical, video, and theatric realms. Barraging the audience with imagery and sound, in typical Residents' style the performance radiates and savors the quality of a surreal circus. The group performed their music live while integrating other visual and performance elements into an evening of riveting and unique entertainment. Captured here is a live performance that took place at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago on October 17th 2008.

Set 1

Set 2

Saturday, May 15, 2010


The Residents have wanted to experiment with looser forms of music and lyrics. Talking Light is designed for performance and is based on a mix of improvisation and scoring. The concept for this project is interpretive story telling with an interactive electronic score. "What are ghosts" ask The Residents - spirits of those no longer inhabiting the flesh, but unable to leave their lives behind? Or could ghosts be a manifestation of something even less tangible, like loneliness, unfulfilled desire or isolation? In a world where nearly everything has become defined and categorized, how do we fill our obvious, purely human need for the fuzzy , vague and supernatural - with TV commercials? The ghost of a morbidly obese woman haunts her lesbian lover, filling the void of death with food commercials and Dr. Phil. A man becomes obsessed by the spirit of an executed serial killer who stuffed the mouths of his victims with Pudding Roll Ups, an extinct kid's food from the 1980's. A dead boa constrictor named Leonard (after Leonard Cohen, of course) plagues the mind of its former owner, currently consuming Oscar Meyer hot dogs by the dozen. These are just a few of the "ghost stories" told through the magic of The Residents' Talking Light.


The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play the Beatles - This is the common title of a single which has two tracks: Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life and Flying. The first track -- aka "The Beatles Play The Residents" -- is a tape collage of excerpts from songs by The Beatles. The flip side of the single, "The Residents Play The Beatles", is a cover of Flying, which was chosen for the treatment because it was the only song the band could find which credits all four Beatles as composers.


On August 16, 1997, The Residents did three performances of a 30-minute stage piece called Disfigured Night for the PopKomm music festival in Köln, Germany. The performance was sponsored by Malboro and filmed by VIVA TV (the German music TV station). The Malboro sponsorship turned out to be something of a problem. The concert was heavily promoted in Germany, with lots of photographs of the band and stories in Der Spiegel and the like. (Der Spiegel even had a link to the RzWeb -- probably the most prominent publicity this site has ever had). However, Marlboro was unhappy with Mr. Skull. They felt that a death's-head didn't fit with the image they wanted to project at the concert, and ordered that all images of Mr. Skull be removed from all promotional material. Any pictures of the skull-head were either dropped or edited so that it was replaced with an eyeball. Der Spiegel apparently dropped its link to the RzWeb because of this. The Residents were none too happy with the situation, but it was too late for them to protest and they had committed a lot of resources to the show, so they couldn't cancel out. The performances themselves went quite well and were a success. Each opened with a Resident coming out and, much to the audiences' amazement, removing his Eyeball-head. Of course, the Resident had a a head-stocking (one of the ones from Cube-E) hiding his features. The first Resident was joined by a second, also wearing a stocking over his head, and the two went to the instruments and video boards. The performance took place in front of a bluescreen on which artwork by Steve Cerio, who did the "Shooting Gallery" artwork for Bad Day on the Midway, was mixed live by one of the Residents. Once they were all set, they were joined by Silly Billy, the mute star of Disfigured Night. Silly Billy has a strange gift -- by touching a person or an object, he can "remember" the most painful events associated with him, her, or it. This makes Billy quite happy, since he feels that by touching these awful memories he is releasing them. As a result, he always has a sappy, smiling expression, which earned him the name "Silly Billy". One day he finds a one-legged monkey (the last fourth Resident) who used to belong to a one-legged golden-haired girl, who's song fills Billy's mind. Billy vows to reunite the two, but he discovers that he is no longer immune to the pain he feels when he touches people -- it starts to affect him directly. Billy's only consolation through the pain of his psychometric experiences is the monkey and when the monkey dies, Billy withdraws into himself. In his little hole, he finds a wrapped present which, on opening, turns out to contain the dead monkey's head. The head bites off Billy's leg, and slowly he transforms into the golden-haired girl whose song had haunted him. The story ends with Billy singing a frenetic version of We Are the World. All in all, it's rather confusing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Matt Howarth’s Post Brothers focused on a pair of psychotic assassins with the ability to shift between realities. Russ Post was more the enabler and dealmaker of the team – Ron Post was a wackjob that Lobo would be afraid of. Based in Bugtown a crazy cyberpunk city of no fixed abode that could give Cynosure a run for its money in the sport of Just Plain Crazy, they formed the core of an amazing sci-fi universe that spread across several titles over their publishing life. At around the same time he started Post Bros, Matt had done a series of minicomics for Ralph Records starring the characters from The Residents’ current Magnum Opus, The Mole Trilogy. So when Bugtown started to take shape, The Residents followed. But not just in a cameo; they were wholly integrated characters in the books. The Residents were quasi-mystical beings who helped keep Bugtown running properly. They used empty hats as portals to enter rooms. They made a series that was already edgy and experimental and truly out of this world.


Historically, one of THE RESIDENTS’ primary obsessions has been the creation of alternative worlds. Sometimes this has been accomplished with sound - Mark of the Mole, Not Available, God In Three Persons; sometimes with live performance - The Moleshow; and sometimes with video - The Third Reich N’ Roll, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, and, perhaps more than any other project - the unfinished feature length video, Vileness Fats. The world of Vileness Fats, consisting of a village, a cave, a desert and a nightclub, is tiny, claustrophobic and primarily populated by one armed midgets ...or “little people” - if we remain within those contemporary standards endorsed by the politically correct. So what purpose could THE RESIDENTS have possibly realized by creating this tiny world full of mutant midgets? Some would say it was a brilliant way of adapting to their limits: working in a small studio with a ceiling height of under 12 feet, THE RESIDENTS were still able to create a fairly large bridge set, a cave, and a night club by making all the actors squat down and hop. Others might say that the group was so naive and inexperienced that the only way they could possibly camouflage their spirited, but amateurish writing, acting, music, direction and production techniques was by creating a world that was so completely ALTERNATIVE, that it defied comparison to anything in the so called “real” world. With THE RESIDENTS, of course, one never knows, but what is known is that the group spent four years from 1972-76 shooting anywhere from 60%-75% of the projected feature length video. Then, as the project was headed towards the ending stages of production, the group suddenly abandoned its “all time underground masterpiece.” Some say the “movie,” as they called it, was brought to a halt by internal conflicts within the group, others say the technological challenges left in the remaining scenes, as well as post-production problems, were too difficult to overcome, while others point to the fact that, since there were no viable distribution channels available for movies shot on half inch B&W video in 1976, the group’s initial naiveté was finally overcome by reality. Again, we’ll never know. Two versions of the incomplete feature have been released: the 32 min long “Whatever Happened to Vileness Fats?” (1984) and the tighter 17 1/2 min “Vileness Fats (Concentrate)” (2001), and both come across as artifacts from some hellish but mildly amusing nightmare - the claustrophobic product of a model railroad builder’s beyond bad acid trip. Due to the extremely poor audio quality of the original footage, both are primarily silent films with RESIDENTS’ soundtracks, and while there is some attempt to explain the plot, the result is not unlike pitching horseshoes in a closet - unsatisfying at best. Again, some say the obvious explanation is that there was no script - that the story and dialog was purely improvised, that THE RESIDENTS made it up as they shot. But, according to the group, these rumors are untrue.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The Warner Bros. Album is the title of an album's worth of early recordings by the then-unnamed avant garde group, The Residents, sent to the Warner Bros. record label in the hopes of obtaining a record contract. The band mailed it anonymously to Harve Halverstadt, who worked at the label with Captain Beefheart, one of the band's musical heroes. The tape was rejected and returned, addressed to "Residents, 20 Sycamore St., San Francisco". This is the origin of the group's name, which was at first "The Residents, Uninc." but was later shortened to The Residents. The Residents agree that Halverstadt made the right decision, as the tapes were of poor quality. The entire album was broadcast on an Oregon radio station in 1977 during a Residents Radio Festival, and was later heavily reworked for release in 2003 as WB: RMX. Otherwise, the album has never been released.

BABY SEX (1971)

Baby Sex is the title of an unreleased recording by The Residents. The title is lifted from the cover, an image of a woman performing oral sex on an infant boy - an image which was lifted from a pornographic magazine from Denmark. While The Residents are known to be incredibly embarrassed by their early works (and strive to keep them unreleased in their original form) they may be reasonably proud of Baby Sex, as several tracks from this have appeared on compilations. It was also broadcast in its entirety on a radio station in Oregon during a Residents Radio Festival in 1977. The second half of the album is a studio collage which includes portions of The Residents' impromptu live performance at San Francisco's Boarding House in October 1971. Assisted by Snakefinger and N. Senada they staged a "terrorist attack" on the club, performing for thirty minutes. The album also features a cover of Frank Zappa's "King Kong".


Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, the Residents remained a riddle of Sphinx-like proportions; cloaking their lives and music in a haze of willful obscurity, the band's members never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise — usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks — and refusing to grant media interviews. Drawing inspiration from the likes of fellow innovators including Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart, the Residents channeled the breadth of American music into their idiosyncratic, satiric vision, their mercurial blend of electronics, distortion, avant-jazz, classical symphonies and gratingly nasal vocals reinterpreting everyone from John Philip Sousa to James Brown while simultaneously expanding the boundaries of theatrical performance and multimedia interaction.
It was commonly accepted that the four-member group emigrated to San Francisco, CA, from Shreveport, LA, at some point in the early '70s. According to longtime group spokesman Jay Clem — one member of the so-called Cryptic Corporation, the band's representative body — they received their name when Warner Bros. mailed back their anonymous demo tape, addressed simply "for the attention of residents." Finding no takers for their oddball sounds, the Residents founded their own label, Ralph Records, for the purposes of issuing their 1972 debut "Santa Dog," released in a pressing of 300 copies which were mailed out to luminaries from Frank Zappa to President Richard Nixon. Their debut full-length, 1974's Meet the Residents, reportedly sold fewer than 50 copies before the group was threatened with a lawsuit from Capitol Records over its cover, a twisted Dadaesque parody of the art to Meet the Beatles.
The follow-up, 1974's neo-classical excursion Not Available, was recorded with the intention of its music remaining unissued; locked in cold storage upon its completion, only a 1978 contractual obligation resulted in its eventual release. Released in 1976, Third Reich 'n' Roll was the next official offering, a collection of pop oldies covers presented in a controversial jacket portraying Adolf Hitler clutching an enormous carrot. After a 1976 concert in Berkeley, CA which cloaked the Residents behind an opaque screen, wrapped up like mummies — the most famous of only three live performances mounted during their first decade of existence — they issued an abrasive 1977 cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," which became an underground hit on both sides of the Atlantic at the peak of the punk movement. As the decade drew to a close, the group released a flurry of recordings, further building upon their growing cult following — among them were 1977's Duck Stab/Buster & Glen; 1979's Eskimo (purportedly a collection of native Arctic chants); and 1980's Commercial Album, a compilation of 40 one-minute "pop songs" that aired on San Francisco radio only because the Residents played them during the advertising time they bought.
In 1981 the Residents embarked upon their Mole Trilogy, a prog rock collection of albums — 1981's The Mark of the Mole, 1982's The Tunes of Two Cities, and 1985's The Big Bubble — recounting an epic battle between a pair of tribes named the Moles and the Chubs; a lavish, multimedia tour, The Mole Show, followed. In the interim, the group also mounted another ambitious project, the American Composer series, although only two of the projected titles — 1984's George and James (a reinterpretation of songs by George Gershwin and James Brown) and 1986's Stars and Hank Forever (celebrating John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams) — ever appeared. Instead, in the wake of financial and corporate difficulties which resulted in the creation of a New Ralph label, the Residents issued the one-off God in Three Persons (a talking blues outing), and 1989's The King and Eye (a reinterpretation of Elvis Presley standards).
After losing control of the Ralph label as well as their back catalog, the Residents regained the rights to their music in 1990 and began reissuing long out of print material as well as the new Freak Show, a meditation on circus sideshows and carnival dementia. Four years later, Freak Show was reissued as a CD-ROM, marking the group's first leap into the new digital interactive technology; Have a Bad Day followed in 1996, and included the soundtrack to the CD-ROM game Bad Day on the Midway.
In 1997, the band celebrated their silver anniversary with the release of the career-spanning overview Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses. Wormwood: Curious Stories from the Bible followed the next year, with Roadworms (songs from Wormwood as performed in the stage show) being issued in mid-2000. They followed that up with the Icky Flix DVD, an incredibly detailed collection of their videos that featured both old and new soundtracks, 5.1 digital stereo Surround Sound, countless hidden videos, and in-depth histories of each individual track. A subsequent tour incorporated the DVD, while guest singer Molly Harvey joined the band on-stage for some truly creative duets. Several high concept projects followed the 2002 compilation Petting Zoo. The first was Demons Dance Alone, a complicated pop album that recalled the catchier material from Duck Stab and The Commercial Album. The live retrospective Kettles of Fish on the Outskirts of Town contained three CDs and a DVD. Despite the release of so much old content, new material wasn't in short supply. Their releases throughout the latter end of the 2000s' first decade included Animal Lover (2005), Tweedles! (2006), The River of Crime (2006), The Voice of Midnight (2007), The Bunny Boy (2008), The Ughs! (2009), and Ten Little Piggies (a sneak peak at projects in the pipeline, released in 2009). Much of it, of course, was highly conceptual.