Review Summary: The Residents make music like music had never been made before.
If there is a band that defines the word “weird” in music, it’s The Residents. From the start of their career, they have been making music so bizarre, so out of the ordinary, and so ***ed-up that it’s sometimes it’s hard to come to terms with that fact that this group exists. Instead of making upbeat and uplifting music that make you feel good to be alive, The Residents do the total opposite. Their music isn't catchy or happy, it’s ugly and terrifying. They give you a bitter and disturbing vision of what life really is: A cold, dark, and endless void of pain, suffering, and depression. It’s a harsh and scary way to look at life, but it’s the most truthful way. The Residents aren't for many people, and that is understandable. But, if you really want to hear how disturbing and unnerving “music” can get, how far it can go to completely mess with you, then The Residents first album, Meet The Residents, will surely make you think about music differently
Throughout the album, The Residents hit all the wrong notes in the right way. It opens up with a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” (which is now simply titled “Boots) that sounds absolutely NOTHING like the original. It’s brilliantly wrong that one wonders if The Residents had never even heard the original song, and did a cover only having the lyrics at hand.
The rest of the album is like this. Everything through the entire album is off. The production is terrible, the editing is atrocious, the singing is awful…I could go on. Those aren't complaints, by the way, but rather compliments. What makes this album so great is how The Residents turn something that is a chaotic mess into “music”. The awful production of this masterpiece only improves its strength rather than ruining it. If someone goes out and decides to remaster this album, or simply turn it from stereo to mono, it will surely ruin the album.
The best pieces of noise here are the longer and more drawn out tracks. On “Spotted Pinto Bean”, we hear a work of art that sounds like a Christmas Carol written by Satan; On “Infant Tango”, The Residents write a Captain Beefheart-like song that makes Captain Beefheart’s music seem normal; And finally, we come to the album’s nine minute grand finale: N-ER-GEE. There is no possible way on earth I can even begin to summarize this…thing. I’ll leave it to you to listen.
The album, from start to finish, shows us how far music can go beyond the limits. It shows us that music isn’t meant to be a part of a formula or meant to be superficial…it shows us that music is meant to be free and honest. The result of this album is a flawless masterpiece of flaws. The Residents keep on going after this, but never quite reached the level of brilliancy of Meet The Residents (although Third Reich and Roll is just as good). I recommend this album to anyone who hates music that’s catchy and predictable. Listen to this album, and you’ll never hear music the same way again.