TWENTY TWISTED QUESTIONS LINER NOTES
Psychopathic recluses and artistic geniuses both know that a glimpse of reality can be a dangerous thing. It can force you to run away from the world, or compel you to spend your life confronting it.
The Residents have learned this fact of life all too well, as these reclusive geniuses/artistic psychopaths have done both for the last 20 years -- escaped popular culture and critiqued it. Twenty Twisted Questions is a career-spanning retrospective of contemporary music's meta-conceptual mythmongers, assessing what they've had to say about the world in which we live while they've been creating their own through music, video, performance, and Pour Know Graphics, all sampled here.
Turning rejection into triumph in 1972 when a Warner Bros. record exec sent back the group's demo tape in care of "The Residents", this Louisiana-raised, San Francisco-based ensemble took its name as a way of elevating anonymity to art, an attack on the age of pop celebrity that was beginning to kick in as rock's golden era was petering out. Fresh on the scene when pretentious "progressive rockers", egomaniacal super-groups, navel-contemplating singer-songwriters, inane AM radio opportunists, and deified guitar heroes of the FM dial dominated the pop universe, The Residents were everything that the early 1970s best-sellers weren't: wacky, weird, more inventive than they were musically adept, irreverent, irritating and -- above all -- conceptually astute. This was a band that was going to be as famous for its ideas as many of their contemporaries were to be forgotten fore lacking them.
A sign of what was to come, Meet The Residents was issued in 1974 with a jacket that both honored and defaced the cover art of the Fab Four's introductory LP, Meet The Beatles. The Residents set themselves up as prankster truth-tellers waging a war of wit against ingrained cultural institutions. Winning an audience wasn't going to be easy.
While waiting for fans and record contracts to materialize, The Residents turned to feature-length video production. Vileness Fats -- an unfinished but nevertheless fascinating work -- is a tribute to their own isolation. Shot in eerie black and white video with elaborate studio sets, animated live action, fantastical costumes and a soundtrack that spoofs soundtracks, this early 1970s extravaganza hints at the theatricality that was to come in the group's live show nearly 15 years later.
The Residents began finding fans during the mid-1970s punk rock boom. In 1976, they released The Third Reich 'n' Roll LP -- a collage of familiar rock riffs and chants twisted almost beyond recognition -- and Satisfaction, a single that dragged the Rolling Stones' signature song kicking and screaming into a new phase of pop fury. The Residents established themselves as alien outcasts who rebelled against rock and the culture that created it. Ironically, an early video clip from this most iconoclastic period, The Third Reich 'n' Roll, (along with 1980s One Minute Movies), was featured in a music video retrospective presented by The Museum of Modern Art and remains in MOMA's permanent collection. How's that for credibility?
Because The Residents deliberately remained anonymous and almost never performed in the first decade of their existence, the group had to invent a different kind of visual identity. In their act of re-creation, The Residents epitomized punk's do-it-yourself ethic. Their playfully grotesque home-made videos shrieked with ambition and their shock-tactic graphics screamed from the record sleeves. The quartet became instantly identifiable when it invented the "eyeball look" for its 1979 album Eskimo, which featured a photo of the group with heads shrouded under giant eyeballs, an image that implied the Residents were not simply to be glared at: these anti-icons were watching us.
Over the next decade, The Residents became more accessible as the pop world caught up to them. Their music matured, profiting from the pace of keyboard technology development, and refined into an idiosyncratic style that combined the computer tools of synth-pop, the rage of punk, the drama of horror movie soundtracks, the compositional dexterity of cartoon score, the experimentation of jazz, and the excess of opera. Always arresting and immediately identifiable, their videos' visual style also became more sophisticated, evident in recent collaborations with avant-garde video artist John Sanborn and computer animation whiz Jim Ludtke. As the 1980s drew to a close, their CUBE-E tour -- a self-proclaimed "history of American music" -- anticipated the theatrical extravaganzas of Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys. Over the last 20 years, their all-encompassing art has evolved into musical theater for the video age.
But the story isn't finished. The Residents are still very much alive and not at all well, as Freak Show -- their latest and perhaps most autobiographical work -- attests. Poised to leap into virtual reality and interactive media, The Residents will go wherever technology and their twisted imaginations take them. The video and musical goodies encoded in this disc chronicle their journey thus far. It's up to you to follow. As their Ralph Records sales pitch once so eloquently stated, it's either "Buy or die!"
Notes by Barry Walters © 1996 Tzoq Last revised: 96-02-12
THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW: LIVE IN THE USA LINER NOTES
This Special Limited Edition Two CD Set contains the complete version of The Residents' Thirteenth Anniversary Show. On December 26, 1985 one Resident had his Eyeball stolen and has been pissed off ever since. This makes the music a little meaner than before. A brief eulogy for the stolen Eyeball can be heard at the beginning of Act One. The Show toured for over a year and this show was recorded on February 10, 1986 in Minneapolis. This recording was released in a limited edition (500 -- unnumbered) two cassette package in the Spring of 1986, the recording has been digitally remastered and spiffed up a bit for this release. Once again 500 unites have been made and will be numbered and sold to UWEB members on a first come first serve basis. Hope you enjoy it. © 1996 Tzoq Last revised: 96-02-12
NIBBLES LINER NOTES
Another First For The Residents
Yes, here it is... The Residents' first truly non-concept album. So non-concept, in fact, that no one has even bothered to tell The Residents that this record has been compiled. See, this is actually a collection of various material taken from five different albums. Then one might say, "Oh, a greatest hits album", but those in the know just snicker at that. For one thing, The Residents do not have any hits. Besides, if it were a "greatest hits" collection, then it would be a concept album, and as has been previously stated, this is not a concept album.
"But what is it", one might ask, "and what is a Resident?"
Last things first. A "Resident" for our purposes is one of four alleged humans who live in San Francisco and wage cultural war on nostalgia in music (especially pop, and more especially rock). Of course, in the process these Residents end up creating some rather novel pop and rock, sometimes almost nostalgia. And the music that comes closest to nostalgia ends up here on a record that anyone with even and average imagination, wit, and intelligence can listen to and enjoy... or perhaps despise... this clever collection of musical tidbits. © 1996 Tzoq Last revised: 96-02-12
HUNTERS LINER NOTES
Hunters is an extraordinary compilation of music from the 10-part nature documentary series to be broadcast in the United States on The Discovery Channel beginning in December, 1994 (and subsequently in many other territories throughout the world).
Through the lens of Wolfgang Bayer, one of the world- renowned masters of natural history cinematography, the Hunters television series explores the many worlds of creatures that kill, examining their varied lifestyles, their strategies for survival, and the vital role they play in the world's ecosystems.
The original soundtrack for Hunters was composed in its entirety by The Residents, perhaps the most celebrated avant-garde musical group in the world. During the past two decades, The Residents have built a devoted international following for their futuristic projects, and have released nearly twenty albums, while creating numerous performance pieces, conceptual musical works, and ground-breaking scores for MTV.
In addition to their musical exploits, The Residents have been pioneers in the fields of video (two of their works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art), and, most recently CD-ROM (their initial project, Freak Show has been acclaimed as the most innovative work of its kind).
The original soundtrack album for Hunters is The Residents' latest musical masterpiece.
© 1996 Tzoq Last revised: 96-02-12