Tanner Babcock

The Residents

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Year Title Rating
1972 The Warner Bros. Album 6.5/10
1972 Baby Sex 7.5/10
1973 Santa Dog 7/10
1974 Meet the Residents 8/10
1976 The Third Reich 'n' Roll 7.5/10
1977 Fingerprince 7/10
1978 Not Available 9/10
1978 Duck Stab/Buster & Glen 7/10
1979 Eskimo 8/10
1980 The Commercial Album 6/10
1980 Snakefinger - Greener Postures 7.5/10
1981 Mark of the Mole 7/10
1982 Tunes of Two Cities 6/10
1984 >>Whatever Happened to Vileness Fats? .../...
1985 >>The Census Taker .../...
1985 The Big Bubble: Part Four of the Mole Trilogy 7/10
1988 >>God in Three Persons .../...
1989 >>The King and Eye .../...
1990 >>Freak Show .../...
1992 >>Our Finest Flowers .../...
1994 Gingerbread Man 5/10
1995 >>Hunters .../...
1996 >>Have a Bad Day .../...
1998 >>Wormwood: Curious Stories from the Bible .../...

The Residents is a group (or rather, a multimedia art collective) you kind of have to explain to people. Over their 40-year career, the band never revealed their identities, their names and faces were always hidden. They had an anonymous approach to music, a possible dadaist design to counter the hyper-sensationalized pop music industry. They were not a band that could benefit from their looks, or their appearances, or even their reputations or connections, at all. They were obscure and elusive on purpose. Now, everyone knows this about our eyeball-clad Christmas pals. But, there are a few things most people have not considered:

The Residents were not always four people. Just because they appear as four people in the promo photos, and in their live shows (except recently), the studio recordings may or may not include a wide ensemble. Something like their seminal post-satire Meet the Residents could have been made with three guys, and then their masterpiece Not Available could have a team of six or seven. And they might not have even been the same people. They could have kicked out and replaced their band members (maybe even the whole band) without anyone knowing. Another thing to consider in their body of work is the shift of creative control between bandmates. Many groups have one guy write the songs for years, and then someone else takes control, and the original songwriter plays a smaller role. Maybe the original Residents all died in a plane crash, and their marketing teams covered it up and replaced them with Doppelgangers. Maybe that's why albums like Tunes of Two Cities and Gingerbread Man are disappointment incarnate, and albums like Eskimo and Fingerprince are mind-bending spellcasters. Every Residents creation has no real credits or copyright owners other than The Residents.

In 2013 or so, the "official" (?) Residents "revealed" that they were in fact a trio, "Randy, Chuck, and Bob". This was the year they announced the ten refrigerators that each had first pressings of every Residents release. This manic publicity stunt (out of many intentional gimmicks and art projects) offered these enormous kitchen appliances for sale, for $100,000 each (yes, really). They each included an "official" eyeball-and-top-hat mask, supposedly worn by the "original" Residents. This institution is an enigma, and that is precisely why they're so deservedly acclaimed. And yet the average rock listener considers them a novelty or a leftfield outsider. I haven't even talked about the radical dadaist genius of their actual music yet.

I highly recommend the legendary demo tapes, The Warner Bros. Album and Baby Sex (that's actually what it's called), to see the infancy of this continuous stream of high-level abstractions.