Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Residents
Meet the Residents

Released 1973 on Ralph Records
Reviewed by The Singing Eyeball, 02/07/2000ce

My girlfriend saw this in a secondhand record store and was adamant that we wasn't leaving until we bought it. I'd heard of The Residents before, but never heard anything by them. I took her word for it, bought the record, went home and played it. Within a few minutes, I remembered where I'd heard of this album before. Q magazine compiled a list of the most unlistenable albums of all time, and Meet The Residents was in the list. I could understand why; mangled tape loops, hollering and the queasiest brass sections I'd ever heard all assembled in a way that seemed to be designed to sound as discordant as possible. I filed the album away not expecting to listen again.

Later that night I was in bed, and couldn't get to sleep. There were melodies lodged inside my skull and I couldn't put my finger on where I'd heard them before; that and a female voice singing "length and breadth...and breadth and width...and with and without...". I'm sure you've guessed that the music in my head was the artwank I'd dismissed earlier.

Listening to the album again (and again and again) and finding out about The Residents other records (especially The Third Reich and Roll) the record made more sense to me. My theory is that the classic age of US radio is so deep within the soul of The Residents, that the only record that they could make was a "phonetic organization" of a top 40 radio station. Just as DJ's would play the best minute and a half or so the latest garage, soul or pop hits before fading it out into another great single before the listener gets bored, The Residents weld together a collage of the most annoyingly catchy riffs and tunes leaving the listener initally confused and later hooked.

The albums sleeve notes state " Let the strangeness wear off through a couple of plays. Soon you too will whistle the mery tunes."
They're not lying.

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