Ian Shirley: Never Known Questions: Five Decades Of The Residents

All you needs to know and more in this fan’s must-have.

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The Residents were and are the oddest band of all time. They’re also one of the hardest to document. While every other cult artist from Amon Düül to Frank Zappa has left a trail of interviews, films and coherent archive material, The Residents have cultivated what they call “the theory of obscurity” with a degreee of success almost unthinkable in the modern era.

Even now, the identities of the band members are still open to speculation, a remarkable feat in an age when we know who played what on even the most obscure rockabilly single.

Record Collector writer and long-time Residents fan Ian Shirley takes this on board and copes with it brilliantly. He begins the story with forgotten 60s band The Alliance, takes us to the launch of the Santa Dog EP in 1972, and then to documentaries and films in the present day, in a book which is detailed, informative and, equally importantly, devoid of fact-free speculation.

Here you will find no made-up insights, only closely packed information, research and detail, all leavened by Shirley’s enthusiasm for the band. This book a fan’s dream, a scholar’s envy and a fitting tribute to the eyeball kids.

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.