The Residents - Meet The Residents / The Third Reich ’N Roll album review

The best and worst of the San Francisco art-rockers reissued

Cover art for The Residents - Meet The Residents / The Third Reich ’N Roll album

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Meet The Residents was not rock, not classical, not blues and not jazz […] some who heard it thought it wasn’t music at all,” say the sleeve-notes to the reissue of the phenomenal 1974 debut album from The Residents.

It’s difficult to explain in 2017 the impact Meet The Residents (910) had upon those few of us fortunate to hear it in 1977. The Residents weren’t interested in traditional forms of expression or recording techniques – although the anonymous, eyeball-sporting San Francisco art-rock outsiders clearly had a morbid dislike for The Beatles.

Much of this debut album is screaming and distortion and uncanny disorientating vocal sounds, and always that tinny piano and sense of wrongness.

Unbearably sad in places, unbearably funny, every now and then the album would break out into bona fide deconstruction. The rampant jagged groove of N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues) is what Zappa could have sounded like if he’d been any fucking good at all; the lamenting Smelly Tongues melts hearts 40 years on.

Seasoned Greetings and Spotted Pinto Queen hint at the unparalleled heights the band would later (earlier?) reach on Not Available. So beautiful, so forlorn, so unaccountably brilliant.

The reissue comes with a bonus mono mix and oodles of rubbish/brilliance, including the legendary Santa Dog EP, which is an absolute stone-cold classic.

During the 1970s, The Residents released four of the greatest albums known to eyeball – Meet…, Not Available, the fantastically realised Commercial Album, and the ultimate Inuit soundtrack, Eskimo. They also released two of the worst – the disco remix of Eskimo (Diskomo) and The Third Reich ’N Roll (210), a pastiche of 1950s rock’n’roll with a Nazi leitmotif. It was worse than it sounds.

Recordings of classic songs were ripped apart and reassembled with no effort whatsoever. The result? Whoa.

You’ll still want to buy this reissue, though, because it contains the creepiest version of the Stones’ Satisfaction ever committed to vinyl.

It’s got a fucking amazing sleeve as well.

Everett True

Everett True started life as The Legend!, publishing the fanzine of that name and contributing to NME. Subsequently he wrote for some years for Melody Maker, for whom he wrote seminal pieces about Nirvana and others. He was the co-founder with photographer Steve Gullick of Careless Talk Costs Lives, a deliberately short-lived publication designed to be the antidote to the established UK music magazines.