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Gingerbread Man is a 1994 album by The Residents. The group's follow-up to their successful 1991 multimedia project Freak Show, Gingerbread Man is a concept album exploring the perspectives of nine different characters, a concept further elaborated upon with the album's groundbreaking additional CD-ROM multimedia content.

History

Gingerbread Man explores the personalities of nine characters and their "rather strange outlooks on life". Each character, according to The Residents, has the titular Gingerbread Man in them somewhere, represented musically by the recurring motif: "Run, run, as fast as you can; you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man".

Each of the songs have the same general format: a 30-second introduction (which usually features the Gingerbread Man theme) followed by a verse sung by the character, and then a mix of comments and thoughts by the character over music which expands on the themes in the verse and gives the listener glimpses into the character's thoughts.

The interactive CD-ROM program also uses the same format, letting the user play his or her keyboard like a visual instrument by triggering various images, sounds, texts, and effects through the keyboard and mouse.

The Residents brought a number of collaborators together on Gingerbread ManTy Roberts (who had produced Ty's Freak Show) was producer on this project through his new CD-ROM company, ION. Voices for the characters were provided by not only The Residents, but also Laurie Amat ("The Weaver"), Diana Alden ("The Confused Transsexual"), Molly Harvey ("The Old Woman"), Isabelle Barbier, and Todd Rundgren ("The Sold-Out Artist", "The Ascetic", and "The Aging Musician").

Following the release of the Enhanced CD version of the album, EuroRalph issued a version of Gingerbread Man in 1994 which did not feature the additional CD-ROM multimedia material but which features identical musical contents.

Production

Production on the album began immediately following the completion of Our Finest Flowers in 1992, being worked on occasionally by the group during the production of Freak Show. At the same time, The Residents also tentatively worked on Hunters and Bad Day on the Midway. It started life as a demo tape entitled Fat Boy[1], which would be developed into a 21-minute long instrumental piece dubbed GMB(I). GBM(I) would later be fleshed out into Gingerbread Man. Fat Boy also contained early versions of Hunters material.[2] The song 'The Confused Transexual' is a re-working of the song The Cry of A Crow, from their Teds EP. The Cry of a Crow is itself a re-working of an earlier track from Our Finest Flowers, I Can't Get No Spot, based itself on Satisfaction and The Spot.

Todd Rundgren, 1994

The album sessions featured then Residents regulars Laurie Amat, Diana Alden, newcomers Molly Harvey and Isabelle Barbier and guest star Todd Rundgren assisting the group. Barbier is the daughter of co-producer Homer Flynn and album artwork creator Leigh Barbier. Molly Harvey was a barista who met The Singing Resident on her first day working in San Francisco. They became friends, and she was invited to help with vocals on the album.[3] The album was completed in late 1993 and was ready for release. But The Residents were heated up from production on the Freak Show CD-ROM and realized they could make the album 'do stuff' through the technology.

They wrote a letter for The Cryptic Corporation to give to someone. The letter said that The Residents had completed their new album but wanted it to 'do stuff'. So the Cryptics sought out Todd Rundgren's[4] newly formed company Ion and told them about The Residents' letter before inviting them to discuss the project in person. The Residents wanted Ion to provide them with the framework for a computer program from which they could attach imagery that could illustrate the ideas in the Gingerbread Man songs. The representatives of Ion tried to pitch some ideas to The Cryptics, but they said that whatever Ion would come up with would work fine.

So Ion set to work creating The Gingerbread Man CD-ROM. Every week they would send The Residents a test copy of what they'd done, and The Residents would respond with a crumpled sheet of paper reading either 'Good', 'Start Over' or 'More Buttons'. In February of 1994, Ion sent off a test copy of the CD-ROM but heard nothing back. They called The Cryptics, who told them that The Residents had been missing for several weeks now but that this usually happens and that no one should be alarmed. Later that month, The Residents sent back the game demo, except now it was a fully textured, near-complete product, delivered with the instruction to playtest it as much as possible over the next three days[5]. The game was finished and was released in October of 1994.[6]

Release

Euro Ralph advert in the CD version of Gingerbread Man

In October of 1994, Ion released the CD-ROM version of the album alongside a regular CD version put out by East Side Digital and Euro Ralph. In 1996 the CD version was repressed by Euro Ralph, and in 2019 an expanded and remastered version of the album was released by MVD Audio, featuring new artwork and two bonus tracks. In 2021 Cherry Red Records issued the album on vinyl for the first time, perhaps hinting at a future re-issue series for The Residents' 1990s - 2010s albums not pressed onto vinyl.

Legacy

Perhaps this project's most lasting legacy is its introduction of core collaborators Molly Harvey, Leigh, and Isabelle Barbier. Molly would become The Residents' go-to female vocalist until 2005 and has performed with them in concert as recently as 2018. Leigh Barbier's visual style has since become synonymous with The Residents, and she has most recently created props for their God In Three Persons concerts. Isabelle Barbier occasionally appears on Residents releases and has most recently worked with them on 2017's Ghost of Hope.

Photos from the Gingerbread Man segment of Live at The Fillmore.

Throughout The Residents' entire CD-ROM period (1994 - 1997), The Residents performed live only a handful of times. However, the most notable performances are their Fillmore shows, the setlists of which focused almost entirely on their CD-ROM works. The Residents performed three songs from The Gingerbread Man and created a new monologue for The Singing Resident, explaining the concept behind the album. The three songs performed were The Aging Musician, The Old Woman, and The Sold-Out Artist.

In 2001, The Residents re-recorded The Weaver, The Dying Oilman, The Sold-Out Artist, The Aging Musician and The Old Woman for their Icky Flix project and performed the songs in the subsequent tour. Also featured in Icky Flix is the head of The Butcher, featured in the Constantinople music video.

Afterwards, The Residents did not perform material from the album until the Talking Light tour in 2010, where The Old Woman was featured as the penultimate song in the set (not including the encore). The Talking Light performances were followed by a studio re-recording of The Old Woman for the Lonely Teenager album.

The most recently performed material from Gingerbread Man was The Confused Transexual, played during the Wonder of Weird tour in 2013. During the Shadowland tour a newly recorded spoken word version of The Butcher was played in between The Golden Guy and Herman The Human Mole. This version is available exclusively on the rare Shadow Stories mini-album / single.

Track listing

  1. The Weaver: The fool and the death-maker die alone (3:52)
  2. The Dying Oilman: Blinded by the hostages of fortune (3:13)
  3. The Confused Transsexual: Stamen and pistillate together again (3:12)
  4. The Sold-Out Artist: Black are the legs inside the white sepulchre (3:47)
  5. The Ascetic: Shadows doubt the strength of the sun (4:07)
  6. The Old Soldier: Safety sells, but war always wins (3:31)
  7. The Aging Musician: Narcissus knows no one naked (4:51)
  8. The Butcher: The flesh of animals angers anew... and moos (3:04)
  9. The Old Woman: Kissless are the isolated, rootless are their tongues (4:32)
  10. Ginger's Lament (2:23)

2016 Extended Edition

  1. The Weaver (Ft. L. Amat) (3:54)
  2. The Dying Oilman (3:15)
  3. The Confused Transsexual (Ft. D. Alden) (3:15)
  4. The Sold-Out Artist (Ft. T. Rundgren) (3:49)
  5. The Ascetic (Ft. T. Rundgren) (4:10)
  6. The Old Soldier (3:33)
  7. The Aging Musician (Ft. T. Rundgren) (4:53)
  8. The Butcher (3:07)
  9. The Old Woman (Ft. M. Harvey) (4:34)
  10. Ginger's Lament (Ft. I. Barbier) (2:29)
  11. The Gingerbread Man (Concentrate) (9:15)
  12. The Gingerbread Man Instrumental (20:48)

Preserved Edtion

Disc One: Gingerbread Man / Live Ginger

  1. The Weaver (Ft. Laurie Amat) (3:52)
  2. The Dying Oilman (3:14)
  3. The Confused Transsexual (Ft. Diana Alden) (3:13)
  4. The Sold-Out Artist (Ft. Todd Rundgren) (3:47)
  5. The Ascetic (Ft. Todd Rundgren) (4:08)
  6. The Old Soldier (3:32)
  7. The Aging Musician (Ft. Todd Rundgren) (4:52)
  8. The Butcher (3:05)
  9. The Old Woman (Ft. Molly Harvey) (4:32)
  10. Ginger's Lament (2:26)
  11. The Gingerbread Man (1997) (2:22)
  12. The Aging Musician (1997) (4:53)
  13. The Old Woman (1997) (5:15)
  14. The Sold-Out Artist (1997) (5:15)
  15. Gingerbread Man Suite (2001) (9:50)
    1. The Weaver
    2. The Dying Oilman
    3. The Sold-Out Artist
    4. The Aging Musician
    5. The Old Woman
  16. The Old Woman (2011) (6:14)
  17. The Confused Transsexual (2013) (4:46)

Disc Two: The Fat Boy Tape / Gingerbread Man (The Complete Instrumental)

  1. Banco (0:42)
  2. Last Ton (0:55)
  3. Snots (1:20)
  4. E-z (0:49)
  5. Devise LP (1:37)
  6. Mood I (1:02)
  7. Blues For Twos (1:09)
  8. Burn 3 (0:44)
  9. Malice Timba (0:45)
  10. Another (0:52)
  11. Cod Rack (0:44)
  12. Little Thoughts (1:07)
  13. Trail MIX (1:55)
  14. Pizza (1:31)
  15. Laughin Waters (2:03)
  16. Uncomfort (0:43)
  17. Uncomfort (2) (0:43)
  18. Warm Pallet (0:36)
  19. Summertime (0:31)
  20. Weep No More (0:29)
  21. Black Forest (0:38)
  22. Prosane (0:58)
  23. Robber Baron (1:05)
  24. Harts (1:53)
  25. Imple (1:51)
  26. Mighty (0:34)
  27. Nutstoya (1:23)
  28. Yahoo (1:15)
  29. Jandine (1:00)
  30. Dunlap #2 (1:15)
  31. Isosceles (0:31)
  32. Big Jumble A (5:40)
  33. Gingerbread Man (The Complete Instrumental) (36:18)
    1. The Weaver
    2. The Dying Oilman
    3. The Confused Transsexual
    4. The Sold-Out Artist
    5. The Ascetic
    6. The Old Soldier
    7. The Aging Musician
    8. The Butcher
    9. The Old Woman
    10. Ginger's Lament

Disc Three: Hunters / Prelude To 'The Teds'

  1. Hunters Prelude (0:49)
  2. The Deadly Game (4:47)
  3. Tooth & Claw (5:12)
  4. The Dangerous Sea (4:50)
  5. Rulers of the Deep (5:06)
  6. Track of the Cat (5:17)
  7. The Giant Grizzlies (6:28)
  8. Dawn of the Dragons (5:51)
  9. Eye of the Serpent (6:49)
  10. The Crawling Kingdom (6:30)
  11. The Savage Pack (6:29)
  12. Hunters Reprise (1:05)
  13. Teddy (3:57)
  14. I Tried To Cry (2:01)
  15. The Cry of the Crow (3:19)
  16. Struggle (2:56)

Credits

Liner notes

Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses (1997)

As of this writing, The Gingerbread Man is The Residents' only foray into the world of Enhanced CD. Though the project was also released as a music-only disc, the real version was a CD that would play not only in your CD player, but also in the CD-ROM drive of your computer. The computer added a whole new dimension of interactive video.

Release history

Year Label Format Region
1994 ION CD-ROM US/EU
Euro Ralph CD EU
East Side Digital US
2016 MVD Audio
2021 Cherry Red Records, MVD, New Ralph Too LP UK
CD US, EU

See also

External links and references

  • https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-residents-gingerbread-man-3cd-preserved-edition/
  • https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-residents-gingerbread-man-3cd-preserved-edition/
  • https://www.artsatl.org/qa-molly-harvey-talks-about-time-with-experimental-rockers-the-residents-and-remembers-hardy-fox/
  • https://www.residents.com/historical/?page=gingerbreadman
  • Gingerbread Man README, archived here
  • https://www.gio80.com/gingerbread-man/
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