Produced in adherence with the "Theory of Phonetic Organization" (devised by the mysterious Bavarian avant-garde composer N. Senada), Meet The Residents was the first album released on Ralph Records, the group's newly-founded independent record label.
Recorded between February and October 1973 during breaks from the shooting of the group's ambitious film project Vileness Fats, Meet The Residents was not originally intended to become a record.
The album is the result of a series of loose improvisational sessions (regularly held by the group with various friends on Tuesdays), which resulted in early versions of tracks which would eventually be featured on Meet The Residents, as well as hours of further experimental improvisational jamming, including an instrumental suite entitled "1-10 (With A Touch of 11)" which first became known to fans upon its release in 2018 on the pREServed edition of the album.
According to the album's liner notes, Meet The Residents was assembled from the best of these sessions in accordance with the Theory of Phonetic Organization, conceived by the obscure Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist N. Senada, who had appeared suddenly on the group's doorstep a couple of years before. The group were inspired to apply Senada's complex theories to Western music, and this resulted in the compilation of Meet The Residents.
Release and remix Edit
Meet The Residents was the first release to officially credit the group simply as The Residents - their only prior official release, the 1972 Santa Dog double 7" EP, was credited to a variety of different pseudonyms (including "Residents, Uninc." and The Delta Nudes).
The Residents wanted to release the album with a provocative album cover to attract attention and invite purchases in record stores. The album art, produced by Homer Flynn's Porno Graphics graphic design company, defaces the front cover of Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles' second US album release. EMI and Capitol Records were angry with the cover and threatened to sue, though it is rumored that either George Harrison or Ringo Starr loved the cover and bought a copy.
Despite its arresting album art, Meet The Residents was not an immediate success - the band estimates that it only sold forty copies in its first year, mostly to family and friends. Sales of the album began to pick up following the relative success of The Third Reich 'n Roll in 1976, at which point The Cryptic Corporation received the original masters used to create the original monaural version of the album, and proceeded to remix and re-edit the tracks to create an entirely new stereo mix - in the process, shortening the album overall by nearly seven minutes.
The remixed and shortened version of Meet The Residents would be released in 1977, but due to the complaints from EMI and Capitol, the reissue featured a different cover, still parodying The Beatles, but this time featuring "John Crawfish, George Crawfish, Paul McCrawfish, and Ringo Starfish", with illustrations of the applicable sea creatures wearing Beatles suits.
Subsequent re-releases of the album have alternated between these two versions. The first CD pressing was the first edition to restore the full unedited mono version, but subsequent CD editions have reverted to the edited master. The 1988 reissue of the album also included the Santa Dog EP as bonus tracks. The 2018 pREServed edition includes both versions of the album, Santa Dog, and numerous previously unheard outtakes from the Meet the Residents sessions.
Although Meet The Residents was largely ignored at the time of its release, it has since garnered critical acclaim. David Cleary of AllMusic gave the album 4 stars, calling the group "true avant-garde crazies...[their] work of this time really sounds like nothing else that exists."
Nils Bernstein of eMusic also gave the album 4 stars, saying its "brilliance lies in collaging less avant-garde elements like vaudeville, early rock ‘n’ roll, world music and snippets of pop culture in "songs" that were as disorienting as the barrage of media and consumerism they subtly critiqued – the medium is the message, indeed."
In a positive review, Julian Cope said of the album "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 initially confused and later hooked."
Track listing Edit
Original mono version
- Boots (Hazelwood) (1:38)
- Numb Erone (1:05)
- Guylum Bardot (1:19)
- Breath and Length (1:45)
- Consuelo's Departure (1:44)
- Smelly Tongues (1:46)
- Rest Aria (5:06)
- Skratz (1:44)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (6:35)
- Infant Tango (5:57)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:06)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (9:41)
1977 stereo remix
- Boots (Hazelwood) (0:53)
- Numb Erone (1:07)
- Guylum Bardot (1:21)
- Breath and Length (1:42)
- Consuelo's Departure (0:59)
- Smelly Tongues (1:47)
- Rest Aria (5:09)
- Skratz (1:42)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)
- Infant Tango (5:27)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (7:16)
The pREServed edition of Meet The Residents includes both the mono and stereo versions of the album, as well as Santa Dog, and a number of previously unheard outtakes from the same time period, including early versions of tracks later featured on the finished album, as well as most of the instrumental suite "1-10 (With A Touch of 11)" and excerpts from the group's Tuesday jam sessions.
It also features what may be old instrumentals with newly recorded vocals from the Singing Resident ("Spotted Pinto Queen" and "Poisoned Popcorn"), as well as tracks which appear to originate from an aborted attempt to produce a new version of the album circa 2013 ("Boots Again").
Track listing Edit
(*) indicates tracks which are previously unreleased.
Disc 1 Edit
Meet The Residents 1974 mono mix + Santa Dog EP + outtakes and ephemera
- Boots (Hazelwood) (1:26)
- Numb Erone (1:21)
- Guylum Bardot (1:23)
- Breath and Length (1:45)
- Consuelo's Departure (1:47)
- Smelly Tongues (1:51)
- Rest Aria (5:29)
- Skratz (1:49)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (6:46)
- Infant Tango (6:06)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (10:20)
- Fire (1:47)
- Explosion (3:22)
- Lightning (2:21)
- Aircraft Damage (3:57)
- Tuesday #1 / Guylum Bardot Version (2:25) (*)
- Boots Again (Hazelwood) (2:03) (*)
- Numb Erone / Inka (2:54) (*)
- Tuesday #2 / Smelly Tongues Version (2:07) (*)
- Consuela's Return (2:23) (*)
- Breadth and Length Version (2:04) (*)
- Numb Erone 'Live' (2:19) (*)
- Spotted Pinto Bean / Tuesday #5 (1:59) (*)
- 7733 Variations (1:18) (*)
Disc 2 Edit
Meet The Residents 1977 stereo mix + outtakes and ephemera
- Boots (Hazelwood) (0:50)
- Numb Erone (1:08)
- Guylum Bardot (1:20)
- Breath and Length (1:41)
- Consuelo's Departure (0:58)
- Smelly Tongues (1:45)
- Rest Aria (5:14)
- Skratz (1:42)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (5:31)
- Infant Tango (5:26)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:06)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (7:49)
- Overlay At High Speed (0:43) (*)
- Spotted Pinto Queen (2:59) (*)
- Inka Don't Dry (3:08) (*)
- Tuesday #3 (1:04) (*)
- Quick Brain Tuesday (0:45) (*)
- Poisoned Popcorn (2:45) (*)
- N-Er-Gee Crisis Outro (0:55) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 1 (5:09) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 4 (4:00) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 5 (1:37) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 6 (3:29) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 7 (1:53) (*)
- 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 8 (2:33) (*)
Liner notes Edit
Original pressing Edit
The Residents began collecting interesting and unusual tapes in the early 60's in an effort to expand their awareness of the very nature of sound. The tapes came from everywhere... cassettes of soldiers in Vietnam singing songs with impromptu instrumentation... reels from second hand shops... sounds effects and bird call collections from garage sales... and, yes, even a few bootleg tapes of well known pop artists going avant-garde between takes which were purchased on the black market and stored in a local bank vault.
The Residents not only collected other peoples tapes, but gained widespread notoriety for their unusual recordings. The underground network carried their reputation across the oceans where it finally hit the ears of the then unknown Englishman, "Snakefinger" Lithman. Packing a few clothes, he flew directly to San Mateo, California where the Residents then had their sound studios, in hopes of studying tapes of early Cajun music the Residents were alleged to have recorded while in college in Louisiana. Snakefinger had also brought an acquaintance that he had met in the woods of Bavaria while on an expedition there for Britain. That friend was none other than The Mysterious N. Senada who had developed a complex musical system based upon phonetics.
For six months Snakefinger, N. Senada (who spoke very little English), and The Residents worked together recording and listening to tapes. A few lucky people were even able to catch impromptu performances by The Mysterious N. Senada and Snakefinger at several of San Francisco's folk and jazz clubs.
The Residents negotiated with Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt over the rights to the Snakefinger/N. Senada/Residents tapes, but Warner Bros. hit by a slump in record sales, decided the audience appeal was too limited and at the last minute withdrew their offer.
Snakefinger returned to England to become a rock and roll star, and The Mysterious N. Senada, well he just disappeared one day. The Residents have ventured to guess that he has probably gone to the arctic regions. He believes some musical link is hidden among the Eskimos of the frozen north.
The music on this album is not that of Snakefinger or of The Mysterious N. Senada. The Residents have taken the basic ideas of the phonetic organization but have applied the theories to a more Western style of music. The translation does not always hold intact, though there is more than enough example of this staggering new music style.
The instruments used on this record have been tuned to approximate Western culture harmonies and artistic freedom is assumed for the right to substitute normal instruments where necessary.
Listen closely to the record. Let the strangeness wear off through a couple of plays. Soon you too will whistle the merry tunes and wonder along with The Residents who that old man N. Senada really was.
1977 reissue Edit
Meet The Residents was originally released in 1974, on the Ralph Records label. The tapes were monaural recordings on home equipment and suffered further fidelity loss in the mastering and pressing stages. In 1976, The Cryptic Corporation came into legal possession of The Residents' recordings, and began working on how to restore these original tapes to studio quality. Using the master tape as a directive, the album was disassembled, reprocessed, and reconstructed into this true stereophonic version. No re-recording was employed. The artists who appear on this recording have personally approved this as an authorized realization of the original LP.
Both the original 1974 mono master and the 1977 stereo master have been excavated from The Residents' archives and remastered from the original tapes for this release. Embrace, enjoy and meet The Residents all over again. Possibly as you've never heard them before (offer subject to playback equipment, listener mood and extraneous atmospherics).
"On Meet The Residents" by Harvey Sox Edit
Recently a new phenomenon has erupted in the recording industry. Record consumption has reached a high enough level to support the creation of private labels dedicated to material considered non-commercial by large corporate structures. Certainly one of the most interesting albums to emerge on a nationwide underground scale is Ralph Records' first release, Meet The Residents.
The cover takes a biting slap at the Beatles, with the original Capitol Records' Meet The Beatles jacket exactly reproduced with appropriate tongue-in-cheek changes like fangs, crossed eyes, drooling tongue, etc. Capitol Records, alerted to the possible breach of copyright, has threatened to "take action" if Ralph Records should press a second edition of Meet The Residents.
The parodies, however, are not simply confined to some type of humorous duplication. Illustrations seem the best way to explain their unusual characteristics. One cut aptly named "Infant Tango" (no doubt a pun on the notorious disease) is a shuck & jive soul number featuring Chinese instrumentation (properly wah-wahed) and electronically altered jazz saxophone. Does that explain it? Well, how about "Spotted Pinto Bean"? I would say Sun Ra with opera and honky-tonk after-hours piano during a thunderstorm backed by a Motown horn section. Is that any clearer? Maybe you have to hear it to understand.
Many listeners have compared Meet The Residents to some of the strange European releases which have recently been filtering more and more into the American music scene. However, The Residents are so totally American in the sources from which they draw, that the result is more pop-artish than, say, the heavy handed Germans or cutesie English. I mean, who else even thought to wonder how Stockhausen would do "These Boots Are Made For Walking"?
The Residents' Meet The Residents is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, for most it is more a cup of bitters, but for that small minority for whom this record was made, it must be near heaven.