Stars & Hank Forever is a 1986 album by The Residents, and the second and (to date) final instalment in their American Composer Series, following 1984's George & James.

Stars & Hank Forever pays homage to the work of Hank Williams, Sr. (1923-1953) and John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), and was the last studio album by the group to feature their long-time collaborator Snakefinger.

History Edit

The first side of the album features five interpretations of Hank Williams tracks, opening with "Hey Good Lookin'", which features Snakefinger on slide guitar. "Six More Miles (To The Graveyard)" would also be featured in The Snakey Wake, following Snakefinger's death the following year. "Kaw-Liga" samples the rhythm to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". This was more than likely a reference to Williams' wife, who was also named Billie Jean. It was released as a single in support of the album and was briefly popular in Europe, as close as The Residents ever came to a bonafide commercial hit. An album featuring various remixes of the track, Poor Kaw-Liga's Pain, was also released in 1994. The Residents recorded three further Hank Williams songs which were not included on the final album. These tracks were released in 1990 as "The Hank Williams Death And Despair Trilogy In Waltz Time" on the UWEB compilation Daydream B-Liver.

The second half (or "Sousaside") of the album is a medley of marches by John Philip Sousa. It features sound effects recorded by Philip Perkins to create the effect of a marching band on a happy occasion. One band approaches, fading in, then fades out as the next fades in. The music is surrounded by crowd noises, airplanes flying over, and the like. The album ends with an anticlimactic fade-out as the last band marches off, just like a real parade. "The Stars and Stripes Forever" was released in a mix without the effects as the B side to the Kaw-Liga 7" single.

Despite the American Composer Series project being intended for a total of ten releases (covering twenty artists), Stars & Hank Forever would be the final instalment in the series. The third album was to be called The Trouble With Harrys, featuring the music of Harry Partch and Harry Nilsson, but The Residents abandoned the project in 1986. The new CD technology was starting to catch on and with everyone buying up CD rights to music, The Residents could no longer afford to play in this seller's market, especially with Ralph Records' ongoing financial troubles. Furthermore, the group felt that CDs were unsuited to the whole project, since one of the composers would have to come before the other on the disc, giving a false impression of priority.

Tracks recorded for another abandoned American Composer Series album featuring the work of Sun Ra and Barry White were compiled into the medley "Daydream In Space" on the Daydream B-Liver compilation in 1990. The themes covered in these albums would culminate in the elaborate theatrical performance tour Cube-E: The History Of American Music In 3 E-Z Pieces in 1989.

Track listing Edit

  1. Hey Good Lookin' (2:47)
  2. Six More Miles (To The Graveyard) (4:15)
  3. Kaw-Liga (4:52)
  4. Ramblin' Man (3:13)
  5. Jambalaya (4:43)
  6. Sousaside (23:08)
    1. Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
    2. The Stars and Stripes Forever
    3. The Thunderer
    4. The Liberty Bell
    5. Semper Fidelis
    6. The Washington Post

Liner notes Edit

The Residents Edit

The Residents is a musical group with a profound respect for music as content as well as form. If that is a difficult concept, think of a film director making a film about making a film. Happens all the time. Making music about music is nothing new either, but at least every stupid band in the civilized world isn't doing it, which gives The Residents some dubious claim to fame. If this record satisfies some inner need, please indulge in Volume I, George & James, the music of George Gershwin and James Brown.

The American Composer Series Edit

America, in its relatively short history, has produced an astounding number of talented individuals in the field of music. The Residents are deeply indebted to the American composer for the spunk it has given the melting pot.

This series is to be recorded during the final 16 years of the 20th century (1984-2000). While each record will be released upon completion, the work, as a whole, will not be available until 2001 and will contain the works of not less than twenty composers.

Hank Williams (1923-1953) Edit

Hank Williams, at the age of twelve, met and became influenced by Flute "Tee-tot" Payne, a black musician, who taught him the rudiments of public performance. Mr. Williams formed his first working honky-tonk band at the age of fourteen. At the age of 26 he had his first number one C&W smash, "Lovesick Blues", bringing the house down when he capped his debut at the Grand Ole Opry with six encores. Unfortunately, Hank did not handle stardom well. Over the following three years, with the help of booze and pills, he managed to undo just about everything he had done. Mr. Williams died of unknown causes in the back of his powder blue Cadillac convertible on New Years Eve at the age of 29.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) Edit

Mr. Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. shortly after the end of the Civil War. No doubt as a child he was thrilled by the sight of marching soldiers and military bands. At the age of fourteen he joined the United States Marines Band and became its conductor at the age of 26. He also wrote a few novels, operettas, and a world anthology of national songs, but it was his marches, over a hundred of them, that made Sousa one of the most famous men of his day and earned him the still undisputed title of "The March King". The "King" died of old age at 78, virtuously rich, impeccably Republican, internationally famous, and still writing marches.

See also Edit