|This article is about the the 1976 studio album.|
You may be looking for the the 1977 short film of the same name.
Intended as a caustic satire on the pop music industry, The Third Reich 'n Roll was recorded in two dedicated sessions in October 1974 and October 1975, and consists of two side-long "semi-phonetic" interpretations of well-known garage rock and bubblegum pop hits, mostly dating from the 1960s.
The album's notorious cover art by Porno/Graphics shows American Bandstand host Dick Clark dressed in a Nazi uniform and clutching a carrot, and the original pressing prominently features numerous swastikas; as such, the album has been subject to controversy and censorship since its release.
- 1 History
- 2 Cover art and imagery
- 3 Release and promotion
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Track listing
- 6 pREServed edition (2018)
- 7 Liner notes
- 8 Credits
- 9 Release history
- 10 See also
- 11 Listen online
- 12 External links and references
The Third Reich 'n Roll was The Residents' first concept album proper, and their second album in order of release - the album officially considered to be their "second", Not Available, had been at least partly recorded in early 1974, but was not released until 1978. For this reason, The Third Reich 'n Roll is sometimes considered to be The Residents' third studio album.
It was conceived while the group were shooting their troubled feature film Vileness Fats, when they realized that they would need to release a follow-up to their 1974 debut album Meet The Residents sooner rather than later. The album was largely recorded in two dedicated sessions in 1974 and 1975, each lasting roughly a week in length and taking place over the course of the Major Baseball League World Series in October of each year.
The year-long gap between the two sessions is due to the difficulty The Residents experienced in coordinating a week's vacation from their day jobs at the same time, in addition to the time they were spending on Vileness Fats (which had already been in production for two years by the time The Third Reich 'n Roll was conceived).
The Residents were also experiencing a number of personal tensions at this time, some of which had been resolved with the development of Not Available in early 1974, but which nevertheless left some members of the group convinced that the Third Reich 'n Roll sessions would be the last project they worked on together.
The process The Residents used to create The Third Reich 'n Roll was simple: using their four-track tape equipment in the first session, and a newly-acquired Tascam 8-track tape machine in the second, they took recordings of various well-known 1960s bubblegum pop and rock 'n' roll songs, then built on those by laying their own overdubs on top.
After layering overdubs, they then removed the original versions of the songs from the master, resulting in suitably mangled cover versions performed entirely by The Residents. These miniature covers (as well as a handful of more free-form recordings) were then cross-faded, overdubbed and edited into two roughly 18-minute long suites; "Swastikas on Parade", featuring the results of the 1974 session, and "Hitler Was a Vegetarian", with the results of the 1975 session.
With these cover recordings and other sound elements, such as the sample of the German-language version of Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist Again" which opens the album, and stock sound effects including air raid sirens, dive bombers and machine gun fire, The Third Reich 'n Roll was intended to satirically illustrate that the popular music industry (which had already rejected their efforts) had "brainwashed" the youth of America in a manner similar to the effect the fascist Nazi Third Reich had on the people of Germany when it ruled the country between 1933 and 1945.
Some of the cover versions are immediately obvious to most listeners, while others are rendered almost unrecognizable. Most often, the covers appear one after the other, or segue together in a simple medley format, although some feature elements borrowed from entirely different songs - for example, the version of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" which closes the album also features backing vocals derived from The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil". A small number of covers recorded for the project (such as "Wooly Bully") were ultimately not included in the final version of the album.
Guest vocals were provided by the group's friends Pamela Zeibak (who had previously appeared on Meet The Residents) and Margaret Smyk (credited on the album as her Vileness Fats character Peggy Honeydew).
The Residents had wanted to ask their friend Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman to perform on the record, but at the time of recording he was in the United Kingdom touring with his group Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers. Snakefinger returned to America around mid-1976, and appeared with the group at their first live performance in June, and made his first appearance on an official Residents release on the "Satisfaction" single in 1977.
Instead, the album features an appearance from guitarist Gary Phillips, an employee of Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley who had responded to a phone call from a Resident to the store. Phillips volunteered his services, and appears on the "Hey Jude"/"Sympathy For The Devil" section of "Hitler Was a Vegetarian" - he recorded his contribution by plugging his guitar directly into a portable tape recorder he owned, without an amplifier. On the original pressing of the album, Phillips is credited as "The Former Bass Player From The Front Line".
Cover art and imagery
The packaging and promotion of The Third Reich 'n Roll by Porno/Graphics made prominent use of Nazi imagery, in keeping with the album's concept and the arresting, confrontational imagery previously produced by The Residents.
The album's front cover depicts Dick Clark, host of the long-running TV program American Bandstand, dressed in a Nazi uniform and holding a carrot, in front of a landscape depicting miniature Hitlers dancing with each other on clouds. The back cover and record labels of the first pressing prominently depict swastikas (which were replaced on later pressings with a variety of more generic symbols and imagery).
Promotional photos released at the time showed the members of the group dressed in giant swastika-shaped neck collars, Hitler moustaches and swastika-shaped glasses; these photographs were ultimately withdrawn from circulation as they "just disturbed too many people", but have since been occasionally reprinted in a variety of Residents-related texts and reissues of the album.
The use of such controversial imagery continued to cause problems for The Residents and their management company The Cryptic Corporation for years to come. As swastikas were (and remain) banned from public display in Germany and Austria, Ralph Records initially could not release or distribute the album in Europe.
Ralph finally released The Third Reich 'n Roll in Europe in 1981 with altered cover art which featured "CENSORED!" stickers placed over every appearance of the swastika, Adolf Hitler, or the word "reich". In 1993, Porno/Graphics' lead graphic designer Homer Flynn created entirely new cover art for the 1993 Euro Ralph CD reissue, featuring Hitler and Madonna in place of the original figure of Dick Clark.
The album was again reissued with newly "censored" cover art in 2005 by Mute Records (with the original artwork encased in a plain black box marked only by a sticker displaying the title and a "parental advisory" warning), as part of their series of deluxe "hardcover" reissues of classic Residents albums. A similar plain black design was first conceived (but not used) in the 1970s for the album Not Available. The idea was implemented again in 2018 and 2019, with the limited edition vinyl releases of the group's demo tapes The W***** B*** Album and B.S..
The 2018 pREServed two-disc digipak edition featured a newly edited design with no visible swastikas or Hitlers, and "censored" bars over the word "Reich" and the face of Dick Clark.
Release and promotion
Following its release in February 1976, The Third Reich 'n Roll became The Residents' first project to receive notable attention. While it did not open the group to a great deal of wider mainstream publicity, the album nevertheless sold its entire first pressing of 1000 copies, and its success also helped to encourage sales of their debut, Meet The Residents, which had sold only 40 copies in its first year of release.
Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley, whose employee Gary Phillips had contributed guitar to "Hitler Was a Vegetarian", promoted the release of the album by placing a swastika-themed display in their front windows. This remained in place for only two days before "shrill local outrage" caused the store to remove it.
By way of thanks, however, The Residents agreed to perform live at Rather Ripped's fifth anniversary party on June 7th 1976 - their first "official" live appearance as The Residents. The ensuing performance, titled "Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! Can't You See That It's True; What The Beatles Did To Me, 'I Love Lucy' Did To You", featured a number of the group's collaborators (including Snakefinger, The Mysterious N. Senada, and Pamela Zeibak) but was ultimately not considered a success by the group, and it would be another six years before the group played live again.
|The wiki has a page dedicated to this topic.|
For more information, read this article.
In early 1977, The Residents created a short film promoting the album, after having received a request from an Australian music program, "Flashez", a largely pop-centric magazine-style show which ran between 1976 and 1977.
The first half of the film had been shot over a long weekend a couple years prior to the album's release, on newspaper-covered sets, with The Residents appearing in costumes and with instruments which were also made of newspaper. The large amount of newspaper required to build the set, costumes and props had been left in the group's Sycamore Street studio by their friend Palmer Eiland, who had lived with them in an unpainted room at the studio until suffering a mental breakdown.
The second half of the film, consisting of stop-motion live action animation, was shot after the album's release when the group decided to re-purpose the earlier footage for the creation of the film. It was shot on the Banquet Hall set they had built for their soon-to-be-abandoned feature film Vileness Fats, and included props from that production including an Atomic Shopping Cart, giant pork chops, and oversized skulls.
The newspaper costumes worn by The Residents in the film caused further public relations issues for the group, since the tall conical hoods of the costumes closely resembled the hooded costumes worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan. This, in conjunction with the album's Third Reich cover art and theme, led some to think that the group were promoting extremist right-wing ideologies. In fact, the creation of the costumes preceded the development of the Third Reich 'n Roll concept, and appeared this way simply because it was the easiest means of making a functional head-covering from newspaper; as such, the resemblance to the hoods worn by the Ku Klux Klan was purely accidental.
The completed film, which was set to a six-minute "concentrate" edit consisting of a number of pieces from the album, would eventually be considered one of the earliest examples of a music video; preceding the popular adoption of the medium by around five years. The film (as well as the group's entire catalog of releases) is held in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. It has since been made widely available through its inclusion in most of the group's home video compilations, including the Video Voodoo Volume I VHS and Icky Flix DVD.
Rather than releasing any edited extracts from the album as promotional singles, The Residents instead opted to further develop the concept of the album by recording two new singles, "Satisfaction" (released in September 1976) and The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play The Beatles (released in August 1977).
"Satisfaction" included a distorted and abrasive cover of The Rolling Stones' song of the same name, backed by a Residents original, "Loser ≅ Weed", which featured the group's first experiment with their recently-purchased ARP Odyssey synthesizer. The single was originally pressed in a small edition of 200 copies, but a later pressing in 1977 (after the explosion of punk music) was a significant early success for the group.
The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play The Beatles featured a sound-collage by The Residents titled "Beyond The Valley Of A Day In The Life" on the A-side, which consisted entirely of short samples of segments from The Beatles' releases combined in a manner which is often considered to be a pre-cursor to what is now known as the "mash-up", representing The Beatles performing a Residents composition. The B-side is a near-acapella Residents rendition of The Beatles' 1967 instrumental "Flying", from the soundtrack to their television film Magical Mystery Tour - the only song The Residents could find in The Beatles catalog which was credited to all four members of the group.
Collectors' box edition
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For more information, read this article.
In 1977, The Cryptic Corporation's graphic designer Homer Flynn conceived of a series of extremely limited edition collectors' box sets aimed at the high-end art collectors' market. The series was intended to include lavish treatments of The Third Reich 'n Roll, Tourniquet of Roses, and the then-upcoming Eskimo.
The Third Reich 'n Roll was chosen to be the first in the series, and the set was released after a number of delays in production in 1980. The box set contained the original version of the album (with no additional tracks or previously unheard material) hand-pressed on red marble vinyl with a silk-screened sleeve and labels.
The box opened via a sliding panel which had been silk-screened by hand with the album cover art, and also contained two signed and numbered lithographs. Finally, the box was contained in a draw-string bag crafted from the plastic bags used by artist Christo in his piece "Running Fence", which is seen on one of the included lithographs. The other lithograph included in the box features an artwork by the group's friend and occasional collaborator Irene Dogmatic.
The boxes used for the sets had been spray-painted black by hand by Flynn, who ultimately ended up in the emergency room when the combination of the spray-paint fumes and the tightness of the rubber band holding back his hair almost caused him to lose consciousness. He decided to abandon production of the Collectors' Box series as a result, but Ralph Records had already received 13 orders which had to be fulfilled. In the end, only 25 complete copies were made available (with a further five kept as artist proofs, and an additional 20 rejected due to misprints).
"Interactive book" multimedia edition
In 1994 The Third Reich 'n Roll was reissued by Euro Ralph in an "interactive book" package, which bundled the original album on CD (in a digipack with the newly updated "Madonna and Hitler" cover design by Porno/Graphics) and two 3.5" floppy disks.
The floppy disks contained a 15 slide multimedia presentation, which featured additional notes related to the album presented by "Dick Klark" alongside newly created digital graphics, and the option to play the CD (if inserted into the computer) while viewing it.
The Third Reich 'n Roll was one of only two Residents albums released in this format; a similar "interactive book" CD and floppy disk edition of the 1984 album George & James was also released by Euro Ralph in 1994. A complete "walkthrough" of the Third Reich 'n Roll multimedia slide show was uploaded to The Residents' official YouTube channel on January 19th 2018 in the lead-up to the release of the expanded pREServed edition of the album.
Today The Third Reich 'n Roll is sometimes considered a precursor to the modern "mash-up", and The Residents have also been credited with popularizing the practice of sampling in commercial music; the album features what is thought to be the first sample of a James Brown song on a commercially released record ("Swastikas on Parade" borrows a horn hit directly from "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"), pre-dating hip-hop's samples of Brown riffs, beats, and soundbites by about fifteen years.
The practice of covering well-known songs would later become a regular staple of The Residents' musical work. Other cover-based projects include the American Composer Series, released in two instalments in the mid-1980s, The King & Eye, a album of Elvis Presley covers released in 1989, and the related tour Cube-E, which combined a suite of selections from The King & Eye with two additional cover-based suites, "Buckaroo Blues" and "Black Barry".
The group's 2018 collaborative/remix album I Am A Resident! was produced with reference to The Third Reich 'n Roll; as a deliberate inversion of the original album's concept, the group commissioned their fans to record and submit cover versions of Residents originals, which then were mixed and edited by The Residents into a collection of mash-up suites. Illustrating this, the album's introduction opens with the same Chubby Checker sample used at the beginning of "Swastikas on Parade".
Likely due to The Third Reich 'n Roll's unique structure, The Residents have never created complete re-recordings or live performances of the album's two suites. However, elements from both suites have been played on stage, and parts of "Swastikas on Parade" have been re-recorded on several occasions. The first pieces from the album to be performed live by the group were "Wipe Out", and "It's My Party", both during the Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! show in June 1976. A new arrangement of "The Letter" was rehearsed by the group for their never-produced 10th Anniversary tour in 1982.
In 1988, the melody of "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" was used as a recurring theme in their concept album God In Three Persons, and to accompany the release of this album the group recorded a single featuring a newly-recorded version of this song. In the same year, The Residents arranged a short medley consisting of "Land of a Thousand Dances and "Double Shot", which they performed live in November of 1988.
In 1992, engineer Scott Colburn created a new mix of "Land of a Thousand Dances", which remained unreleased and unheard of until it was included on the pREServed edition of The Third Reich 'n Roll (which itself was remastered by Colburn) in 2018.
For their Icky Flix retrospective project in 2001, the group recorded a six-minute medley featuring elements from "Swastikas on Parade" as an optional alternate soundtrack to the Third Reich 'n Roll short film. This version included "Land of a Thousand Dances", "Psychotic Reaction", "Telstar", and "Wipe Out". The Icky Flix "Third Reich 'n Roll" medley was released on the accompanying soundtrack album, and performed live during the Icky Flix tour.
After it was repeatedly delayed by the global COVID-19 pandemic which began in 2020, The Residents' planned Dog Stab! tour evolved to become the group's 50th Anniversary show, as the August 2021 start date was now much closer to the anniversary than intended. To emphasize this theme, the group added an encore featuring material from The Third Reich 'n Roll to the set list, which also featured selections from the later albums Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen and Metal, Meat & Bone.
All tracks written and/or arranged by The Residents unless otherwise noted.
Original release (1976)
Side A: Swastikas on Parade (17:30)
- Sample: Chubby Checker - "Der Twist beginnt" (Mann/Appell)
- "Land of a Thousand Dances" (Kenner)
- "Hanky Panky" (Barry/Greenwich)
- "A Horse with No Name" (Bunnell)
- "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" (Smith/Vetter)
- "The Letter" (Carson)
- "Psychotic Reaction" (Ellner/Chaney/Atkinson/Byrne/Michalski)
- "Little Girl" (Baskin/Gonzalez)
- "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (Brown)
- (includes samples from the original version at 12:03 and 12:25)
- "Talk Talk" (Bonniwell)
- "I Want Candy" (Berns/Feldman/Goldstein/Gottehrer)
- "To Sir, with Love" (London)
- "Telstar" (Meek)
- "Wipe Out" (Berryhill/Connolly/Fuller/Wilson)
- "Heroes and Villains" (Wilson/Parks)
Side B: Hitler Was A Vegetarian (18:27)
- "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)" (Gourrier/Bernard)
- "96 Tears" (Martinez)
- "It's My Party" (Gold/Gluck/Weiner/Gottlieb)
- "Light My Fire" (Morrison/Krieger/Densmore/Manzarek)
- "Ballad of the Green Berets" (Moore/Sadler)
- "Yummy Yummy Yummy" (Kasenetz/Katz/Levine/Resnick)
- "Rock Around the Clock" (Freedman/De Knight)
- "Pushin' Too Hard" (Saxon)
- "Good Lovin'" (Clark/Resnick)
- "Gloria" (Morrison)
- "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (Ingle)
- "Sunshine of Your Love" (Bruce/Clapton)
- "Hey Jude" (Lennon/McCartney)
- "Sympathy for the Devil" (Jagger/Richards)
"Classic Series" CD reissue (1987)
pREServed edition (2018)
The Third Reich 'n Roll was the second album to be released as part of The Residents' pREServed series of remastered and expanded reissues, alongside Meet The Residents in January 2018. Early copies were shipped with a bonus postcard.
The pREServed edition of The Third Reich 'n Roll features updated, censored cover art (which refers to their upcoming film project Double Trouble in the same way that the original sleeve promoted the upcoming release of Vileness Fats).
It includes the original album, the "Satisfaction" and The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play The Beatles EPs, the previously unknown German Slide Music recordings (dating from July 1975), the complete Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! live performance (plus a "concentrate" of the backing tape used during the show), as well as later live and studio versions of pieces from this period.
Further pREServed releases related to The Third Reich 'n Roll are expected for release at an unknown time in the future, as at least one entry in a series of limited edition vinyl releases sold via mail order. This series is expected to include the complete "German Slide Music" tape, and a stripped back "multi-track exploration" of the original master tapes.
All tracks written and/or arranged by The Residents unless otherwise noted.
(*) indicates tracks which are previously unreleased.
The Third Reich 'n Roll + Third Reich ephemera
- Swastikas on Parade (17:28)
- Hitler Was a Vegetarian (18:21)
- Satisfaction (4:32) (Jagger/Richards)
- Loser ≅ Weed (2:11)
- Beyond The Valley of a Day in the Life (3:59)
- Flying (3:24) (Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey)
- German Slide Music Pt. 1 (*) (3:29)
- German Slide Music Pt. 2 (*) (1:27)
- German Slide Music Pt. 4 (*) (2:17)
- German Slide Music Pt. 5 (*) (4:09)
- German Slide Music Pt. 6 (*) (4:17)
Third Reich ephemera
- The 'Oh Mummy' Show (Live, 1976) (*) (29:35)
- The Letter (1982 Rehearsal) (*) (1:39) (Carson)
- Satisfaction (Live, Madrid, 1983) (*) (3:49) (Jagger/Richards)
- Land of 1000 Dances (Scott Colburn 1992 mix) (*) (4:10) (Kenner)
- Loser ≅ Weed (Live 2013) (2:56)
- Third Reich (Icky Flix DVD mix) (4:28)
- Third Reich (Live 2001) (4:44)
- 'Oh Mummy' Backing Tape Concentrate (*) (11:04)
- Third Reich Outtakes Reel (*) (6:05)
- 'Oh Mummy' Radio Ad (Unlisted) (*) (1:25)
"Why do The Residents hate The Beatles?"
That was a popular question several years ago when Ralph Records released The Residents' first album, Meet the Residents. Not everyone appreciated seeing their Beatle-Gods with fangs and cross-eyes - not to mention the erratic non-music music. But after all, that was a couple of years ago.
Then there was the second album. Produced in total secrecy, the album is reportedly a conceptualization of the theory of obscurity, as applied to phonetic organisation, as originally put forth by the Bavarian avant gardist, N. Senada, with whom The Residents are known to have worked about five years ago. According to the theory of obscurity, the LP cannot be released until its makers literally forget it exists.
Now, in the more traditional vein, The Residents announce the release of their third LP, The Third Reich 'n Roll. Already people are speculating whether The Residents are hinting that Rock 'n' Roll has brain-washed the youth of the world. When confronted with this possibility, they replied, "Well, it may be true or it may not, but we just wanted to kick out the jams and get it on."
The Third Reich 'n' Roll consists of two suites, Swastikas on Parade and Hitler Was a Vegetarian. Both are semi-phonetic interpretations of top 40 rock 'n' roll from the sixties. "Our roots", say The Residents.
One critic has suggested that The Residents are jumping on the German rock bandwagon. "What?" exclaimed one Resident while three others started singing "God Bless America", "Es eben ein reichsfall von gut alt Amerikaner kennenweiss," he preached with a wink.
- Vocals, Drums, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax, Cornet, French Horn, Clarinet, Trombone, Synthesizers, Pipe Organ, Xylophone, Piped Snooter, Electric Violin, Piano, Organ, Guitars, Oud, Garbage Drums, Stretch Globel, Koto, Accordian, Hanging Lamp & Rubber Board: The Residents
- Additional Vocals: Pamela Zeibak & Peggy Honeydew
- Fancy Electric Guitar: The Former Bass Player From The Front Line
- Produced By: Residents, UNINC.
- Jacket By: Porno/Graphics
|East Side Digital||CD||36:04|
|1994||CD (with 2x 3.5"
|1997||East Side Digital||CD||US|
|2005||Mute||UK, EU & US||36:24|
|2009||Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings||CD||JPN|
|2013||Music On Vinyl||EU|
|2018||New Ralph Too & Cherry Red||2xCD||UK, EU & US||35:51|
- The Third Reich 'n Roll (video)
- The Beatles Play The Residents And The Residents Play The Beatles
- German Slide Music
- Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! (live performance)
- Collectors' Box series
- Dick Clark
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at The Residents Historical
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at RZweb (archived February 9th 2005 by archive.org)
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at Discogs
- The Third Reich 'n Roll pREServed edition at Cherry Red Records
- Jim Knipfel, "Ignorance of Your Culture is Not Considered Cool", The Third Reich 'n Roll pREServed edition liner notes, 2018
- Ian Shirley, Never Known Questions: Five Decades of The Residents, 2016, pg 40
- Uncle Willie, Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide to The Residents, pg 58, 1992
- "Flashez" at Nostalgia Central
- "The End of Arf" video on YouTube
- Charles Bobuck, "Synth City", Codgers on the Moon liner notes, 2012
- Bach Is Dead discography via RZWeb, archived February 3rd 2005 by archive.org
- "Interactive Books" at RZWeb (archived February 16th 2005 by archive.org)
- "The Residents' Third Reich 'N Roll - Multimedia Edition Walkthrough (1994)" on The Residents' YouTube channel
- Homer Flynn, "Homer Flynn (Spokesperson for The Residents) on WZRD Chicago 88.3FM" on Mixcloud, August 5th 2021
- "I know there are plans afoot for some mail order only obscure vinyl too, but The Residents were slightly unsure what the demand would be, so this all bodes well. The complete '1-10 (With A Touch Of 11)' tape, the complete 'German Slide' tape, the complete 'Commercial Album' commercials tape (which I think is a mono mix of the album too) and so on..." - Richard Anderson, The Residents Facebook group, March 19th 2019
- "You know, they just dug out the multitrack tapes for Third Reich N Roll and sent me some things they'd done this week. Kind of stripped down versions, and also some versions with the original playing alongside them. A weird different version of 'In A Gadda Davida' too. They sounded great! No idea what their plan is with it, though. Vinyl I think." - Richard Anderson, Ralph Records Facebook group, September 6th 2019
- The release marks this track as previously unreleased, however it was previously released in its entirety as an RSD MP3 only release in 2010.
- Roughly translates to "It's just a rich display of good old American know-how".
|The Third Reich 'n Roll|
Side A: "Swastikas on Parade"