A parody and satire of pop music and commercials from the 1960s, The Third Reich 'n Roll consists of two side-long "semi-phonetic" interpretations of top 40 rock 'n' roll and bubblegum pop hits, some of which are immediately obvious, while others are rendered almost unrecognizable.
Often considered one of the cornerstones of the group's vast catalogue, The Third Reich 'n Roll was recorded (for the most part) over two one-week sessions. The first was in October 1974, and the second one year later.
The concept behind these sessions was simple. With their new Tascam 8-track tape recorder, The Residents would take a recording of a 1960s bubblegum pop track, then lay their own tracks over the top of them, one by one. When the piece of music was complete, they erased the original track from the master, leaving a suitably mangled cover version performed by The Residents.
The Third Reich 'n Roll is the group's first distinct concept album (not counting the shelved Not Available, recorded in 1974 but not relased until 1978). The album was designed to satirically point out similarities between the music industry (which The Residents had only just begun to experience as direct participants while operating Ralph Records between 1972 and 1976) and the Nazi Third Reich which ruled Germany during World War II.
For the most part, the songs appear one after the other or segue nearly together in a simple medley format, though some songs feature references to entirely different tracks (for example the version of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" which closes the album also prominently features the backing vocals from The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil").
Cover art, imagery and censorship EditThe packaging and promotion of the album (by Homer Flynn and his Pore No Graphics design company) featured strong Nazi and fascistic imagery, in keeping with the "Third Reich" theme of the album's concept, and the arresting and confrontational imagery the group had previously produced. The promotional photos of the group featured four men in giant swastika collars, with their eyes obscured by swastika shaped glasses.
The use of such controversial imagery would cause problems for the band and the then-recently formed Cryptic Corporation. As swastikas could not be displayed or sold anywhere in Germany, the band could not initially release or distribute the album there, and in 1981 they released the album with "censored" stickers over every instance of the swastika (and also, liberally over the rest of the cover).
Later, around the mid 1990s, Flynn would design an entirely new version of the cover for release in Germany, featuring the figures of Adolf Hitler and Madonna in place of the original figure of Dick Clark.
Promotional video Edit
The group made a short film to promote the album, for air on an Australian television programme in early 1977. The clip, including a six-minute "concentrate" of a number of pieces from the album, eventually would be seen as one of the very first music videos ever made.
The Third Reich 'n Roll promotional video was filmed on newspaper-covered sets, with the band in costumes also created from newspapers. These costumes caused more PR issues for the band, since the tall, conical hoods of the costumes led some to think that the group was promoting the Ku Klux Klan. In actual fact, the costumes appeared this way simply because it was the easiest way to make a functional head-covering out of newspaper.
The video, as well as the group's entire catalog of releases, is included in the Museum of Modern Art.
The Third Reich 'n Roll became The Residents' first successful release; while not opening the band to a great deal of wider mainstream publicity, they sold the entire run of 1000 copies, and the success of the new album helped revive sales of Meet The Residents.
As a further promotion, Ralph released a special limited release of twenty-five collector's boxes in 1980. The packaging was very elaborate: the disk was hand pressed in red marbled vinyl with a silk-screened sleeve and labels, all wrapped up in a black, velvet-lined wooden box. The box opened by a sliding panel which was hand silk-screened with the cover art, and contained two signed and numbered lithographs, all bundled up in a draw-string bag crafted from the plastic bags used by Christo in his art piece Running Fence.
Track listing Edit
1. Swastikas on Parade (17:30) Edit
- Sample: Chubby Checker - "Let's Twist Again" (German version)
- "Land of a Thousand Dances"
- "Hanky Panky"
- "A Horse with No Name"
- "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)"
- "The Letter"
- "Psychotic Reaction"
- "Little Girl"
- "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (sung in German)
- "Talk Talk"
- "I Want Candy"
- "To Sir, with Love"
- "Wipe Out"
- "Heroes and Villains"
2. Hitler Was A Vegetarian (18:27) Edit
- "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)"
- "96 Tears"
- "It's My Party"
- "Light My Fire"
- "Ballad of the Green Berets"
- "Yummy Yummy Yummy"
- "Rock Around the Clock"
- "Pushin' Too Hard"
- "Good Lovin'"
- "Sunshine of Your Love"
- "Hey Jude"
- "Sympathy for the Devil"
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, the complete Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! live performance (plus a "concentrate" of the backing tape used during the performance), as well as later live and studio versions of pieces from this period.
Track listing Edit
(*) indicates tracks which are previously unreleased.
Disc 1 Edit
The Third Reich 'n Roll + Third Reich ephemera
- Swastikas on Parade (17:28)
- Hitler Was a Vegetarian (18:21)
- Satisfaction (4:32)
- Loser ≅ Weed (2:11)
- Beyond The Valley of a Day in the Life (3:59)
- Flying (3:24)
- 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)
Disc 2 Edit
Third Reich ephemera
- The 'Oh Mummy' Show (Live, 1976) (*) (29:35)
- The Letter (1982 Rehearsal) (*) (1:39)
- Satisfaction (Live, Madrid, 1983) (*) (3:49)
- Land of 1000 Dances (Scott Colburn 1992 mix) (*) (4:10)
- 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)
Liner notes Edit
"Why do The Residents hate The Beatles?" Edit
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.
See also Edit
- The Third Reich 'n Roll (video)
- The Beatles Play The Residents And The Residents Play The Beatles
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at The Residents Historical
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at RZweb
- The Third Reich 'n Roll at Discogs
- The Third Reich 'n Roll pREServed edition at Cherry Red Records