The Tunes of Two Cities is the ninth album by The Residents, released on Ralph Records on March 10th 1982.

The second installment in the group's unfinished six-part Mole Trilogy, following 1981's Mark of the Mole, The Tunes of Two Cities collects and contrasts examples of the music of the trilogy's fictional Mole and Chub cultures.


The Tunes of Two Cities is the second part of The Residents' Mole Trilogy, following (and recorded roughly concurrently with) the 1981 album Mark of the Mole.

Whereas Mark of the Mole conveyed much of the plot of the trilogy to this point, The Tunes of Two Cities acts as the first of a sub-series of companion musical "documentary" albums (similar to their 1979 release Eskimo), further elaborating on the trilogy's dense plot. A second documentary album, The Big Bubble, followed in 1985.

The Tunes of Two Cities was the first album made by the group using the EM-U Emulator. The Residents had been among the first groups to buy an Emulator (theirs was #00005 off the assembly line). One of the first samplers to become available commercially, the Emulator provides most of the sounds on the album, other than the guest appearances: Snakefinger on guitar on "Serenade for Missy" and "Smokebeams", and Norman Salant on saxophone on "Serenade for Missy".

The Residents combined the music from The Tunes of Two Cities with the entirety of the first album of the group's Mole TrilogyMark of the Mole, later in 1982 to create their Mole Show performance tour. The tour became the group's biggest financial disaster, and ultimately led to the cancellation of the Mole Trilogy altogether after the release of the "fifth" album in the series, The Big Bubblein 1985.

Two outtakes from The Tunes of Two Cities were released the following year on the compilation album Residue of The Residents, "Anvil Forest" and "Open Up". These two tracks would later be incorporated into the album proper on the Torso CD reissue in 1988, and are featured as bonus tracks accompanying the album in the 2019 pREServed box set Mole Box.



Album art

The Mole Trilogy synopsis

In The Residents' Mole Trilogy (and related media), the Mohelmot (also known as the Moles) are a tribal, hard-working society who live in holes deep underground and worship a dark god called The Evil Disposer.

In the first album of the trilogy, Mark of the Mole, the Mohelmot are forced out of their ancestral homes by a great storm, and flee to the sea, occupied by a vacuous, lazy culture known as the Chubs. The Chubs are only concerned with leisure, and have no interest in real-world problems.

The hard-working Moles at first please the Chubs as their hard-working nature allows them to fill the jobs that no Chub needs doing. As time passes however, racial tensions arise and rumors and mistrust spread among the two races, leading to a brief war which ends with no clear winner.

Relationship to Mark of the Mole

The Tunes of Two Cities is a companion piece to Mark of the Mole, to the extent that the cover art mirrors that of the first album (with a Chub in place of a Mole). The album's tracks alternate between the fluffy, Art Deco music of the superficial Chubs and the dark, tribal music of the Moles.

To emphasize the conflicting cultures, most of the Chub tracks on The Tunes of Two Cities are instrumental, heavily mutated covers of big band jazz and swing numbers from the 1920s and 1930s; "Mousetrap" and "Happy Home" cover Stan Kenton's "Eager Beaver" and "Machito" respectively, and "Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)" is a version of "In the Mood". The Mole tracks, on the other hand, feature primitive vocal lines consisting of chants and prayers. Their songs features the use of invented instruments and languages, as did The Residents' other musical documentary album, Eskimo.

The only Chub track to feature vocals is "Happy Home", sung by Nessie Lessons. "Happy Home" is billed as an "excerpt from Act II of 'Innisfree'", though the album gives no further clues as to what that might mean. One theory, seemingly supported by The Residents in that it is featured on their official website, is that "Innisfree" is a Chub musical about Moles, roughly analogous to George Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess" (a musical by a white American about black slaves).

Track listing

Original version (1982)

  1. Serenade for Missy (3:16)
  2. A Maze of Jigsaws (2:52)
  3. Mousetrap (3:32)
  4. God of Darkness (3:18)
  5. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth) (3:59)
  6. Praise for the Curse (2:52)
  7. The Secret Seed (2:47)
  8. Smokebeams (2:43)
  9. Mourning the Undead (3:05)
  10. Song of the Wild (3:24)
  11. The Evil Disposer (3:16)
  12. Happy Home (Excerpt from Act II of "Innisfree") (4:46)

Torso CD reissue (1988)

  1. Serenade for Missy (3:17)
  2. A Maze of Jigsaws (2:52)
  3. Mousetrap (3:24)
  4. God of Darkness (3:09)
  5. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth) (3:49)
  6. Praise for the Curse (2:47)
  7. Open Up (2:19)
  8. Anvil Forest (2:23)
  9. Scent of Mint (2:30)
  10. The Secret Seed (2:47)
  11. Smokebeams (2:43)
  12. Mourning The Undead (3:06)
  13. Song of the Wild (3:22)
  14. The Evil Disposer (3:15)
  15. Happy Home (Excerpt from Act II of "Innisfree") (4:42)

Liner notes


Advert, May 1982

The Tunes of Two Cities is the second part of The ResidentsMole Trilogy which began with Mark of the Mole. While the first part is an elaborately told story of political and social struggle, Two Cities is a documentation of the music of these two cultures as they were before fate threw them into turmoil.

The tracks on this disc alternate between societies. First one culture... then the other... making its point, not just by what is said... but by the listener's willingness to understand the globe wrenching power of "difference"

Release history

Year Label Format Region
1982 Ralph Records LP US
1985 LP
1988 Torso NL
East Side Digital US
1997 Bomba Records JP
1998 East Side Digital US
2005 Mute EU
2011 Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings JP

See also

Listen online

External links and references

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