Friday, November 11, 2005

Music (Album): The Way We Were by The Residents

Once again, The Residents have swivled their eyeball heads around and are looking back at themselves. Between re-working Santa Dog, their first single, whenever they reach a milestone in their history (four or five times now), the collection albums, the retrospective albums, the anniversary shows, and so on, they end up spending a lot of time on their history. Which makes sense if you consider them to be not just a strange band, but a continuous performance piece poking fun at the whole "music industry".

The Way We Were was a show The Residents put on in Australia as a 33rd anniversary show (or maybe a 20th Anniversary of the 13th Anniversary Show show), and it's just come out as a CD/DVD set.

I haven't watched the DVD yet. The notes say it's not the whole show, just 30 minutes plus some of the set projections. I'll post when I get a chance to watch it.

The CD covers the complete show, which consisted of a new versions of songs from all through The Residents' history. They start off diving right into the nostalgia by introducing the show with a mashup of Barbara Streisand's The Way We Were.

Many of the songs are ones which have shown up in previous retrospective shows -- Lizard Lady, Picnic in the Jungle, Coming of the Crow / Eva's Warning, Jelly Jack, etc. I was surprised not to see yet another reworking of Santa Dog, but was happy to find it hidden away in Ober. The Siging Resident sounds the same as always, making Leonard Cohen sound like Enrico Caruso. Molly Harvey is still performing the female vocals for the group, as she has on all of their recent albums and shows. All in all, it has a very familiar feel to it.

One thing they've done this time that I don't think they've done before is include one of the narrative pieces from God in 3 Persons. In the past, when they've used G3P music, it's just been the instrumental versions (released as God in 3 Persons Soundtrack).

Some of the songs are also too new to have appeared in many retrospectives yet -- some from Wormwood and Demons Dance Alone get their first reworking here.

The Way We Were has a somewhat thin sound. It's a live recording, and sounds under-miked. The orchestration was light as well -- a guitar, a synth, an emulator and drums, and not much else. It definitely sounds like The Residents were travelling light for this show. I saw their Icky Flix tour a few years ago -- another retrospective of sorts -- and the reworkings there were much richer and fuller, thanks to an Alesis AirFX The Residents were experimenting with for the show.

I'm going to have to sit down at some point and count how many different recordings of Hello Skinny I now have. Just on the iPod there are six, but those are each different versions, that doesn't count re-issues on collections.

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