Odd, Even for the Residents
I like The Residents very much, but this is one strange recording. Stars and Hank Forever! (The American Composer's Series - Volume II), released in 1986, was the second volume in what was apparently intended to be at least a 10 volume set. (According to the liner notes, it "will contain the music of not less than twenty composers".) As it turns out, only two volumes were released. The first (which I have never heard) featured the music of George Gershwin and James Brown. This volume features the music of Hank Williams and John Philip Sousa. Yes, really.
Side one features 5 songs written by Hank Williams (except for track 3, by Williams/Rose). They vary greatly in quality. The first track, Hey Good Lookin', is possibly the best track on the album, due in no small part to Snakefinger on slide guitar. The second track, Six More Miles (to the Graveyard), is suitably creepy. The third track, though, Kaw-liga, really leaves me flat. The Residents somehow manage to remove all the elements that make the original version great without adding anything interesting to take their place. The fourth and fifth tracks are alright, but in my opinion none of these tracks are as good as The Residents covering the Hank Williams song I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry on the Potatoes compilation. Don't get me wrong, I like side one, and still enjoy listening to it after 20 years, it just didn't quite live up to my expectations.
Side two is a different matter entirely. It is quite interesting, but I have a hard time listening to it for very long. It kind of reminds me of Danny Elfman's soundtrack for Big Top Pee-Wee, only much more demented. It's titled Sousaside, and is made up of marches written by John Philip Sousa. The CD version of this album has the six featured marches separated into individual tracks, but the original intent of Sousaside is that it would sound like a parade, with crowd noise, and a hypothetical marching band playing the marches, with the drum section doing that little time-keeping thing that the drummers do between tracks. So it all runs together as one long track. That is the form in which it appears on this blog as well.
Incidentally, with the links to Potatoes and Snakefinger that appear in the comments for Best of Ralph, I've no more Ralph vinyl to post. I have some other obscure vinyl I'll post for you soon, but my Ralph posts are done.
This time I will give you a complete track listing:
- Hey Good Lookin'
- Six More Miles (to the Graveyard)
- Ramblin' Man
- Sousaside, featuring....
- Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
- The Stars & Stripes Forever
- El Capitan
- The Liberty Bell
- Semper Fidelis
- The Washington Post
pw = Jambalaya