Recorded as a break from their film project Vileness Fats, the album was home-produced and recorded between February and October 1973, based around N. Senada's "Theory of Phonetic Organization". Its album cover brought the band to prominence, being a parody of Meet the Beatles!, The Beatles' second US album release. EMI and Capitol were angry with the cover and threatened to sue (though it is rumored that George Harrison or Ringo Starr loved the cover and bought a copy).
The album was not an immediate success despite its provocative album art, and only sold forty copies in its first year. The album began to sell following the relative success of The Third Reich 'n Roll in 1976, at which point The Cryptic Corporation received the original masters used to create the original monaural version of the album, and proceeded to remix and re-edit the tracks to create an entirely new stereo mix - in the process, shortening the album overall by nearly seven minutes.
The remixed and shortened version of Meet The Residents would be released in 1977, but due to the complaints from EMI and Capitol, the reissue featured a different cover, still parodying The Beatles, but this time featuring "John Crawfish, George Crawfish, Paul McCrawfish, and Ringo Starfish", with illustrations of the applicable sea creatures wearing Beatles suits.
Subsequent re-releases of the album have alternated between these two versions. The first CD pressing was the first edition to restore the full unedited mono version, but subsequent CD editions have reverted to the edited master. The 1988 reissue of the album also included the Santa Dog EP as bonus tracks.
Although Meet The Residents was largely ignored at the time of its release, it has since garnered critical acclaim. David Cleary of AllMusic gave the album 4 stars, calling the band "true avant-garde crazies...[their] work of this time really sounds like nothing else that exists."
Nils Bernstein of eMusic also gave the album 4 stars, saying its "brilliance lies in collaging less avant-garde elements like vaudeville, early rock ‘n’ roll, world music and snippets of pop culture in "songs" that were as disorienting as the barrage of media and consumerism they subtly critiqued – the medium is the message, indeed."
In a positive review, Julian Cope said of the album "just as DJ's would play the best minute and a half or so the latest garage, soul or pop hits before fading it out into another great single before the listener gets bored, the Residents weld together a collage of the most annoyingly catchy riffs and tunes leaving the listener initially confused and later hooked."
Track listing Edit
Original mono version
- Boots (Hazelwood) (1:38)
- Numb Erone (1:05)
- Guylum Bardot (1:19)
- Breath and Length (1:45)
- Consuelo's Departure (1:44)
- Smelly Tongues (1:46)
- Rest Aria (5:06)
- Skratz (1:44)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (6:35)
- Infant Tango (5:57)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:06)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (9:41)
1977 stereo remix
- Boots (Hazelwood) (0:53)
- Numb Erone (1:07)
- Guylum Bardot (1:21)
- Breath and Length (1:42)
- Consuelo's Departure (0:59)
- Smelly Tongues (1:47)
- Rest Aria (5:09)
- Skratz (1:42)
- Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)
- Infant Tango (5:27)
- Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
- N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (7:16)
Liner notes Edit
Original pressing Edit
The Residents began collecting interesting and unusual tapes in the early 60's in an effort to expand their awareness of the very nature of sound. The tapes came from everywhere... cassettes of soldiers in Vietnam singing songs with impromptu instrumentation... reels from second hand shops... sounds effects and bird call collections from garage sales... and, yes, even a few bootleg tapes of well known pop artists going avant-garde between takes which were purchased on the black market and stored in a local bank vault.
The Residents not only collected other peoples tapes, but gained widespread notoriety for their unusual recordings. The underground network carried their reputation across the oceans where it finally hit the ears of the then unknown Englishman, "Snakefinger" Lithman. Packing a few clothes, he flew directly to San Mateo, California where the Residents then had their sound studios, in hopes of studying tapes of early Cajun music the Residents were alleged to have recorded while in college in Louisiana. Snakefinger had also brought an acquaintance that he had met in the woods of Bavaria while on an expedition there for Britain. That friend was none other than The Mysterious N. Senada who had developed a complex musical system based upon phonetics.
For six months Snakefinger, N. Senada (who spoke very little English), and The Residents worked together recording and listening to tapes. A few lucky people were even able to catch impromptu performances by The Mysterious N. Senada and Snakefinger at several of San Francisco's folk and jazz clubs.
The Residents negotiated with Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt over the rights to the Snakefinger/N. Senada/Residents tapes, but Warner Bros. hit by a slump in record sales, decided the audience appeal was too limited and at the last minute withdrew their offer.
Snakefinger returned to England to become a rock and roll star, and The Mysterious N. Senada, well he just disappeared one day. The Residents have ventured to guess that he has probably gone to the arctic regions. He believes some musical link is hidden among the Eskimos of the frozen north.
The music on this album is not that of Snakefinger or of The Mysterious N. Senada. The Residents have taken the basic ideas of the phonetic organization but have applied the theories to a more Western style of music. The translation does not always hold intact, though there is more than enough example of this staggering new music style.
The instruments used on this record have been tuned to approximate Western culture harmonies and artistic freedom is assumed for the right to substitute normal instruments where necessary. Listen closely to the record. Let the strangeness wear off through a couple of plays. Soon you too will whistle the merry tunes and wonder along with The Residents who that old man N. Senada really was.
1977 reissue Edit
Meet The Residents was originally released in 1974, on the Ralph Records label. The tapes were monaural recordings on home equipment and suffered further fidelity loss in the mastering and pressing stages. In 1976, The Cryptic Corporation came into legal possession of The Residents recordings, and began working on how to restore these original tapes to studio quality. Using the master tape as a directive, the album was disassembled, reprocessed, and reconstructed into this true stereophonic version. No re-recording was employed. The artists who appear on this recording have personally approved this as an authorized realization of the original LP.