The former bass player from The Front Line
• Swastikas on Parade
• Hitler Was a Vegetarian
A censored version of the cover art was created for 2500 copies for export into Germany where Nazi symbolism is illegal.
Mute skirts the Swastika ban in Germany
Euro Ralph skirts the Swastika ban in Germany
This album is the first published example of two things for which The Residents became known: the concept album and music about music. Considered by some to be the cornerstone of The Residents' reputation, The Third Reich 'N' Roll consists of two tracks (one on each side of the LP), each a medley of deconstructed (dismembered?) covers of popular songs from the '60s.
In the original album liner notes, The Cryptic Corporation calls The Third Reich 'N' Roll The Residents' "tribute to the thousands of little power-mad minds in the music industry who have helped make us what we are today, with an open eye on what we can make them tomorrow." The ESD Classic Series CD liner notes call the album a "scathingly satirical look at '60's bubble-gum rock somehow twisted into shocking '70's bubble-gum avant-garde". Other descriptions included "Pop meets Dada", "the 60's as done by the 70's German avant-garde". Uncle Willie describes the album as "[taking] all your favourite bubble gum riffs from the sixties, dress[ing] them up in avant-guard drag, and send[ing] them into the streets to break windows".
The Residents put a lot of effort into the packaging and promotion of the album. In keeping with the "Third Reich" theme, the promotional photos featured men in swastika glasses and wearing giant swastika collars. The Nazi references and swastikas were a problem all through the album's history.
In fact, the album couldn't be released in Germany at all because the swastikas in the cover art are banned there. The band put out a "censored" version of the album cover in responce.
The Residents also made a short film to promote the album -- one of the very first music videos. It is in two parts. The first features The Residents, in newspaper costumes, dancing around to the album's version of Land of 1000 Dances in a newspaper world the band created in their studio. In the second half, a newspaper man is joined by an Atomic Shopping Cart, giant pork chops, and various other props from the Vileness Fats movie in a pixelated dance. The newspaper costumes caused more publicity problems for the band, though, since the tall, conical hoods led some of people to think that the group was promoting the Ku Klux Klan. In actual fact, the costumes were made that way because that was the simplest way to make a head-covering out of newspaper.
Ralph Records also released a special limited release of twenty-five The Third Reich 'N' Roll 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. The whole thing was bundled up in a draw-string bag made of fabric left over from a Christo's art project.
UNCLE WILLIE'S HIGHLY OPINIONATED GUIDE TO THE RESIDENTS
Pop meets Dada on The Third Reich ‘N’ Roll. Has rock ‘n’ roll been distracting us from (or lying to us about) the ugliness of the real world, seducing us with the music’s inherent mad little power fantasies? In 1975 The Residents released their first great parody album. It consisted of two LP-side-long suites, constructed out of almost unrecognizably ugly cover versions of rock classics of the 1960’s. The first suite was called “Swastikas on Parade”, the second was “Hitler was a Vegetarian.”
The album kicks off with a Resident imitating Adolph Hitler imitating Chubby Checker singing “Let’s Twist Again, Like We Did Last Summer.” There’s a rendition of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” sung in German, and recognizable only for its short blasts from a horn section. There’s a wistful “Judy in Disguise,” a tribute to their fellow Louisianian, John Fred.
There’s a Kabuki rendition of “Gloria,” a comatose version of “Good Lovin’,” and an ugly “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” (a song which would take on major importance in their music many years later) among dozens of others.
This is certainly an album from their early, primitive period. Most of the songs’ segues seem to have been created through tape editing. However the album culminates in a very sophisticated medley, musically combining “Inna-Godda-Divida,” “Hey Jude” and “Sympathy for the Devil” into a seamless whole.
Releasing cover versions of other people’s hits quickly became a major part of The Resident's repertoire. On their early interpretations, whether the songs are innocuous (”Flying,” “The Hanky Panky,” “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To”) or anti-social (”The Ballad of the Green Berets,” “Psychotic Reaction,” “Talk Talk,” “Sympathy for the Devil”) the lyrics are unintelligible or non existent–suggesting that it is not the lyrics, but the mindlessness of rock culture which is tipping us on the brink of fascist apocalypse.
In the Eighties, The Residents would take the opposite approach. They would make the lyrics very clear–proving that pop songs always have blatantly manipulative lyrics, but we never notice because we’re too distracted by a bitchin’ beat, and the good looks of groovy-guitar playing guys.
The Third Reich ‘N’ Roll’s somewhat controversial cover art depicts Dick Clark dressed as a Nazi, clutching a tantalizing carrot. He dangles the carrot before the youth of America, just as Snuffy Smith had dangled a carrot before the nose of Barney Google’s horse while leading him to the glue factory.
- Sinister Scratcher
First CD Release
"Why do The Residents hate The Beatles?"
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 treated so non-seriously. The real Beatles, obviously being more intelligent than their fans, thought it was hilarious. Capitol Records, predictably, thought the cover should be changed, so it was.
Then there was the second album, Not Available. Produced in total secrecy, the album is a conceptualization of the theory of obscurity, as applied to phonetic organisation, as originally put forth by the Bavarian avantguardist, N. Senada, with whom The Residents worked in the late 1960's. According to the theory of obscurity, the album was not to be released. However, in 1978, four years later after completion, the LP was released to fulfill contractual obligations.
In a 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 fourty hits from the sixties. "Our roots", say The Residents, a bright orange carrot clutched lovingly in their extended hands.
The Residents play all the instruments except for additional vocals by Zeibak and Peggy Honeydew, and some fancy guitar by Gary from Beserkely. Produced by The Residents 1974-75.
Important Message: The Residents freely admit that the riffs, words, and even sometime the arrangements found on The Third Reich 'N' Roll were shamelessly lifted from their memory of top forty radio of the sixties. We, as the parent company, support The Residents in their tribute to the thousands of little power-mad minds of the music industry who have helped make us what we are today, with an open Eye on what we can made them tomorrow. -- The CrypticCorporation / Ralph Records
Euro Ralph Re-Release CD Release
When The Third Reich 'n' Roll first came out in 1976, it was the third album-length project of The Residents. Actually, this re-release is the third product on Euro Ralph. Due to legal problems in Germany, the original cover with swastikas being part of the cover-art, led to a situation where this masterpiece was not for sale legally in Germany. The de-swastikafied CENSORED LP version of the Third Reich 'n' Roll for the German market is now a collector's item and proves that the cover problem has been around for quite a while. Euro Ralph feels the time has come to bring this issue to an end and as a result you hold the third artwork for the Third Reich 'n' Roll in your hands. Since the layout had to be adjusted to DIGIPAK sizes Euro Ralph took the opportunity to change the front illustration of the cover which is now 100% swastika-free. More than that, we have put effort into the sound too. The original tapes have been digitally reworked by Tony Janssen and yes, they do sound better. Anyway, we hope you enjoy our product. Euro Ralph, autumn 1993
ESD Classic Series CD Re-Release
The Residents third album was released in 1976. The love/hate relationship the Eyeball-Ones have with pop music has, perhaps, never been better stated than in this scathingly satirical look at '60's bubble-gum rock somehow twisted into shocking '70's bubble-gum avant-guard. With a swift kick in the balls, The Residents leave rock and roll as fodder for tomorrows' dough-brains.
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Dance music for epileptics. Shake, rattle and seize!
Showing the music of their youth through the funhouse mirror, the Rz (who had not yet adopted the eyeball as one of their disguises) show here that they are indeed the grand observers of popular American culture - And they make no bones about giving it to us as *they* see it. The tyranny of 4/4 no more! No longer tied to the institutions of old, the Rz show us that the "rules" are made to be crumpled up and thrown on the floor - And THEN they trace the creases of that crumpled paper to draw a new map to territories unseen. Sounds grandiose, sure, but can you think of anything more pertinent to this album? To call this an album of "covers" is certainly a stretch, as our hosts mangle and hack their way, turning what were once staples of radio airplay into some of the most obtuse, un-commercial listening you can shake a collarbone at. And then, all at once, the cover art (and the Rz' career) makes perfect sense.
Their first masterpiece. A stupendously irreverent barrage of twisted sonic anarchy.....that will either entice or repel...... listening to these 'faithful/faithless deconstructions' of some of our popular tunes of the past will certainly make one re-appraise them in ways that they may never have even thought of before.... for instance, the hilariously warped and atonal take on the "Hey Jude" coda which appears TWICE on the second side will probably make indoor houseplants droop in sheer horror and milk turn sour.....which to me, is probably the intention. As for the stand alone single cover [desecration] of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction"..... it's the ultimate 'fuck you' gesture that renders every single punk record that came out afterwards completely redundant. Love it loads!
This was my first taster of Residents' music. When I first heard it I was just stunned by it. Never heard nothing like it before and never since. For me my favorite album by them and been hooked ever since.
I liked the way they combined old tunes with additional sounds and seamlessly woven together. A great musical sweater if I ever wore one. It is more than "art for art's sake"; very clever.
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