Artist: "The Residents"
Album: "Not Available"
Genre: Miscellaneous
Label: Ralph Records

Reviewer: Max Burbank
Posted: 1/21/2008

Review: There is no point at all in comparing The Residents to any other band, any other music. A thing utterly unto themselves, without precedent, and while influential never successfully imitated, you’ll just have to listen to them, a thing that isn’t that easy at first.

“Not Available” is a concept album of sorts. Characters and themes recur, a tale is certainly being told, but it’s difficult if not impossible to follow. An enigmatic narrator, Uncle Remus, narrates the story of Edweena, her pet porcupine and a Catbird, who form the points of some sort of love triangle.

There are tantalizing moments of coherence. Edweena goes to college with the Porcupine. They are in love, but there relationship is fragile. The Porcupine is uneasy, insecure in the face of Edweena's distant, sleepy nature. Momentarily we are on firm ground as far as the story line goes, but try decoding the Porcupine’s soliloquy that follws:

“A huge easy cozy wants our kiss to triumph,
But unbelievable admits --
Some questions receive a guarantee to shake you up.
How much marriage urges a windmill to pinch infinity?
Is a magic hid-a-bed the final home of Spanish fire?
Is firm corn merrier under gifts of less important love?
We wonder.
But fantasy moves ahead;
For the iceman just took a turn for the better
And a small object flies from his mouth;
A daring, jewel scales down the belted ear system
And you have the modular optimistic silver original.
Welcome to the offshoots of Jupiter.”
A Chorus concludes:
“Edweena never knowing why her friend would ramble so
She shut him out and left a pout to bleed upon the snow.”

The music itself is moody, encompassing, slipping from melody to sound collage and back again. It opens on window on a world where something is definitely happening but you don’t know what it is (do you, Mister Jones?), as if you are watching someone else’s dream.

According to official Resident’s lore, Not Available was recorded in 1974, immediately after their debut album “Meet the Residents”, but was not released until 1978 as part of a musical experiment called “The Theory of Obscurity” wherein a finished work could not be released until the artists had forgotten whatever motivated it’s creation. It should be noted that the Residents, whose identities have never been released over a career now spanning more than three decades and sixty albums, are notorious liars and fabulists.

Perhaps deliberately, “Not Available” has been out of print and not available for much of it’s history, but it’s currently in print. Short samples can be heard on Amazon.com if you want to know what you’re in for.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Is a thin donkey
Jan 22nd, 2008, 12:37 AM
Ah, The Residents. "We are simple, you are simple, like this simple tune..."
Creepy Old Fart
Jan 22nd, 2008, 01:22 AM
I used to have this on vinyl.
Jan 22nd, 2008, 05:11 AM
HERE is a link to the Amazon page for those interested in that previewy thingy (there are two versions of the cd on amazon and only one has a preview)

ps the residents are a band that i've always regretted not listening to more of
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:21 AM
I tried giving The Residents a chance as my uncle was a big fan and he game me a copy of God In Three Persons. I guess I was too young as I didn't get it and never game them another chance. Like executioneer, I too regret not listening to more.
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:37 AM
Yeah, God in Three Persons while certainly good isn't where I'd start. Good jumping in points are "The Commercial Album", "The King and Eye" and "Freakshow"
Creepy Old Fart
Jan 23rd, 2008, 01:01 PM
"Third Reich and Roll" might be good, too, if you can find it. It was re-issued along with other Residents classics in 2001? 2002?
Jan 30th, 2008, 06:01 PM
Flynn and Fox are totally the band leaders, no doubt.