The Residents – Freak Show (CD Cherry Red)
I’m most familiar with The Residents early work so Freak Show is one I’d heard a lot about but not actually heard before.
Freak Show is best described as a concept album about a bunch of sideshow freaks. Just the sort of thing you’d expect the Residents to be made for. Freak Show also marked the beginning of their interest in computer generated sounds and MIDI devices and heralded a long-lasting love of multimedia which had become much easier to stage with the advances in technology. The album has various characters who sing and appear throughout the albums storyline.
I think when you look at this with the benefit of hindsight and take into account the slightly different path the Residents were treading here then it’s a pretty successful album. The songs have a sideshow/fairground sort of style about them and the variety of characters voicing those songs stops the album from becoming one dimensional.
The release here adds several pieces to the first disc that were recorded around the same time and the two pieces off the original Freak Show that were re-recorded for Icky Flix.
Disc two showcases the jam sessions that the Residents held that yielded up large amounts of instrumental material. While this is interesting from an historical point of view I’m not sure it would be something I would return to very often.
Disc three though is a superb collection of live material with a new restoration of the Ty’s Freak Show performance from 1991 and live version of the album in its correct running order using various recordings across the years from 1995 to 2018.
You have to admire the dedication to quality of these Residents re-issues and this one is well worth adding to the collection. DB