Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Third Reich 'N Roll - (1976)

Technically the third album from the group, though released as a follow-up to Meet the Residents, this 40-minute assault on the music of the '60s follows Picasso's dictum of all artists killing their (aesthetic) fathers. Two side-long medleys of songs both classic ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag") and obscure ("Telstar") are destroyed, deconstructed, mangled, spat on, spit out, ground up, and injected with gleeful humor. If there's any concept here, it's that the brain-numbing catchiness of pop music was fascism in disguise, keeping teenyboppers docile while selling them rebellion, hence the cover art of a gestapo-uniformed Dick Clark holding a carrot. Whether it's only much-suppressed love for these songs (as they went on to return again and again to the themes and artists examined here, including James Brown, "Land of 1000 Dances," and "Double Shot"), it's up to the listener to decide. Mostly any fan of the group will spend many hours trying to decode all the songs here, all the time with a smile on their face. (Officially, there are 29 songs, but there could be more).

[The first CD release (on ESD) added two essential singles plus their B-sides from around the same time. Their cover of the Stones' "Satisfaction" reduces the concepts of the album to three highly unlistenable minutes, guaranteed to tax the patience of any non-fan, a guaranteed lease-breaker, and therefore highly recommended. And their Beatles collage "Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life" cuts and pastes the Fab Four's output into something wondrous and strange. The 1997 rerelease drops these tracks, making the first CD worth hunting out if possible.]

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