There could only be one band at the top of the list of the weirdest bands of all time, and it had to be The Residents. Emerging at the time of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, The Residents were (and are) weirder than any of their contemporaries - both in terms of their music, and in terms of their concepts. The Residents have always been anonymous. No-one knows who they are. A group of conceptual artists, they believe that anonymity grants them creative freedom and encourages people to listen to their music rather than focusing on their image. Their most famous public outfits, the ubiquitous eyeball masks, are how most recognise them. Their music is very surreal. It's like the oddness of Renaldo And The Loaf crossed with the high concepts of 70s prog. Masterpieces like Eskimo, Animal Lover, God In Three Persons and Freak Show cover a wide variety of genres, drawing on electronic instrumentation and home-made instruments (inspired by composers such as Harry Partch). They'd tear apart famous songs with viciously DIY cover versions (The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, James Brown's Man's World, The Beatles' Flying), they created some of the world's first music videos, they create online video projects, they've designed CD-ROM games... They're obsessed with storytelling in practically every format that they turn their attentions to. The Residents are more than just musicians. They're avant-garde multimedia artists. Many know of The Residents' early period, particularly up until the Mole Show Tour in the 1980s. But few realise that they have been consistently putting out bizarre and experimental material since. If you truly like it weird, and you're prepared to brave a back catalogue so large that even the most avid fans probably don't own half of it, then you must dive into The Residents. If you're looking for a place to begin, the new documentary Theory Of Obscurity offers a comprehensive study of the band's history and sheds some light on their most interesting projects. If you're in any doubt about the band's weirdness, just check out Not Available. A crazy synth opera with some of the strangest vocals you've ever heard, it's one of the greatest albums of all time and features the best stream-of-conscious surrealist lyrics in musical history:
Opulent givings are seldom a dread, They help you relieve all them lies in your head. But for the givings beget a sure vain, Leave open a window and let in some rain.