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Our Finest Flowers

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Album Review

As part of their 20-year retrospective, the Residents shunned a typical greatest-hits package (there have been plenty of those), and instead recorded an album of reinterpretations of their own catalog — sort of. This is cut-and-paste revisionism, with a melody line from one song, bass parts from another, and lyrics from yet another. Being such, it will make much more sense to the hardened fan than the casual listener. And unlike the previous year's Freak Show, their knack for creating a sonically interesting album returns. "Jungle Bunny," for example, meshes together the Snakefinger song "Picnic in the Jungle" with "Monkey and Bunny," the song written with Renaldo & the Loaf, and brings out a little more of the humor. "Ship of Fools" takes apart "Ship's a Goin' Down" and places it underneath Mark of the Mole's "Worker's Hymn," switching over to a lovely snatch of God in Three Persons for the chorus — the result is undoubtedly more than the sum of its parts, and possibly not greater, but there is a catharsis to hear all these varying themes come together. The group almost makes sense of its history and creates mystery once again.

Biography

Formed: 1966 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, the Residents remained a riddle of Sphinx-like proportions; cloaking their lives and music in a haze of willful obscurity, the band's members never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise — usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks — and refusing to grant media interviews. Drawing inspiration from the likes of fellow innovators including Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart, the...
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