I forgot about Ralph Records again, because it’s been almost two years since their last release. So now it’s been a full three years since Santa Dog, three years to follow that up with the destined to be classic debut album from Ivory & The Braineaters, and they give us… The Residents again. This is a group that is already on the edge of acceptance, and the Nazi theme of this new album isn’t helping matters. Ralph’s plans must somehow dictate only one release in even-numbered years, but they’d better step it up a notch. Ivory is their flagship bandleader, not… whoever The Residents guy is. Now that I notice it, there are no names associated with this band. I don’t blame them; I’d probably keep my name off this stuff if I made it, too.
Like Meet The Residents and its changing structures, there is a marked difference between the tracks. Side one, “Swastikas On Parade,” definitely sounds like a natural follow-up to the first album. Piano, saxophone, percussion and voices are all mixed together in a frenzy of barely controlled chaos. They even repeat the trick of placing other people’s recordings into the mix, this time with Chubby Checker and James Brown. Is that allowed? I guess they can get away with it as long as it’s a few seconds and not an entire song.
The second side, though, immediately hits the listener with the additional sound of orchestral strings. There’s definitely been an upgrade in all aspects: instrumentation, competence, song selection and mixing. As the second side is named “Hitler Was A Vegetarian,” perhaps The Residents are showing their support for vegetarianism, associating it with their musical progress.
The concept of this album seems pretty straightforward. I imagine there was a meeting at Ralph Headquarters (which I’m starting to believe is less high rise in the city and more card table in someone’s garage) in which the heads of the label said “Hey, Residents, here’s the deal: we can’t sell your music. We know that, you know that. The only reason anybody bought your first album is because it looked like The Beatles and the only reason they listened is because there was a Nancy Sinatra song on it. So we want you to do more of that. It will be like those collections of mediocre versions of good songs that have names like ‘The Beat Sound of Liverpool.’ People will buy it because they recognize the names. They’ll hate it, but they still bought it. And we need to bring in money since it looks like Ivory is never going to finish his magnum opus. We should never have let him meet Brian Wilson.”
The Residents failed to hear the insult in this, and only heard “record other people’s songs and make the public hate you.” So we have an album filled with other’s people’s music called The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll. Curiously, the song titles are not listed anywhere. I can only assume there was some legal issue and Ralph Records was stuck with an album they couldn’t release as intended. But they are a label that has had two releases in three years, so they can’t afford to just let something sit on the shelf. If it’s done, put it out there.
But it’s at this point I read the insert, entitled “Why Do The Residents Hate The Beatles?” In it, they mention a second album produced in total secrecy and a claim that it cannot be released until its makers literally forget it exists. With two albums available, Ralph Records went with this, so I can only imagine how bad the other one is. At least advertising it is a way to never forget and therefore never release it. According to the insert, the second album is inspired by the band’s guru, N. Senada, and the back cover of the first album said that he disappeared years ago. He probably stole a lot of money. No wonder Ralph’s hurting.