The Residents - Assorted Secrets

Why does the band hate "Assorted Secrets" so much? They have no reason to. Maybe the Residents became so obsessed with manicuring their canon, polishing everything up with digital technology and sanding off all the rough edges, that they can't bear to have released music that's this raw. That nervy rawness, though, is exactly what I love about "Assorted Secrets". The album consists of tests and rehearsals for the Mole Show tour, all recorded live and not initially intended to be heard by anyone but themselves. Where the 1980's would see the Residents' music become flatter and their concepts more opaque, "Assorted Secrets" only sounds like four guys playing imperfectly but with real energy,  trying things out and making mistakes, and the imperfect recording quality just makes it all sound more urgent, compelling, and private. I prefer these recordings to the versions that came out on "Mark of the Mole" and especially the cloying, Steely-Dan-esque hospital-ward austerity of "The Tunes of Two Cities".

Ralph Records issued "Assorted Secrets" as a small-edition cassette in 1984, then reissued it as a CD limited to 1200 copies (which sounds ridiculous here, a blog on which we regularly post albums that were made in single-digit editions, but 1200 is a small number for The Residents) in 2000. To these ears, "Assorted Secrets" is the last evidence of the same band that made "Not Available", "Duck Stab", and "The Third Reich n' Roll". After the Mole Show tour (which they have admitted was a disaster), the band changed direction and they spent 20 years riding on their legacy. Subsequent albums featured stilted and antiseptic MIDI, increased reliance on cover songs (none of which scaled the conceptual and emotional heights of "Satisfaction"), anniversaries, and constant historical revision. As such, "Assorted Secrets" is exciting and important, even if the band would prefer that a mysterious stranger locked in a safe-deposit box until everyone involved forgot that it existed. Tough luck.

The Residents - Assorted Secrets


Anonymous,  7 September 2014 at 19:02  

and all hail the residents, nce again!