Collaboration with The Residents, for the ‘Commercial Album’ – DVD

The Residents are an American art collective and art rock band best known for their avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release, Meet the Residents (1974), they have released over 60 albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects, and ten DVDs. They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple films. Pioneers in exploring the potential of CD-ROM and similar technologies, the Residents have won several awards for their multimedia projects. They founded Ralph Records, a record label focusing on avant-garde music, in 1972.

Throughout the group’s existence, the individual members have ostensibly attempted to work anonymously, preferring to have attention focused on their art. Much speculation and rumor has focused on this aspect of the group. In public, they appear silent and costumed, often wearing eyeball helmets, top hats and tails—a costume now recognized as their signature iconography. In 2017, Hardy Fox, long known to be associated with the Residents, identified himself as the band’s co-founder and primary composer; he died in 2018.

As a longtime Residents fan I was happy to have seen the ‘band’ on many occasions, and while wandering the streets before and after the shows got to shake hands with ‘some people involved with The Residents’. Some great hugs and with a little bribe of belgian chocolate led to an invitation to make a ‘one minute movie’ for the Residents re-issue of the ‘Commercial Album’ as an enhanced DVD.

The Commercial Album is an album released by art rock group the Residents in 1980. It is commonly considered a follow-up to Duck Stab/Buster & Glen, in that it retains the former album’s pop-oriented song structures. The album contains 40 songs, each lasting exactly one minute – a deliberate allusion to Top 40 mainstream radio. The album’s liner notes state that, to form a complete pop song, tracks from the album should be played three times in a row.

The album features a number of guest musicians, notably Chris Cutler and Fred Frith from Henry Cow. Other guests are featured anonymously, such as Andy Partridge from XTC (as “Sandy Sandwich”) and Lene Lovich (as “Mud’s Sis”). It has also been recently confirmed that Brian Eno and David Byrne appear on the album uncredited.

As a promotional stunt, the Residents purchased 40 one-minute advertising slots on San Francisco’s most popular Top 40 radio station at the time, KFRC, such that the station played each track of the album over three days. This prompted an editorial in Billboard magazine questioning whether the act was art or advertising. All tracks last exactly one minute, but with a 3-second pause between songs, making each track last around 1:03.