Then there's the music: short, repetitive tunes with refrains like "I am coming, Constantinople," sung by disembodied heads (a Residents obsession); new-wave covers of James Brown hits; tweaked, hyper surf medleys accompanied by dancing bands of Klansmen, their vestments fashioned from old newspapers; and the occasional, strangely moving ballad that could pass for a Muzak version of a classic Beatles tune.
Bizarre, eh? But what else would you expect from a 30-year-old group that's remained defiantly anonymous, the members' features forever hidden by the giant eyeballs they wear over their heads along with their trademark tuxedos and white gloves? They don't give interviews or confirm any biographical details, despite the fact that Rolling Stone worships them and the Museum of Modern Art in New York has acquired copies of their videos for its permanent collection. Loony they may be, but it works for them.
Actually anyone familiar with Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Samuel Beckett, Salvador Dalí, or Luis Buñuel will recognize the Residents' shtick. Just watch Buñuel's L'Âge d'Or before Icky Flix, and you'll get the point. The Residents hark back to the days when Dada and then surrealism were major artistic forces, and they call to mind all the creative talents touched by same. Think of them as Mark Mothersbaugh's worst nightmare -- a concept band with staying power. They'd kick Devo's ass and eat its offspring for breakfast, were they ever given the opportunity.