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The Residents

Putting it mildly, Icky Flix, the new DVD from the prepunk San Fran collective the Residents, is just the sort of wack Dadaist madness that could freak out even a post¯Rose MacGowan Marilyn Manson on his best day (assuming the lovely Ms. MacGowan had a positive influence on the boy). This 90-minute compilation of music videos from the nameless, faceless foursome treats viewers to a schizoid goulash of imagery that includes fornicating frogs, Nazi meat, cowboys with double-headed dildos, tiki gods scarfing down giant fried chicken legs, mutant gingerbread men, and suckling pigs sporting lighted candles from every orifice. (Use your imaginations, people.)

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.

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Stephen Lemons
Contact: Stephen Lemons

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