The Residents

Stars & Hank Forever: The American Composers Series, Vol. II

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The Residents reportedly intended their American Composers Series to last 16 years and cover heaven knows how many volumes. Stars & Hank Forever, which finds the Residents interpreting music by Hank Williams and John Philip Sousa, was the second volume, and it's probably just as well that it turned out to be the last. The charming goofiness that buoyed the first volume (George & James) is replaced by a slightly discomforting sense of borderline disrespect (on the Hank Williams material) and overkill (on the Sousa compositions). Their rendition of "Six More Miles (to the Graveyard)" is genuinely haunting and almost even pretty, but Williams' memory and enormous talent deserve better than the facile deconstructions of "Hey Good-Lookin'" and "Jambalaya" in which the band indulges here. As for the Sousa material, it seems a bit more deserving of parodic treatment than the Hank Williams songs, and the Residents do have lots of fun with "Nobles of the Mystic Shrine," "The Washington Post," and of course, "The Stars & Stripes Forever." But six such arrangements was maybe a few too many in this case. Like the first volume in the series, this one is worthwhile but not essential.

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