Volume one in the Residents' dryly named American Composers Series (get those tongues out of your cheeks and start singing, boys) is a collection of compositions by two of America's most famous musical geniuses, George Gershwyn and James Brown. After starting off with a trio of Gershwin numbers ("Rhapsody in Blue," "I Got Rhythm," and "Summertime") all delivered in the Residents' trademark creepy/funny/bewildering style. The program continues with eight tunes taken from James Brown's Live at the Apollo album, one of which is the famous minute-long intro. Weird? You betcha. Effective? Sort of, if you know what you're getting into. The artificially lowered voice, cheesy organ, and fastidiously accurate backing vocals are a hoot on "I'll Go Crazy" and "Try Me," whereas "Think" collapses into chaos, while "Night Train" barely hangs on by virtue of its insanely simple keyboard part. It's difficult to see what the band was trying to say with this project, but wondering what they're trying to say has never been a good way to approach the Residents.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson