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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents

In Between Dreams: Live In San Francisco

Review by Gary Hill

The Residents' brand of sonic strangeness is not for everyone. I like it, but I completely understand why people don't. I also understand why some might not think of it as progressive rock. It definitely qualifies as art rock, though. This new live album (recorded in 2018) is a classic example. It's also a nice set. It includes the CD and a DVD of the show (with a couple extra songs). I really like the set list here, and the whole show works pretty well at presenting different sides of the act. I'm always amazed that these guys can produce this kind of music live. It always seems like the sound they build must be a studio creation, but they prove otherwise.

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Track by Track Review
Jelly Jack The Boneless Boy
This comes in slow moving and dramatic. It has a dramatic and electronic vibe to it. There are some world music melodies in the mix. The piece works through a number of changes, embodying strange art zones much of the time. Echoey, freaky vocals at the end are so cool and a bit unsettling.
Mickey The Mumbling Midget
Heavy and dramatic sounds are part of the tapestry on this. Mellower melodies that are almost pulsating are heard at times. The cut, like most music from this act, doesn't stay in one place for long. I love the dramatic instrumental movement at the end of the piece.
Baby Sister
Coming out of the previous piece, this is slow moving and almost feels like severely tweaked blues music. The cut has a number of twists and turns, feeling suitably deranged and drugged out as it works forward.
The Black Behind
I love the dramatic dark and twisted proggy sounds that create the backdrop of this number as it begins. The vocals come in angry and demented. The cut shifts towards a freaked out rant as those vocals remain while the music twists toward freaky atmospherics. There is a dream-like quality to it. It gets more freaked out as the vocals turn to a more screamed, panicked delivery. The song pounds with a weird electronic mode.
Monkey Man
Chiming tuned percussion type sounds are heard as this number gets under way. The song evolves into some dense musical zones that get pretty heavy and noisy at times. Yet, there is a slow moving, echoey almost sparse quality to it at times, too. That kind of dichotomy is one of the things that The Residents do so well. This gets very dark and twisted later.
It's A Man's Man's Man's World
A bouncy, playful kind of vibe is heard as this number gets underway. This is a dramatic and driving piece with almost a more mainstream sound that some of the others. Don't get me wrong, though. This is The Residents. It only gets so mainstream.
Rushing Like A Banshee
Fast paced and rocking sounds are on display here. This is another that has a focus that's a bit more mainstream rock oriented. It's still suitably strange, though. The track is one of the shortest ones here.
Train Vs Elephant
The arrangement on this is dense and rich. The number is a powerful tapestry of sound. We hear the train late in the track.
From The Plains To Mexico
A mellow tapestry of sound serves as the backdrop for a strange vocal. It gets noisier as it continues.
Africa Tree
Driving music that leans toward noisy symphonic prog is on display here. This isn't far removed from Rock in Opposition.
Hungry Hound
I love this driving, harder-edged and dark cut. It's wonderfully crazed.
Tell Me
This seems to drive with an almost metal guitar sound and vocals that lean toward screamed. It's another potent piece.
Die! Die! Die!
A driving and noisy number, this is one of the most dramatic cuts here.
Teddy Bear
A noisy and rather freaky tune, this is a bit weirder than some of the rest - which says a lot. Yet, the cut also has some incredibly cool musical moments that really transcend the strangeness and elevate the piece.
Tourniquet Of Roses
This cut has rich sonic tapestries and real prog-like elements at play. It's dramatic and so effective. It's freaky, but also freaky cool. It eventually drifts into a weird, mostly vocal section that holds the last portion of the track.
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