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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents

Gingerbread Man: 3CD pREServed Edition

Review by Gary Hill

The Residents are the kind of act that by definition won't appeal to everyone. I happen to like them quite a bit. Yes, they are strange, and sometimes abrasive. They are also incredibly creative and artistic. This new three CD set starts off with the album from which the title comes. It's an intriguing album that is tied together by musical themes that are present throughout. The first CD is finished with live recordings of some of the tracks on the album. Disc two includes short instrumental snippets (that definitely qualify as progressive rock) along with an instrumental mix of the album. Disc three includes a rare album titled "Hunters" and some other tracks that serve like an EP prelude to "The Teds." The whole collection comes in a nice digipack and includes a booklet. This is a great release that should please fans of the band, like myself. I doubt it will earn them any new converts, but those of us who "get it" will be greatly pleased as much of this was previously unreleased.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Disc One
Gingerbread Man
The Weaver

Classically based instrumentation brings this cut into being. The track works outward picking up more rock based sound. It's decidedly melodic and proggy. It's also very cool. Weird female operatic vocals enter bringing the kind of oddity you expect from this band. The music retains a lot of classical texture and style. More mainstream female vocals are on the menu for the next vocal movement. That vocal section is so powerful and compelling. There are some spoken vocals in the mix later bringing a story of fear.

The Dying Oilman
This number comes in with the same musical themes we heard on the opener. The vocals on this are of the male variety. The track has a theatrical concept to it and is decidedly Residents music. This is bouncy and bombastic. Eventually it works out to a spoken section. The lyrics delve into the concept of the title and are told from his perspective. A musical interlude with some mysterious elements ends the piece.
The Confused Transsexual
I can make out the familiar themes from the previous tracks on the classically tinged opening to this piece. The cut works forward with some weirdness as it continues. The vocals are more of the sung variety and female. This is a slow moving piece that has the pace of a funeral dirge. There are a lot of spoken vocals along this road.
The Sold-Out Artist
I love the way this starts with the same themes, but delivered in a more symphonic rock mode. The cut evolves from there in an electronic way. This has both theatrical sung vocals and spoken ones. The spoken ones get really echoey. This has a psychedelic, psychotic vibe to it.
The Ascetic
Weird classically inspired music is on the menu here. This is so tasty. Again some of the vocals are sung and some spoken. The later sections are in a driving sort of electronic mode.
The Old Soldier
More of a driving tune at times, this has shifts to more pure weirdness, too. The cut is trademark Residents.
The Aging Musician
This is one of the stranger pieces here. Given the competition that says a lot. There is a bouncy kind of trippy weirdness to this. The vocals are high pitched and operatic female sung ones. There is a classical element to this piece. Well, at least all that describes the first movement. The cut shifts to a different kind of groove for the next vocals. Those are of the male variety, and mostly sung. Spoken vocals later gripe about MTV.
The Butcher
We get a reprise of the opening song's chorus at the start of this number. The track wanders into some chaotic jazz at times. This is a particularly dynamic and driving piece. This gets decidedly trademark Residents before.
The Old Woman
The main theme we hear throughout the album returns at the start of this, this time whistled. Instruments take it up as the track continues. Female vocals are on the menu here. This has a real classical edge to the musical arrangement, too. There are hints of jazz on this, as well. It gets more electronic and spacey at points. Weird layers of spoken vocals emerge as the cut twists into decidedly spacey joins.
Ginger's Lament
The central repeated musical theme of the album returns at the start of this. This has the strangest vocals of the whole album proper.
Live Ginger
The Gingerbread Man (1997)

As much as I liked the studio version of this, I think I like this even better. Musically it's trippy. The sung vocals are so weird and warbly.

The Aging Musician (1997)
Coming directly out of the previous cut, this has an ambient introduction with spoken lyrics. After the opening section, hard-edged guitar textures bring a real rocking sound to this. The crowd sure loves the anti-MTV sentiment on this song. The main character on this seems even more crazed than on the studio version.
The Old Woman (1997)
Coming out of the previous piece, this works well in this live format. The cut features a spoken introduction. The female vocals on this are stranger than those on the studio version. The vocals on this version are delivered overly mostly ambient elements, but some more classically based sounds do rise up as it continues.
The Sold-Out Artist (1997)
After a reprise of the main theme of the album, this drops to a spoken introduction. This thing turns bombastic, heavy and driving later. It really deviates and elevates from the studio version of the piece. The main theme returns later.
Gingerbread Man Suite (2001)
I like the playful processed take on the main theme that starts this live version. This nearly ten-minute piece captures parts from a lot of the various cuts on the studio album. It covers a good amount of territory and brings interesting variants.
The Old Woman (2011)
There is more of a purely electronic vibe to this version of the tune. The vocals are weird processed ones. This is tastefully freaky. It turns into harder rocking territory further down the road with some killer guitar and science fiction vocals over the top.
The Confused Transsexual (2013)
I really dig the electronic percussive texture that brings this track into being. The guitar painting waves of sound over the top is cool. That guitar has some smoking hot soloing later, too. This gets into some almost more traditional progressive rock zones at times.
Disc Two
The Fat Boy Tape
This short instrumental cut is quite classical in nature and tastefully strange.
Last Ton
While this is also classical in nature, it is more electronic in delivery.
Even more electronic, this is also quite percussive.
Tastefully strange, this has a rather playful mode that has hints of world music in the mix.
Devise LP
Percussive and buuncy, this is an intriguing musical exploration.
Mood I
Dramatic and rather classical in nature, I like this quite a bit. It's more decidedly prog rock based, while also suitably strange.
Blues For Twos
There is a driving sound and texture built into this number. It's another with a lot of percussive sound.
Burn 3
Driving and fun, there is a jazz meets classical kind of vibe to the piece. I love the energy and groove to it.
Malice Timba
Dramatic and symphonic this is another that is decidedly progressive rock based.
Again we get the bouncy and playful side.
Cod Rack
Twisted weirdness is on the menu here.
Little Thoughts
More song-like, this has some cool moody electronic prog edges to it.
Trail Mix
At nearly two minutes of music, this is one of the longest pieces on this second disc. It comes in with a percussion element and grows outward as it continues.
Bouncy and trippy, this is a fun cut.
Laughin Waters
Dramatic, bombastic and driving, this is progressive rock through and through. At over two-minutes long, it's another of the longer pieces here.
There are world music elements at play here. The cut has a twisted, detuned sort of edge to it.
Uncomfort (2)
Using the same musical themes, this has a less tweaked approach and a more whistling angle.
Warm Pallet
A melodic and quite classical piece, this has some intriguing synthesizer angles over piano.
Energetic and playful, for some reason this reminds me of some of the music to the movie "Re-Animator."
Weep No More
Here we get a mellower, classical music based piece.
Black Forest
This bouncy keyboard driven piece is interesting.
Another electronic piece, this is entertaining.
Robber Baron
I dig the cool synthesizer groove of this cut.
There is a high-pitched whistling texture to this number.
A bouncing kind of vibe drives this playful piece. I love some of the classically tinged melodic things that come over the top of the arrangement.
Piano and whistling are the driving elements here.
Another that feels rather playful, this works well.
Percussive and yet rather trippy, the layers over the top create some cool sounds.
I dig the classical elements on this quite a bit. The tune has a driving kind of rocking groove at its core.
Dunlap #2
I find the mysterious weirdness of this tune to be compelling.
Starting percussive, this turns more melodic further down the road.
Big Jumble A
There is lot of percussive concept here. The track drives with style and power.
Gingerbread Man (The Complete Instrumental)
Here we get an instrumental version of the entire album proper. You can probably figure that out from the title and parenthetical, though, right/ This is, of course, the longest track on the second disc. This works well in this format. There is a very classical feeling to it in this format.
Disc Three
The Hunters
Hunters Prelude
There is a cool world music meets classical kind of vibe to this number.
The Deadly Game
There is a processional sort of vibe to this cut. The track grows gradually and has a decidedly progressive rock based element at play. A drop back to electronics is dramatic and powerful. The cut works through quite a few shifts and changes, and it works well.
Tooth and Claw
More of a driving rock sound is on the menu here. This is dramatic and powerful with symphonic classical prog in the mix. There is a percussive break. It has some cool tuned percussion at its heart.
The Dangerous Sea
Energized, driving and percussive, this is a dramatic and quite classically inspired piece of music. I like it a lot.
Rulers of the Deep
Electronic textures that mimic chorale ones are at the heart of this dramatic and neo-classical piece of music. This feels like something that would fit well in the soundtrack to a movie. More driving textures, still electronic and symphonic, are on hand here. There is a mellower movement near the end that brings more of a sense of trippy mystery to it.
Track Of The Cat
Percussion brings this into being. Tuned percussion, electronic weirdness and more is on the menu within the realms of this piece. It's quite symphonic in nature, but also suitably weird.
The Giant Grizzlies
Another with a lot of tuned percussion in the mix, there is a real Asian feel to quite a bit of this. This is mellow and trippy as it shifts away from the percussive portion of the piece.
Dawn Of The Dragons
This has more of a driving, electronic prog rock vibe to it. There is a bit of a tweaked Residents edge to the piece. This is dramatic and powerful.
Eye Of The Serpent
Another that is very dramatic, this is symphonic, cinematic and powerful. There is definitely a soundtrack like vibe to the composition. This gets really spacey and strange.
The Crawling Kingdom
This is another freaky cut with a lot of electronic textures. It gets more dramatic, driving and symphonic further down the road.
The Savage Pack
More electronic meets symphonic sound is on the menu here. There is a section later in the track that seems to have symphonic instrumentation over the top of percussive elements. It gets more dramatic as the arrangement fills out. I love the more purely symphonic movement further down the road.
Hunters Reprise
Dreamy and pretty ambient textures are at the heart of this as it gets going. This is short.
Prelude to "The Teds"

In a break from the last disc and the songs on this one that preceded this number, there are vocals here. This is more of a standard Residents kind of rocking groove. It's driving, tasty and suitably strange.

I Tried To Cry
There is a bouncing keyboard groove on this number. The tune is trademark Residents. I love the symphonic prog overlayers on the song.
The Cry Of A Crow
Driving, rocking Residents music is on the menu here. There is a particularly busy percussive element to this. The tune works well.
Another with a lot of rocking sound in the mix, this is again set in a classic Residents styled soundscape.
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