The Residents – One Minute Movies
Revisiting a wonderful and influential moment from ‘North Louisiana’s Phenomenal Pop Combo‘ The Residents:
“Perfect Love” – both the video and song – really are quite perfect.
More immediately influential are the “one-minute movies” the Residents made for songs from 1980’s Commercial Album. These illustrative clips were among the first to show how the music video could be its own form– not just a song or a movie or an ad, but something in between. That point was made all the more profound by the album, which includes a set of 40 one-minute songs that sound like concentrated extracts of larger tunes (liner notes actually suggest that each track should be played three times in a row to form a full pop song). They sound like jingles– and to further point out the blurry lines between art and advertising, the Residents bought 40 one-minute spots on a San Francisco Top 40 station, airing the entire album over a three-day period.
When I actually lived in North Louisiana there was a bit of Residents lore floating about (if you spoke to the right people) … that there were two core members from Shreveport, and that one had a rich stepfather who, frustrated and at odds with his increasingly weird stepson, gave him a bunch of money to move to San Francisco and buy recording gear. Or probably not. It’s sort of amazing that we still don’t really know their story.
The band have strived to keep their identities a secret, employing all manner of conceptual subterfuge and sleight of hand to misdirect attention away from any singular version of the truth. When discussing conceptual art in the realm of pop music, people always talk about the KLF, but it’s worth pointing out that Bill Drummond would have been a young man of 21 when Meet The Residents was released.