Although I suppose it’s better than being haunted by something by Cher, Kylie or Justin Bieber, I have to admit that I’m getting really sick of hearing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” wherever I turn. In restaurants. At supermarkets. The gas station. At Trader Joe’s. The airport. At red lights being pumped out of someone else’s car… You can’t escape. I know those new Led Zeppelin remasters are out, but it’s not like this song was exactly scarce before that!
Yikes, I need some mental floss… wait, I know…
Long before they covered The Beatles, Cannibal & the Headhunters, James Brown, Elvis, George Gershwin or Hank Williams, in 1971, the Residents rudely took on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” (rechristened “Holelottadick” and letting the intention of Robert Plant’s lyrics really hang out there) on their unreleased (but widely bootlegged) Baby Sex album.
Baby Sex was once broadcast in its entirety on Oregon radio station KBOO-FM during their “Residents Radio Festival” in 1977. The album’s second side is an astonishing studio collage piece titled “Hallowed Be Thy Wean” which includes a live recording of The Residents at San Francisco’s Boarding House in October 1971 with Snakefinger, the first time that “The Residents” moniker was employed by the group.
Baby Sex also features a ripping cover of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong,” that could almost be the Mothers of Invention themselves playing. The Residents’ direct musical and sonic debt to Zappa (and Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict,” for that matter, “sampled” at length in “Hallowed…”) becomes much more obvious after you’ve given Baby Sex a listen. (Original Mother Don Preston would later collaborate with The Residents on their epic Eskimo album).
Elsewhere on the album, the cryptic ones “steal this riff” from Tim Buckley’s “Down By The Borderline” (from Buckley’s Starsailor album, which was probably not so coincidentally released by Zappa’s Straight Records) and manage to sound like a geeky version of Santana!
The Residents live at The Boarding House in San Francisco, October, 1971