God in Three Persons(1988)
God in 3 Persons was The Residents' first recording project which was designed from the beginning for CD. An LP album has to have a natural break in the middle of the music, with a strong beginning and ending for each side. CDs, which play straight through from beginning to end without a break, allow for a different organizational form, since works are only limited by the 74-minute total playing time.
God in 3 Persons was also the last album that the band recorded using tape, the final project edited with razors and splicing tape. God in 3 Persons was also the first album the band did which was not published by Ralph Records; instead, it was released by RykoDisc.
The band also had a new sound -- clean and crisp, playing their instruments with precise professionalism. The sung and spoken words were enunciated quite clearly and the audience was expected to follow the text. This was necessary as the story is being told to the audience, rather than shown or implied as with previous works.
God in 3 Persons is the story of a Colonel Parker-type character called "Mr. X", who finds a pair of Siamese twins who have miraculous healing powers. He convinces them to let him manage their careers, touring them as holy healers and conducting services during which they cure the masses. Mr. X starts to lust after the "female" twin, then realizes that the twins' sexes are fluid rather than fixed. When he discovers that the twins are far more worldly than he had believed, and therefore less under his control, he plots a vicious rape in which he severs the connection between the two, splitting them forever. In the end he realizes that his feelings for the twins were not being imposed on him by the twins, but came from within himself.
The story is narrated in the first person by Mr. X. He is accompanied throughout by instrumental music and sung commentary by Laurie Amat, who acts as a "Greek Chorus" (and sings the opening credits on the first track).
Among the recurring melodies making up the music are The Swinging Medalions' song Double Shot (which also appeared on The Third Reich 'N' Roll) and the well-known hymn Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber (1735-1826) and John Baccus Dykes (1823-1876). The lyrics Holy, Holy, Holy also provided the album's title.
This project was conceived of as "potato chips" -- meant to come out in a variety of flavors. Four versions were created: the album, a soundtrack version without the narration, and two singles, all of which were to be released about a month apart, each giving a different perspective on the music. It turned out, however, that demand for the various versions wasn't high. The European label refused to print anything except the original, though they eventually relented and pressed the soundtrack album as well.
Shortly before the time came for Snakefinger to add his guitar parts to the album, The Residents learned that their long-time friend and collaborator had died of a heart attack while touring in Europe. The news hit them hard -- Snakefinger had been working with the band since the beginning and had contributed his guitar work to many of their albums.