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In Wormwood: a collection of curious Bible stories, The Residents explore the dark side of the Christian Holy Book with songs based on twenty of its most disturbing tales.

In the press release which announced the release of the album, The Residents explain that they are not interested in criticizing or attacking the Bible, but rather in reminding listeners that it is not all Love Thy Neighbor and uplifting morality. It is important to remember, when zealous, self-appointed arbiters of morality use the Bible to attack those they disapprove of on moral grounds that they are using a book which features tales of human sacrifice, incest, mass murder, torture, and various other anti-social activities.

Most of the songs are from the Old Testament, with its short-tempered and vindictive (god) visiting all sorts of unpleasantness on the Israelites and their neighbors. Three tracks, How to Get a Head, Judas Saves and Revelation, are from the New Testament.

Judas Saves explores a Biblical issue which I've often been interested in: the fact that without Judas Iscariot turning Jesus over to the Romans in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would not have died on the cross and mankind would not have been saved. Judas's betrayal was ordained -- and required -- by God's plan, and his reward for having had to perform the greatest act of betrayal in the Christian mythos is the greatest punishment: according to Dante's Inferno (Canto 34), Judas has spent the past two thousand years being chewed on by Lucifer in the center of the lowest circle of Hell, the home of the sinners who were Treacherous to Their Masters, Judecca (which was also named for Judas).

Wormwood Live(1998)

In October, 1998, Wormwood became the subject of The Residents' second series of Halloween concerts at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Most of the album was performed (the songs Spilling the Seed and The Seven Ugly Cows were left out) in a highly successful live production. This live show was expanded with extra songs and new arrangements into a successful tour in 1999.


On July 7th, 1999, The Residents entered the SFB Sendessal studio in Berlin with the idea of documenting arrangements the band have been playing on their Wormwood tour. The ambitious tour had started the previous April and was headed into its final two weeks. Though the shows had been recorded, the group felt that removing the demands of performance and the associated masks and costumes would allow for a better musical focus.

The songs were played in real time by the ensemble. Most were captured in one take to digital 24 track tape. In February and March of 2000, the tape was mixed, edited, and overdubbed by The Residents.