Though much of its contents were officially released over a number of years and across various compilation albums, the full tape had never been officially released by the group until its release as a pREServed limited vinyl edition on Record Store Day 2019.
Consisting of various studio recordings and excerpts from the group's open mic performance at The Boarding House in San Francisco in 1971, Baby Sex marks the first recorded appearance of the group's collaborators, guitarist/violinist Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman, and The Mysterious N. Senada, an eccentric Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist who had appeared suddenly on the group's doorstep in 1970.
Developing the band's predilection for subverting popular music, Baby Sex includes parodies of Tim Buckley ("We Stole This Riff" is derived from "Down By The Borderline" from the 1970 album Starsailor) and Led Zeppelin ("Holelottadick"), and also a cover of "King Kong" by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention featuring Snakefinger on guitar.
The group also perform a composition by their mentor Senada, "Cantaten to der Dyin Prunen". An excerpt of "Cantaten to der Dyin Prunen" would first see release on the UWEB Snakefinger tribute, Philip Charles Lithman a.k.a. Snakefinger, and the group created an "orchestral remix" of the track in 1988 which still has not seen official release (thought by Hardy Fox to be lost to time). It is also referenced in "You Yesyesyes" from Fingerprince.
The Mysterious N. Senada himself appears on "Kamakazi Lady"; a performance of this piece (as well as "Eloise") would later be filmed for inclusion in the group's unfinished film project Vileness Fats. "Eloise" was also re-recorded in 1984 for Whatever Happened To Vileness Fats?, and again in 2001 for Icky Flix. These two tracks also feature on the set lists of most of the early performances of the group between 1971 and 1976, as they provided the group an easily-performed distraction when members of the band were experiencing technical difficulties.
"The Fourth Crucifixion" contains an excerpt from a radio interview with Snakefinger and N. Senada. The interview was also included in the UWEB compilation, Daydream B-Liver. A different piece with the same title can be heard on the group's previous demo tape The Warner Bros. Album.
"For Doorknob" features night-club singer Peggy Honeydew. This track was performed at the group's Boarding House performance earlier in 1971, but a different performance (possibly recorded at home) features on Baby Sex as part of the closing collage experiment "Hallowed Be Thy Wean 1971".
"King Kong" and "Kamakazi Lady" would be the first two excerpts from the group's early tapes to see official release, first in 1977 on the group's promotional "radio special", and then ("Kamakazi Lady" only) in 1983 on the Residue of The Residents.
Cover art Edit
Baby Sex is notorious for the unprintable cover art which accompanied the original demo, depicting a grown woman performing fellatio on a baby. The group would later claim that the use of this low-resolution image (blown up from an advertisement for a Danish porn magazine which the group had received unsolicited in the mail) was modelled after the cover art of the then-recently released album Randy Newman Live, which featured a similarly low-fidelity image of Newman on its front cover - the track listing included with the tape also mirrors the design of the back cover of this album.
The disturbing graphic would also later be printed on a very limited run of t-shirts - rarely seen, for obvious reasons, though some remain in the hands of collectors. The tape's title track consists of a dramatic reading of a puerile story seemingly inspired by the image, set to a light organ musical backing.
Like The Warner Bros. Album before it, Baby Sex was submitted after its completion to Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt, who had inadvertently inspired what would soon be the group's official name, when he returned The Warner Bros. Album to the anonymous group addressed to "Residents".
Halverstadt's written response to this demo (and the newly renamed Residents Uninc.) reads: "I hate to tell you this, but Baby Sex did not (repeat, did not) set Burbank on its ear, even though the tape was widely circulated through the stuccoed halls of good old WB. As to the art, one of the girls here who still wears hot pants had the audacity to infer that you guys are sickos! So keep the good work coming. There are enough heavy breathers here in Burbank to make it worth the postage."
The Warner Bros. Album and Baby Sex tapes were both broadcast to the public in their entirety by Bill Reinhardt on KBOO-FM radio in Portland, Oregon, during a Residents-themed radio festival in 1977. Most versions of these two tapes that are available are home recordings of this broadcast, although higher quality copies from an earlier generation copy have recently become available in a limited series of bootleg CD-Rs.
It has been rumored that these seemingly earlier generation versions were copied directly from tapes which were stolen from The Cryptic Corporation archives by a former associate and later made available for profit. As with their other early recordings, The Residents and The Cryptic Corporation long did not consider Baby Sex to be part of its official discography, and were displeased by the availability of their early recordings as bootlegs.
Despite this, excerpts from Baby Sex later became officially available via the Residue of the Residents, Daydream B-Liver, ERA B474 and The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss compilations. By 2016, the majority of the tape had been released piecemeal through various compilation albums (apart from the first three tracks and the complete original edits of "Cantaten To Der Dyin Prunen" and "Hallowed By Thy Wean").Record Store Day release and part of the group's expansive pREServed reissue campaign, following the 2018 limited edition release of The W***** B*** Album.
The group claim in the March 2019 announcement of the tape's release that they had completely forgotten about its existence, "until the master tape fell from a shelf in the archive onto the singing Resident’s head. As a consequence, he now has no memory of the recording, but we thought you might like to hear it anyway".
Track listing Edit
Original track listing (1971)
- We Stole This Riff (Buckley) (1:58)
- Holelottadick (Bonham/Dixon/Jones/Page/Plant) (1:37)
- Baby Sex (1:49)
- Deepsea Diver Song (4:13)
- King Kong (Zappa) (3:27)
- Cantaten to der Dyin Prunen (Senada) (6:14)
- Somethin' Devilish (4:33)
- The Fourth Crucifixion (4:06)
- Hallowed Be Thy Wean 1971 (14:35)
pREServed edition track listing (2019)
The pREServed limited vinyl edition released on Record Store Day 2019 includes The Residents' preferred second mix of B.S., which was completed in December 1971 and submitted to Hal Halverstadt of Warner Bros. Records.
- We Stole This Riff (Buckley)
- Holelottadick (Bonham/Dixon/Jones/Page/Plant)
- Deepsea Diver Song
- King Kong (Zappa)
- Cantaten To Der Dyin Prunen (Senada)
- Intro Tape / Somethin' Devilish
- N. Senada Tribute
- The Fourth Crucifixion
- James Dean's Death
- Very Long Suite
Liner notes Edit
This album was recorded by the loose collective of creatives, post-hippies, dreamers and friends who later became known as The Residents between August and November 1971. It was compiled into two vinyl-ready, side-long suites in December that year, and a tape was sent immediately to the group’s only known supporter in the music industry at that time, Hal Halverstadt at Warner Bros Records Inc. But alas, despite being packaged in artwork modelled on a Randy Newman live album recently issued by the label, Hal and co passed again, and superstardom and their wildest dreams continued to elude everybody involved.
Ever eager to move forwards, the group discarded the tapes and forgot all about their contents. And so they lay neglected in a San Francisco basement for over forty-five years (the tapes, not the group) until recent archival excavations by The Residents produced two dusty reels. Having listened and pondered, several members of the group deny having been involved in the recording of this material at all, whilst others insist they couldn’t have played it so well even if they’d wanted to. They were, however, all in agreement that the tapes’ existence could not be denied, and that it might be interesting to release this music at last, if only to see if anybody else out there could recall recording it. Suggestions and enquiries to the usual addresses please.
Nb: Of note is that two mixes of this entire recording exists, The Residents preferring (and sending to Hal) mix #2, completed in December 18th 1971.
See also Edit
- The Delta Nudes
- The Boarding House
- Rusty Coathangers For The Doctor
- The Warner Bros. Album
- Santa Dog
- Vileness Fats
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 http://alienatedinvancouver.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-residents-return-to-vancouver-homer.html
- ↑ The Residents mailing list newsletter, October 22, 2018