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Meet The Residents is the first studio album by The Residents, released on the group's newly-founded independent record label Ralph Records on April 1st 1974.

Produced in adherence with the "Theory of Phonetic Organization", devised by the mysterious Bavarian avant-garde composer N. SenadaMeet The Residents was Ralph Records' second release (after the Santa Dog EP in 1972).

History

The group known (then) as Residents, Uninc. had been recording actively and producing tapes since the late 1960s, as well as developing an ambitious film project, Vileness Fats, in their new studio space, El Ralpho, a former print-works on Sycamore St. in San Francisco.

Despite producing a number of demo tapes during this period (including The W***** B*** Album and B.S.), and a small number of public performances, the group's recordings had been private in nature until the 1972 release of their debut EP, Santa Dog - pressed in a limited edition and sent in the mail as a "Christmas card" to selected recipients.

The recordings which would eventually comprise Meet The Residents were not originally intended to become the group's debut studio album, but instead originated from a series of loose improvisational sessions regularly held by the group with various friends on Tuesdays between February and October 1973, as well as hours of further experimental and improvisational recordings made during breaks in production of Vileness Fats.

Meet The Residents was then assembled by the group from the best of these sessions, in accordance with the Theory of Phonetic Organization, conceived by the obscure Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist N. Senada. Senada had appeared suddenly on the group's doorstep a couple of years prior, and had since assumed a mentor-like role with the group, appearing with them at their public performances and on their early recordings.

The group's friend Pamela Zeibak (who had also appeared in Vileness Fats) provided her signature operatic vocals on "Spotted Pinto Bean". She was later quoted as saying that since she was also working with a group at university who wrote "new music", she was very open to The Residents' experimental recordings.

Cover art

The Residents wanted to release their first album with a provocative album cover design, to attract attention and invite purchases in record stores. As such, the album art, by Homer Flynn's Porno Graphics, defaces the front cover of Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles' second US album release. The back cover features another defaced image of The Beatles, with their heads replaced with crawfish and starfish (under which the "members of the group" are named: Paul McCrawfish, John Crawfish, George Crawfish and Ringo Starfish).

The Cryptic Corporation claimed that EMI and Capitol Records complained about the original cover art design and threatened to sue, however it has often been said that at least one of The Beatles (variously John Lennon, George Harrison or Ringo Starr) loved the cover and had it displayed in his office.

In 2018, former Ralph Records employee (and later, owner) Tom Timony explained that the decision to change the cover art design for the 1977 stereo reissue was born more out of a desire to generate publicity rather than any actual complaints received from Apple, EMI or Capitol Records - as there was no Internet at the time, there was no simple way for fans to substantiate Cryptic's claims of legal threats received from these companies.[1]

Release

Meet The Residents was the first release to officially credit the group simply as The Residents - their only prior official release, the 1972 Santa Dog double 7" EP, was credited to a variety of different pseudonyms (including "Residents, Uninc." and "The Delta Nudes"). The group had financed the pressing of 1000 copies of the album, for release on their own Ralph Records imprint.

At this point in time, Ralph had no means of nationwide distribution or even getting their releases accepted for sale in record shops in California. The Residents also had no interest in promoting the album through live performances or touring, the usual way a band would generate interest from the public and press.

With some prodding from friends (including the art collective Ant Farm),[2] The Residents instead chose more unique ways to market the release of Meet The Residents, producing a six minute abbreviated edit which was then pressed onto 4000 8" flexidiscs. These "samplers" were given away for free in Canadian art publication File Magazine, and Bay Area student publication Friday. This backfired, as most of the readers of both magazines assumed, due to the defaced Beatles album art, that the disc was a joke.

Eventually, Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley, California took a few copies. The group were so excited by this that they went down to the store to take a photograph of a copy prominently displayed in the racks. The album also gained some airplay from Portland disc jockey William Reinhardt, who became a friend of the group. Reinhardt convinced Portland record store Music Millennium to order twenty copies, which "sat there for almost a year", eventually selling half of them, with a Resident attending the store personally to collect the check.[3]

Ultimately, and in spite of its arresting album art, Meet The Residents was not a success - The Residents estimate that aside from family and friends, only forty people bought the album of their own free will in the first year after its release.

Stereo remix

The "crawfish" Beatles

In 1976, The Residents' newly founded management company The Cryptic Corporation gained the original masters used to create the original monaural version of Meet The Residents from the group. Cryptic engineer Hardy Fox proceeded to "reprocess" the tracks, creating an entirely new stereo mix, and shortening the album by nearly seven minutes in total.

The stereo edition of Meet The Residents was released in 1977, but (ostensibly) due to EMI and Capitol Records' complaints about the album art, the reissue featured the "Crawfish/Starfish" graphic from the original release's back cover on the front, and a smaller black and white print of the original cover art on the back, alongside the album's liner notes.

Subsequent re-releases of the album have alternated between the stereo remix and a slightly remixed version of the original mono edition (with shorter/alternate fades between some tracks, such as "Smelly Tongues"). The first CD pressing was the first edition to use this alternate mono mix, but subsequent CD editions have reverted to the stereo version.

The 1988 ESD/Torso "Classic Series" CD edition of Meet The Residents also included the Santa Dog EP. The 2018 pREServed edition includes new remasters of both the original mono version (albeit mastered at a slightly different speed than the original pressing) and the 1977 stereo remix, Santa Dog, as well as numerous previously unheard outtakes from the Meet The Residents sessions.

Legacy

Although Meet The Residents was largely ignored at the time of its release, it has since garnered critical acclaim. David Cleary of AllMusic gave the album 4 stars, calling The Residents "true avant-garde crazies...[their] work of this time really sounds like nothing else that exists." 

Nils Bernstein of eMusic also gave the album 4 stars, saying its "brilliance lies in collaging less avant-garde elements like vaudeville, early rock ‘n’ roll, world music and snippets of pop culture in "songs" that were as disorienting as the barrage of media and consumerism they subtly critiqued – the medium is the message, indeed." 

In a positive review, Julian Cope said of the album "just as DJ's would play the best minute and a half or so the latest garage, soul or pop hits before fading it out into another great single before the listener gets bored, The Residents weld together a collage of the most annoyingly catchy riffs and tunes leaving the listener initially confused and later hooked."

Track listing

All tracks composed by The Residents unless otherwise noted.

Original mono version (1974)

Side A (22:58)

  1. Boots (Hazelwood) (1:30)
  2. Numb Erone (1:23)
  3. Guylum Bardot (1:22)
  4. Breath and Length (1:45)
  5. Consuelo's Departure (1:55)
  6. Smelly Tongues (1:35)
  7. Rest Aria (5:07)
  8. Skratz (1:44)
  9. Spotted Pinto Bean (6:37)

Side B (21:19)

  1. Infant Tango (6:01)
  2. Seasoned Greetings (5:12)
  3. N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (10:06)


Edited stereo remix (1977)

Side A (20:06)

  1. Boots (Hazelwood) (0:54)
  2. Numb Erone (1:07)
  3. Guylum Bardot (1:19)
  4. Breath and Length (1:44)
  5. Consuelo's Departure (0:59)
  6. Smelly Tongues (1:44)
  7. Rest Aria (5:09)
  8. Skratz (1:43)
  9. Spotted Pinto Bean (5:27)

Side B (17:57)

  1. Infant Tango (5:28)
  2. Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
  3. N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (7:16)


"Classic Series" CD reissue (1988)

  1. Boots (Hazelwood) (1:39)
  2. Numb Erone (1:06)
  3. Guylum Bardot (1:20)
  4. Breath and Length (1:45)
  5. Consuelo's Departure (1:55)
  6. Smelly Tongues (1:35)
  7. Rest Aria (5:41)
  8. Skratz (1:18)
  9. Spotted Pinto Bean (6:37)
  10. Infant Tango (6:01)
  11. Seasoned Greetings (5:12)
  12. N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (9:41)
  13. Fire (1:45)
  14. Lightning (2:18)
  15. Explosion (3:20)
  16. Aircraft Damage (3:53)


Credits

Original release (1974)

Stereo remix (1977)

pREServed edition (2018)

Meet The Residents pREServed postcard

Meet The Residents was the first album released as part of The Residents' pREServed series of remastered and expanded reissues, alongside The Third Reich 'n Roll in January 2018. A limited number of early copies were shipped with a bonus postcard featuring the original "First One Is Free!" promotional flyer art.

The pREServed edition of Meet The Residents includes both the mono and stereo versions of the album, as well as Santa Dog, and a number of previously unheard outtakes from the same time period, including early versions of tracks later featured on the finished album, excerpts from the previously unheard demo 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) (later released in full in on the Record Store Day vinyl compilation Warning: Uninc. in 2022) and selections from the group's Tuesday jam session tapes.

It also features what may be old instrumentals with newly recorded vocals from the Singing Resident ("Spotted Pinto Queen" and "Poisoned Popcorn"), as well as tracks which appear to originate from an aborted attempt to produce a new version of the album circa 2013 ("Boots Again").

Track listing

(*) indicates tracks which are previously unreleased.

All tracks composed by The Residents unless otherwise noted.

Disc 1

Meet The Residents 1974 mono mix + Santa Dog EP + outtakes and ephemera

  1. Boots (Hazelwood) (1:26)
  2. Numb Erone (1:21)
  3. Guylum Bardot (1:23)
  4. Breath and Length (1:45)
  5. Consuelo's Departure (1:47)
  6. Smelly Tongues (1:51)
  7. Rest Aria (5:29)
  8. Skratz (1:49)
  9. Spotted Pinto Bean (6:46)
  10. Infant Tango (6:06)
  11. Seasoned Greetings (5:13)
  12. N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (10:20)
  13. Fire (1:47)
  14. Explosion (3:22)
  15. Lightning (2:21)
  16. Aircraft Damage (3:57)
  17. Tuesday #1 / Guylum Bardot Version (2:25) (*)
  18. Boots Again (Hazelwood) (2:03) (*)
  19. Numb Erone / Inka (2:54) (*)
  20. Tuesday #2 / Smelly Tongues Version (2:07) (*)
  21. Consuela's Return (2:23) (*)
  22. Breadth and Length Version (2:04) (*)
  23. Numb Erone 'Live' (2:19) (*)
  24. Spotted Pinto Bean / Tuesday #5 (1:59) (*)
  25. 7733 Variations (1:18) (*)

Disc 2

Meet The Residents 1977 stereo mix + outtakes and ephemera

  1. Boots (Hazelwood) (0:50)
  2. Numb Erone (1:08)
  3. Guylum Bardot (1:20)
  4. Breath and Length (1:41)
  5. Consuelo's Departure (0:58)
  6. Smelly Tongues (1:45)
  7. Rest Aria (5:14)
  8. Skratz (1:42)
  9. Spotted Pinto Bean (5:31)
  10. Infant Tango (5:26)
  11. Seasoned Greetings (5:06)
  12. N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues) (7:49)
  13. Overlay At High Speed (0:43) (*)
  14. Spotted Pinto Queen (2:59) (*)
  15. Inka Don't Dry (3:08) (*)
  16. Tuesday #3 (1:04) (*)
  17. Quick Brain Tuesday (0:45) (*)
  18. Poisoned Popcorn (2:45) (*)
  19. N-Er-Gee Crisis Outro (0:55) (*)
  20. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 1 (5:09) (*)
  21. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 4 (4:00) (*)
  22. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 5 (1:37) (*)
  23. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 6 (3:29) (*)
  24. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 7 (1:53) (*)
  25. 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) Pt. 8 (2:33) (*)


Liner notes

Original pressing

The Residents began collecting interesting and unusual tapes in the early 60's in an effort to expand their awareness of the very nature of sound. The tapes came from everywhere... cassettes of soldiers in Vietnam singing songs with impromptu instrumentation... reels from second hand shops... sounds effects and bird call collections from garage sales... and, yes, even a few bootleg tapes of well known pop artists going avant-garde between takes which were purchased on the black market and stored in a local bank vault.

The Residents not only collected other peoples tapes, but gained widespread notoriety for their unusual recordings. The underground network carried their reputation across the oceans where it finally hit the ears of the then unknown Englishman, "Snakefinger" Lithman. Packing a few clothes, he flew directly to San Mateo, California where the Residents then had their sound studios, in hopes of studying tapes of early Cajun music the Residents were alleged to have recorded while in college in Louisiana. Snakefinger had also brought an acquaintance that he had met in the woods of Bavaria while on an expedition there for Britain. That friend was none other than The Mysterious N. Senada who had developed a complex musical system based upon phonetics.

For six months Snakefinger, N. Senada (who spoke very little English), and The Residents worked together recording and listening to tapes. A few lucky people were even able to catch impromptu performances by The Mysterious N. Senada and Snakefinger at several of San Francisco's folk and jazz clubs.

The Residents negotiated with Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt over the rights to the Snakefinger/N. Senada/Residents tapes, but Warner Bros. hit by a slump in record sales, decided the audience appeal was too limited and at the last minute withdrew their offer.

Snakefinger returned to England to become a rock and roll star, and The Mysterious N. Senada, well he just disappeared one day. The Residents have ventured to guess that he has probably gone to the arctic regions. He believes some musical link is hidden among the Eskimos of the frozen north.

The music on this album is not that of Snakefinger or of The Mysterious N. Senada. The Residents have taken the basic ideas of the phonetic organization but have applied the theories to a more Western style of music. The translation does not always hold intact, though there is more than enough example of this staggering new music style.

The instruments used on this record have been tuned to approximate Western culture harmonies and artistic freedom is assumed for the right to substitute normal instruments where necessary.

Listen closely to the record. Let the strangeness wear off through a couple of plays. Soon you too will whistle the merry tunes and wonder along with The Residents who that old man N. Senada really was.

1977 reissue

Meet The Residents was originally released in 1974, on the Ralph Records label. The tapes were monaural recordings on home equipment and suffered further fidelity loss in the mastering and pressing stages. In 1976, The Cryptic Corporation came into legal possession of The Residents' recordings, and began working on how to restore these original tapes to studio quality. Using the master tape as a directive, the album was disassembled, reprocessed, and reconstructed into this true stereophonic version. No re-recording was employed. The artists who appear on this recording have personally approved this as an authorized realization of the original LP.

2018 pREServed edition

Both the original 1974 mono master and the 1977 stereo master have been excavated from The Residents' archives and remastered from the original tapes for this release. Embrace, enjoy and meet The Residents all over again. Possibly as you've never heard them before (offer subject to playback equipment, listener mood and extraneous atmospherics).


"On Meet The Residents" by Harvey Sox

Recently a new phenomenon has erupted in the recording industry. Record consumption has reached a high enough level to support the creation of private labels dedicated to material considered non-commercial by large corporate structures. Certainly one of the most interesting albums to emerge on a nationwide underground scale is Ralph Records' first release, Meet The Residents.

The cover takes a biting slap at the Beatles, with the original Capitol Records' Meet The Beatles jacket exactly reproduced with appropriate tongue-in-cheek changes like fangs, crossed eyes, drooling tongue, etc. Capitol Records, alerted to the possible breach of copyright, has threatened to "take action" if Ralph Records should press a second edition of Meet The Residents.

The parodies, however, are not simply confined to some type of humorous duplication. Illustrations seem the best way to explain their unusual characteristics. One cut aptly named "Infant Tango" (no doubt a pun on the notorious disease) is a shuck & jive soul number featuring Chinese instrumentation (properly wah-wahed) and electronically altered jazz saxophone. Does that explain it? Well, how about "Spotted Pinto Bean"? I would say Sun Ra with opera and honky-tonk after-hours piano during a thunderstorm backed by a Motown horn section. Is that any clearer? Maybe you have to hear it to understand.

Many listeners have compared Meet The Residents to some of the strange European releases which have recently been filtering more and more into the American music scene. However, The Residents are so totally American in the sources from which they draw, that the result is more pop-artish than, say, the heavy handed Germans or cutesie English. I mean, who else even thought to wonder how Stockhausen would do "These Boots Are Made For Walking"?

The Residents' Meet The Residents is not everyone's cup of tea. In fact, for most it is more a cup of bitters, but for that small minority for whom this record was made, it must be near heaven.


Release history

Year Label Format Region Note
1974 Ralph Records LP US Mono version
1977 Stereo version, alternate cover art
1979
1985 Stereo version, 13th Anniversary picture disc
1988 Mono version
East Side Digital CD "Classic Series" edition, mono version
Torso NL "Classic Series" edition, mono version
LP Mono version
1990 T.E.C. Tones Cass US
1997 East Side Digital CD Stereo version
Bomba Records JPN
1998 Euro Ralph EU
2003 LP Mono version
2005 CD RUS Stereo version
2009 Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings JPN Mono version
2011 MVD Audio US
Ralph Records & MVD Audio LP
2018 New Ralph Too, MVD Audio & Cherry Red CD EU & US 2xCD pREServed edition, mono and stereo versions
2021 Modern Harmonic LP USA Mono version, green vinyl

Quotes on the Subject

At the time, it was a naïve thing to do when they started. But the group was important, and they wanted one image for the group. They didn't want four faces for the group. They wanted one image that would represent the group. [...] It's removing that personal identity and emphasizing the music and the music's oneness, not that it's made up of four different people, but that it's just the music.

- Hardy Fox, JJJ Interview, 1982

See also

Buy Or Die!

Listen online

External links and references

  1. Tom Timony, The Vinyl Guide Episode 137, September 10th 2018
  2. Matt Groening, "The True Story of The Residents", 1979
  3. Ian Shirley, "The Dawn Of Residentkind...", Meet The Residents pREServed edition liner notes, 2018


Rz-mtr-transparent-sml.png Meet The Residents
(1974)

Side A
"Boots" · "Numb Erone" · "Guylum Bardot" · "Breath and Length" · "Consuelo's Departure" · "Smelly Tongues" · "Rest Aria" · "Skratz" · "Spotted Pinto Bean"

Side B
"Infant Tango" · "Seasoned Greetings" · "N-ER-GEE (Crisis Blues)"

Personnel
The Residents · Ruth Essex · Barry "Wool" Eiland · Pamela Zeibak · Philip Friehofner · Jim Whitaker · Bob Tangney · James Aaron

Related works
"Russian Love Song" · 1-10 (With A Touch of 11) · "7733 Variations" · Tuesday tapes ("Sokurha") · "Overlay At High Speed" · "Inka Don't Dry" · Meet The Residents Sampler · "Saint Nix" · Clank Clank Clank · "Poisoned Popcorn"

Related articles
N. Senada (Theory of Phonetic Organization) · Residents, Uninc. · Sycamore St. studio · Santa Dog · Ralph Records · Porno/Graphics · Vileness Fats · "Nobody But Me" · The Beatles

Nsenada-mintgreen-transparent.png The Mysterious N. Senada
(1907 - 1993)
Wbrmx-sml-transparent.png The Delta Nudes / Residents, Uninc.
(1967 - 1974)
Mtrlabel-transparent-sml.png The Residents studio albums

Ralph Records (1972 - 1987)
Meet The Residents (1974) · The Third Reich 'n Roll (1976) · Fingerprince (1977) · Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen (1978)
Not Available (1978) · Eskimo (1979) · Commercial Album (1980) · Mark of the Mole (1981)
The Tunes of Two Cities (1982) · George & James (1984) · The Big Bubble (1985) · Stars & Hank Forever! (1986)

Ryko and Enigma (1988 - 1989)
God In Three Persons (1988) · The King & Eye (1989)

East Side Digital (1990 - 2002)
Freak Show (1990) · Our Finest Flowers (1992) · Gingerbread Man (1994) · Have A Bad Day (1996)
Wormwood (1998) · Demons Dance Alone (2002)

Mute Records (2004 - 2007)
Animal Lover (2005) · Tweedles! (2006) · The Voice of Midnight (2007)

MVD Audio (2008 - 2015)
The Bunny Boy (2008) · Lonely Teenager (2011) · Mush-Room (2013)

MVD Audio and Cherry Red (2016 - present)
The Ghost of Hope (2017) · Intruders (2018) · Metal, Meat & Bone (2020)

Fan club / off-label albums
Buckaroo Blues (1989) · The 12 Days of Brumalia (2004) · Night of the Hunters (2007)
Hades (2009) · Dollar General (2010) · Night Train To Nowhere! (2012)

Soundtrack albums
Whatever Happened To Vileness Fats? (1984) · The Census Taker (1985) · Hunters (1995) · Icky Flix (2001)
I Murdered Mommy! (2004) · Postcards From Patmos (2008) · Strange Culture/Haeckel's Tale (2010)
Chuck's Ghost Music (2011) · Theory of Obscurity Soundtrack (2014) · Sculpt (2016) · Music to Eat Bricks By (2019)

Collaborative albums
Title In Limbo with Renaldo & The Loaf (1983) · I Am A Resident! with You? (2018)

Live in the studio
Assorted Secrets (1984) · Roadworms: The Berlin Sessions (2000) · Talking Light Live In Rehearsal, Santa Cruz, California (2010)
Mole Dance 82 (2021) · Duck Stab! Alive! (2021)

Related articles
The Residents discography (W.E.I.R.D., 1979) · Ralph Records discography

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