|This article is about the 1970 demo album.|
You may be looking for the song of the same name.
|PLEASE GO AWAY!
This recording was not intended for release. THEY HATE IT!!!
Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor is a demo tape compiled in July 1970 by the group who would later become known as The Residents. Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor is among the group's earliest surviving demo recordings, originating from the same sessions as their following demo tape, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger.
It is known that The Residents have "always hated" the tape, and for this reason have only released selected extracts from it, the first of which was a short excerpt of the title track which was heard in the documentary Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents in 2015.
A 22-minute "concentrate" edit of the tape is known to have been compiled by The Residents in 2019, but was ultimately shelved by the group as it "freaked them out" and they "never wanted to hear it again". Despite this, a shorter seven-and-a-half minute concentrate version was later issued on the limited edition vinyl-only compilation Leftovers Again?! in June 2021.
Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor was compiled in July 1970 by a loose collective of like-minded eccentrics (known retrospectively as The Delta Nudes), from hours of recordings made with the talented multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan, who had appeared at their San Mateo apartment in June with a U-Haul trailer full of musical instruments. By this time, the group had already begun to create a number of spontaneously composed and recorded songs, including "I Hear Ya Got Religion" and "Moonman" (both recorded the previous year).
The recordings were made on a two-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, which Hardy Fox had received around 1969 as a gift from a friend who had recently returned from Vietnam. This recorder was unusual for a consumer-level tape machine of its time, as it allowed the user to perform primitive overdubs by bouncing recordings between tracks.
The title track originated when Sheehan looked out the window of the second-floor apartment and saw "this old, dark green '52 or '53 model Chevrolet pickup[...] the bed of the pickup was packed full, over and above the height of the cab, with nothing but rusty coathangers." "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor" was spontaneously composed and recorded immediately thereafter, shortly followed by a song referred to by Sheehan as "When Roy Stuffed Trigger". In co-writing these two songs, the skilled guitarist Sheehan followed the group's instructions to avoid using his musical knowledge, creating his own chords in order to craft the melodies of the two songs.
Sheehan left the group at the end of the summer, after which they began compiling their many recordings into two roughly-edited demo reels, entitled Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger. The demos were compiled on consumer-grade 1/4 inch tape, recorded at a tape speed of 7½ inches per second.
The tapes were intended as "experiments, nothing more", which were not intended to be heard outside the group (or even by "anybody inside the group, if possible"). Despite this, former KBOO-FM disc jockey Bill Reinhardt, has publicly confirmed receiving a copy as a gift after making the acquaintance of The Residents in 1974.
A painting was created by a Resident to serve as cover art for the Rusty Coathangers tape box, however this artwork was later painted over and then given away. The demo, as it presently exists in the Cryptic Corporation archives, does not include any cover art or liner notes, and is identifiable only by a hand-written label noting the title and tape speed.
The tape's listing in the recording history featured in the 1979 W.E.I.R.D. fan club publication The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents describes it as "approx. 40 minutes of material on 1/4 inch reel tape @ 7 1/2 in.".
The version of the demo which circulates among fans is 31 minutes long, and features an abortive early example of the group performing "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones (here crossed with "When Johnny Comes Marching" - both are also heard on The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger) as well as traditional music ("Bringing In The Sheaves"), early tape collage experiments, and two notable but obscure Delta Nudes originals, the title track (which is reprised near the end of the tape) and "Bo Diddley".
As it was never intended for release and has no surviving cover art or liner notes, Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor does not have an official, definitive track listing.
The tape's entry in The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents recording history lists only two tracks, "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor", and "Bo Diddley", with the notes explaining only that "song titles for remainder of music cannot be documented". The entry for The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger lists "Bringing In The Sheaves" as being among its tracks; despite this the song is not heard on the OHM series bootleg of Stuffed Trigger which has circulated online, instead appearing half-way through Rusty Coathangers.
With these points in mind, a rough approximation of the track listing of the OHM bootleg of Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor would be as follows:
All tracks composed by The Delta Nudes unless otherwise noted.
- Improvisation #1
- "Bye Bye Birdie" Edit Piece
- featuring "One Boy" and "Kids" (Strouse/Adams)
- Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor (with false start)
- Improvisation #2
- Improvisation #3
- Bringing In The Sheaves (traditional)
- Improvisation #4
- Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney)
- Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor #2
- Bo Diddley
- Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney)
For many years, the existence of Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger were known to fans primarily through references in the 1979 essay "The True Story of The Residents by Matt Groening (published in the book The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents), as well as occasional mentions in later promotional materials distributed by Ralph Records.
Former UWEB fan club president Uncle Willie said that his personal research in the Cryptic archives in the early 1990s turned up only "a few pieces" of Rusty Coathangers and "a suite" entitled The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger.
Leaks and bootlegs
The first public airing of Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor was on the Portland radio station KBOO-FM in the 1970s, by an associate of the group's friend Bill Reinhardt. Reinhardt has claimed that he was personally supplied with copies of Rusty Coathangers, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger, The W***** B*** Album and B.S. by Hardy Fox, with the intention that they be aired on KBOO.
An unidentified Residents fan is known to have purchased the four demo tapes from Reinhardt in 1989. Reinhardt was suffering financial problems at the time and sold the tapes (his personal copies) reluctantly; this betrayal of confidence would nevertheless permanently strain Reinhardt's relationship with The Residents from that point on.
In January 2006, a user by the name of "Cryptic" claimed on Electrical Audio forum to have the original tapes of Rusty Coathangers and another unnamed tape in their possession, and asking for help either with restoring them, or for advice on how to do so themselves. In September of that year, this information was added to a (now deleted) Wikipedia article about Rusty Coathangers, where it came to the attention of Hardy Fox of The Cryptic Corporation. Fox questioned the veracity of the original post in an edit on the article, explaining that as the tapes were securely stored in the Cryptic archive, it was not likely that they had been handed to a third party without the group's knowledge.
The first artifacts from the two demos to leak to the wider public were a sequence of short snippets which were leaked to the Internet by fan Frenesi Gates around 2009, via file sharing program Soulseek. Gates claimed to have received the snippets from "a highly mysterious woman in Barcelona". These extracts appear to be presented in stereo, and are of notably higher sound quality than the mono bootleg copies which have proliferated since, although the complete stereo versions of the tapes continue to elude fans. The fall-out from these leaks eventually resulted in the closure of the Residents Lovers fan forum in 2010.
Both Rusty Coathangers and Stuffed Trigger later leaked in more complete but lower-fidelity, mono versions in 2015, as part of the OHM series of bootleg CD-Rs. Both demos began to circulate more widely among fans on the Internet shortly thereafter. Some copies of the bootleg Rusty Coathangers include a version of the first side of the tape which is significantly lower in sound quality than the second; this version originates from a YouTube video posted by a fan in August 2015, which was a digital camera recording of the first half of the demo being played from a Bluetooth speaker.
It is possible that these bootlegs originate from material which was stolen from The Cryptic Corporation's archive by a former associate and then made available for profit - as such, The Residents and The Cryptic Corporation do not approve of their circulation and availability among fans.
Statement from The Cryptic Corporation
In response to the leak of snippets from Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger in 2010, Hardy Fox (then President of The Cryptic Corporation) released the following statement:
I certainly understand that the reality is that people are going to be curious about this material and the fact that The Residents don't wish them to be listening to it does not exert the slightest to pressure to not do it. But our perspective is to support the group and not encourage people to want to hear these mediocre recordings. I think the only thing that can be done is to make certain it is understood that The Residents regard these as personal recordings and consider people listening to them akin to peeping through the window while they masturbate. A vision that will no doubt drive some people forward as much as it might discourage others.
People do need to be careful that they don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. There is little to nothing to be gained by irritating the group, and already there are considerably more interesting recordings that have not been released to serious fans because they know that unscrupulous people will just post them all over the place. In time, it could kill the group's interest in releasing obscure recordings entirely.
But so it goes. The dam is broken, long live the new dam.
It is said that The Residents have "always hated" the two tapes, and do not consider them to be "Residential". Despite this, it is known that at least one copy of Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor still exists in The Cryptic Corporation's archive, unlike The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger, which is "nowhere to be found".
In 2016, an excerpt of "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor" was featured in the documentary film Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents, but the song was not included at all on the film's accompanying soundtrack release.
In early 2019, Richard Anderson of Cherry Red Records revealed that Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor was under active consideration for inclusion in the then-upcoming pREServed compilation A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big, but when it was released in November 2019 no excerpts from the group's pre-W***** B*** demos were included. It was ultimately revealed that The Residents had compiled a 22-minute "concentrate" edit of Rusty Coathangers for the release, but shelved it after deciding that they "really didn't like it and never wanted to hear it again".
The Residents instead later created a shorter seven-and-a-half minute edit of the Rusty Coathangers "concentrate", which was included as the first track on the Record Store Day vinyl-only compilation Leftovers Again?!, which was released in a limited edition of 1400 copies on June 12th 2021. The shorter "Rusty Concentrate" consists of the title track, a mix of excerpts from the album's untitled improvisations, and ends with a short section of the reprise of "Rusty Coathangers", which fades out before the segue into "Bo Diddley".
Leftovers Again?! (2021)
As the Sixties mutated into the Seventies, a group of people who would go on to become a group of people who would go on to become The Residents began making their first recordings. Using a two-track machine, this gaggle of crazy kids, and The Residents, produced two experimental tapes, 'Ballad Of Stuffed Trigger' and 'Rusty Coathangers For The Doctor'. Crude and throwaway, this material was never intended to be heard by anybody outside of the group. Not even by anybody inside the group, if possible. They were experiments, nothing more, and littered with false starts, feedback, chatter and bad jokes. However, the tapes began to gain cult status as word of their existence spread alongside The Residents' fame (having been first mentioned by Matt Groening in his 1979 'True Story Of The Residents'). The group, however, remained unmoved. They really hate this stuff. However, they do admire their fans' persistence, and appreciate their patience. So presented here, by popular demand, is a 'concentrate' showcasing the small portion of 'Rusty Coathangers' material deemed even vaguely listenable by the group, under considerable pressure from The Cryptic Corporation. And as for 'Ballad Of Stuffed Trigger', well you can forget about that one.
- The Delta Nudes
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger
- The Warner Bros. Album
- ERA B474
- The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss
- OHM series
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big
- Leftovers Again?!
- Scott Colburn, "Residents Tape Archive", Scott Colburn Blog, December 25th 2020
- "The truth is, we have Rusty Coathanger, but they always hated it, and Ballad Of ST is nowhere to be found. It's possible it was stolen, a few tapes were over the years. They also always hated that too, which is why those two never came out. They did prepare a 22 minute edit of Rusty but decided they really didn't like it and never wanted to hear it again! True story." - Richard Anderson, private message to wiki contributor Tom-Erik Løe, ca. July 2020
- "Rusty and Trigger are the two recordings they really don't like, or consider Residential. There was a 22 minute 'concentrate' of Rusty they edited together a year or so ago, but I think it freaked them out! I think it's the only thing I've suggested or asked of them that they've said "No" to." - Richard Anderson, The Residents Facebook group, January 15th 2020
- Jim Knipfel, "Somethin' Devilish: The Untold (And Finally True) Pre-History of The Residents, 1963-1971"
- Charles Bobuck, THIS Is For READERS
- "W.E.I.R.D. Complete Discography & Recording History", The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents, 1979
- Scott Colburn, "Residents Tape Archive", Scott Colburn Blog, December 25th 2020
- Leftovers Again?! liner notes, 2021
- "I played the RR tape copies of Baby Sex and WB on my KBOO show, yes. Those and others Hardy gave me as gifts for airing, along with promotion of MTR in the first year we were friends, 1973-74." - William Reinhardt, The Residents Facebook group, August 2nd 2018
- "Damn, I had the original R-R tape, a special gift from Hardy for airplay on my KBOO radio show. Well, years later in '89 I was desperate for cash and sold it. Our close relationship was fractured when they found out! I never recovered the trust we once shared after that regretful mistake!" - William Reinhardt, The Residents Facebook group, April 4th 2019
- Dave Warden, The Cryptic Guide To The Residents, 1986
- Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide To The Residents
- "I had a R-R copy of 'Rusty Coathangers' that I played on KBOO and promoted in heavy rotation 'Santa Dog' I, too have the original, signed copy of 'Santa' that we used on the air." - "rossarooney", comment on "THE RESIDENTS REVEALED! (rare photos of Vileness Fats, Homer, Hardy & Jay)" YouTube video, ca. 2011
- Big Brother, "Cryptic poser trolling the sites", The Residents' Official News BOG, September 26th 2006
- "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor" article on Polish Wikipedia
- "...I may have been the person responsible for leaking those snippets to Soulseek in like 2009... They came to me from a highly mysterious woman in Barcelona... The leak caused H Fox to issue a statement... and a Residents forum was closed down as a result" - Frenesi Gates, The Residents Facebook group, April 26th 2018
- Big Brother, "Can You Hear Me Now?", The Residents' Official News Blog, January 30th 2008
- Cross-posted by Frenesi Gates to The Residents Facebook group, April 26th 2018
- "For what it's worth, I gather RCFTD is under consideration, although considered not very Residential at all. Ballad even less so..." - Richard Anderson, The Residents Facebook group, March 27th 2019
|Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor|