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Santa Dog is a 1972 EP and the first official release by Residents, Uninc. (who would become known simply as The Residents the following year).

Considered by The Residents to be the official beginning of their history as a recording group, Santa Dog was first issued in a limited number of gatefold "Christmas cards" containing two 7" singles, sent to selected recipients (including Frank Zappa and Richard Nixon).[1]


Santa Dog (alongside the group's debut album Meet The Residents) is considered by The Residents to be the first entry in their official catalog of recordings. The group had earlier recorded the demo tape B.S. in 1971 under their newly-adopted moniker, Residents, Uninc., and up to this point, had been a loose assembly of friends with a rotating membership.

Between October and December 1972, the group recorded four songs which were their most elaborate and sophisticated recording efforts to date. The songs were compiled into a double 7" EP, entitled Santa Dog (after a phrase which recurs heavily in the opening song "Fire").

Each of the four songs appearing on Santa Dog is credited to a different artist (including Ivory and the Brain Eaters, The College Walkers, Arf and Omega with The Singing Lawn Chairs, and The Delta Nudes), with additional fictional songwriting credits for each track. The listed artists and composers are all essentially The Residents, though each track features a different member of the group on lead vocals.

For the EP, the group made extensive, prominent and pioneering use of sounds sampled from other records; for instance the bridge of "Fire" samples "Peter Gunn" by The Ventures (taken from the 1967 instructional LP Play Guitar With The Ventures Volume 7), "Explosion" samples "Hunters of Heaven" from the 1968 album of the same name by Japanese musician Harumi, and the rhythm section heard on "Lightning" is derived from the 1930 recording "Ritmica No. 6: Tiempo de Rhumba" by Amadeo Roldán.[2]

"Aircraft Damage" was originally written and recorded for the soundtrack of the group's feature film project Vileness Fats. In the film, the song features as a chant used by Arf and Omega to summon the Indian princess Weescoosa in order to help them save the town of Vileness Flats.

"Fire" has frequently been revisited by The Residents over the years; the group re-recorded the track in 1978, 1988, 1992 and on the Refused compilation, which also featured an aborted attempt from 1984. Further versions followed in 2006, 2012 and 2017. The group initially planned to create a new version of "Fire" every six years, however after the perceived failure of the 1984 version, they decided instead to revisit it whenever their outlook or musical direction had changed sufficiently to justify the creation of a new version.


Inner gatefold illustration for Santa Dog, 1972

The Santa Dog EP consisted of two 45s in a hand silk-screened gatefold sleeve, which had been designed by Homer Flynn in the guise of his newly founded graphic design company Porno/Graphics. The EP was intended to look like a Christmas card from an insurance company; apparently this was a reference to the fact that one member of the group had previously sold insurance.[2]

The inner gatefold included artwork illustrating each song, surrounded by text wishing "Season's Greetings from Residents, Uninc." and announcing the upcoming Vileness Fats film project ("coming soon to a theater near you"). 500 copies were pressed, but only 400 were usable because of pressing issues and other problems.

Of the 400 usable copies, 300 were sent out to friends, record companies, and anyone else who came to mind, including then-President of the United States Richard Nixon, whose copy was returned unopened, stamped "Refused".[1][2] The group sent a copy to Frank Zappa, but it was also returned to them unopened as Zappa no longer lived at that address.

Some of the sets were shrink-wrapped before the varnish on the silk-screening was dry, and the packages had to be torn apart to be opened. As a result, original copies of the EP with undamaged cover art are very valuable on the collectors' market.[2]

Santa Dog was reissued in its original double 7" format for the first (and, to date, only) time in 2014 by Superior Viaduct, in a package which closely replicated the original pressing.

Track listing

  1. Ivory and the Brain Eaters - Fire (Play) (1:43)
  2. The Delta Nudes - Explosion (Gnue) (2:15)
  3. The College Walkers - Lightning (Givens) (3:17)
  4. Arf and Omega featuring The Singing Lawn Chairs - Aircraft Damage (Barnes/America) (3:45)



Santa Dog was The Residents' first pressed record; it represents their 1972 Christmas card, as well as being the first official Ralph Records release.

- Jay Clem, The Residents Radio Special, 1977

Release history

Year Label Format Region Notes Length
1972 Ralph Records 7" US 11:00
1988 East Side Digital CD Bonus tracks with

Meet The Residents

Torso NL 11:17
1999 Ralph America US Part of Refused 11:12
2009 Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings JP Bonus tracks with

Meet The Residents

2014 Superior Viaduct 7" US
2018 New Ralph Too, MVD Audio & Cherry Red CD pREServed - bonus tracks with

Meet The Residents


See also

External links and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 "...yes, we did send one to President Nixon and yes, he did refuse it." - Blog by Randy Rose, Maurice and Me, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Santa Dog - Res History Ep. 1" by Mr. Riggsy's ResTube on YouTube, April 27th 2021
Santadog-sml-transparent.png Santa Dog

Side A: "Fire" by Ivory and the Brain Eaters · Side B: "Explosion" by The Delta Nudes
Side C: "Lightning" by The College Walkers · Side D: "Aircraft Damage" by Arf and Omega feat. The Singing Lawn Chairs

Residents, Uninc. · Arf and Omega Berry (Palmer Eiland and George Ewart) · The Singing Lawn Chairs (Pamela Zeibak)

Related works
Vileness Fats ·"Santa Dog '78" · "Santa Dog '84" · "Santa Dog 88" · "Santa Dog '92" · Refused · "Santa Dog 17"

Related articles
The Ventures ("Peter Gunn" · Play Guitar With The Ventures Volume 7) · Sycamore St. studio · Ralph Records · Porno/Graphics · Richard Nixon · Frank Zappa · Meet The Residents

Wbrmx-sml-transparent.png The Delta Nudes / Residents, Uninc.
(1967 - 1974)