Meet The Residents Wiki
Advertisement

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

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" vinyl singles, sent in the mail to a select number of recipients (including Frank Zappa and Richard Nixon).[1]

History

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.

Release

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)

Credits

Legacy

"Fire" has frequently been revisited by The Residents frequently in the years since its release, as a means of marking their musical progression across their career. Their initial plan was to create a new version of the song every six years, which they began to implement with the recording of "Santa Dog '78", but after a version recorded in 1984 failed to proceed past the demo stage, they decided instead to revisit the track whenever their outlook or musical direction had changed sufficiently to justify a new version.

After this decision, The Residents went on to re-record the track in 1988 and 1992; all of the versions of the song (including the complete original EP) were collected on the 1999 compilation album Refused, which also featured several newly-recorded renditions, as well as an augmented version of the aborted 1984 demo.

Further versions of "Fire" followed in 2006, 2012 and 2017; these three versions were collected on the 2019 Klanggalerie CD reissue of Refused, which excised "Explosion", "Lightning", and "Aircraft Damage" and included a gamelan orchestra version of the song, a 2013 live version, and a version titled "Santa Cow" which had been left off the 1999 edition of the album.

Santa Dog 50th Anniversary Collection

Red and green variant of Santa Dog 50th Anniversary Collection

On February 25th 2022, Secret Records announced two Residents releases for pre-sale; a reissue of the compilation Loss of the Lizard Lady (featuring the group's work with vocalist Molly Harvey), and a double LP compilation, the Santa Dog 50th Anniversary Collection, featuring the four tracks from the original EP as well as every successive version of "Fire" recorded by the group since - similar in concept to the 1999 compilation Refused.

The compilation was available in an edition of 350 hand-numbered copies on red and green splattered vinyl, and another 150 copies on white and red "peppermint" splattered vinyl. The cover art is a 12" gatefold reproduction of the original 7" EP picture sleeve. The album was also made available for streaming and digital download from the Secret Records Bandcamp page on the day of its announcement. The vinyl album shipped in May 2022.

Track listing

  1. Fire (1:44)
  2. Explosion (2:18)
  3. Lightning (3:20)
  4. Aircraft Damage (3:50)
  5. Santa Dog '78 (1:53)
  6. Santa Dog '84 (2:55)
  7. Santa Dog '88 (5:13)
  8. Where Are Your Dogs? Show Us Your Ugly! (12:51)
  9. Flood (2:42)
  10. Famine (0:44)
  11. Santa Dog '84-'99 A Work In Progress (2:58)
  12. Plague (1:38)
  13. Pestilence (4:08)
  14. Fire '99 / Santa Dog 2nd Millennium (9:52)
  15. Santa Dog For Gamelan Orchestra (5:12)
  16. Santa Dog 2006 (2:46)
  17. Santa Dog 2012 (6:04)
  18. Santa Dog 2017 (4:36)

Quotes

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

There’s always been an interest in creating cool things. The first Residents release was Santa Dog, a two record set of 45s with silk-screened covers. It’s part of The Residents’ ongoing war with Pop Culture in that they like things to be more individualized and have a sense of being done by a human being, whereas the culture likes everything to be uniform and homogenized.

- Homer Flynn, interview with Seconds, 1997

Santa Dog was a two-record set of 45rpm discs. Now for all of you out there that don't remember 45s, they were these round black things about that big, with a hole in the middle. We recorded Santa Dog at Christmas in 1972, and we sent it out to all of our friends. And a few wannabe friends too. We sent Santa Dog to The Beatles, Frank Zappa, and even President Nixon got one. We didn't get too many thank you notes, but we were having a great time.

- Randy Rose, The Wonder of Weird, 2013[3]

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

11:16
Torso NL 11:17
1999 Ralph America US Part of Refused 11:12
2009 Birdsong & Hayabusa Landings JP Bonus tracks with

Meet The Residents

11:14
2014 Superior Viaduct 7" US
2018 New Ralph Too, MVD Audio & Cherry Red CD pREServed - bonus tracks with

Meet The Residents

11:29

See also

External links and references

Santadog-sml-transparent.png Santa Dog
(1972)

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

Personnel
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)
Advertisement