Santa Dog '78 was recorded by The Residents following the resolution to their disagreement with The Cryptic Corporation in 1978. The Cryptics had gifted the group an entirely new recording studio to make amends, and The Residents decided to celebrate the acquisition by recording a new version of "Fire" from their 1972 Santa Dog EP.
The B-side to the single is the original "Fire" (here retitled as "Santa Dog"), but mastered at 40rpm instead of 45rpm, meaning that the track plays slightly slower than it should.
"Fire" would later be revisited again repeatedly by The Residents, including an aborted version in 1984, another finished version in 1988, multiple new versions and related tracks in 1999, and another version for Halloween 2017.
Presents for the Future
Although two months had passed since we had last seen or communicated with The Residents, there was little surprise when we were greeted by familiar music drifting out of the studio upon arriving for work early one morning. The Residents received us enthusiastically, bubbling about their adventures as though their absence was as ordinary and expected as night following day.
Eventually explanations began to leak out. Work on Eskimo had gotten so abstract that they could no longer find the key elements they were trying to capture in the recordings. Discovering that their protective isolation had turned into a prison which prevented the necessary balance between fantasy and reality that fuses creative direction, they had taken the Eskimo tapes to England and entrusted them to their friend Chris Cutler with instructions to hold them until they could "wash their ears out".
Following a large number of adventures, The Residents returned to San Francisco and went straight to the studio and spent the entire night recording this new version of Santa Dog, which was their first record (it is included on this disk for those unfamiliar with this 1972 classic). They decided to record this song again as a tribute to the innocence of their former days. They claim the biggest problem with Ralph Records is that they are too successful, thereby threatening their innocence from which so many ideas have sprung.
The group, following this break, now feels a better grasp on their reality and acknowledge that part of that reality is change. "Innocence must always give way to maturity eventually," one said. "Anyway, happiness comes from manipulating your weaknesses into your strengths, not from chasing desires," stated another.
With this, Santa Dog '78, The New Residents pay humble tribute to the old. And in that same spirit, Ralph Records wishes to pay homage to its founding days and hopes you'll accept this record as a token of both The Residents' and Ralph Records' appreciation of the support you have given us.
May the happiness of the Holiday Season be yours.