|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!!!
The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger is a demo tape compiled in August 1970 by the group who would later become known as The Residents. With contents dating from the summer of 1970, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger is one of the group's earliest surviving recordings, originating from the same sessions as their previous demo, Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor.
It is known that The Residents "really don't like" the tape, thus almost all of the tape's contents have never been officially released. In 2020 it was reported by a spokesperson for Cherry Red Records that the tape was "nowhere to be found" in the group's archives.
Only short excerpts from the demo have been officially released by the group, with an edited version of the title track first being released on the compilation ERA B474 in 2012. A low-quality bootleg copy of the tape began circulating among fans in 2015.
The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger was compiled in August 1970 by a loose collective of like-minded eccentrics going by the name The Delta Nudes, from hours of recordings made with multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan, who had appeared at their San Mateo apartment in June of that year with a U-Haul trailer full of musical instruments.
The recordings were made by Hardy Fox on a two track reel-to-reel tape recorder, which he received around 1969 as a gift from a friend who had recently returned from Vietnam. This tape recorder was unusual for its time, as it allowed the user to perform a primitive form of overdubbing by bouncing recordings between tracks.
The title track (referred to by Sheehan as "When Roy Stuffed Trigger") was composed and recorded spontaneously shortly after the group had composed the song "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor". In co-writing these two songs, the skilled multi-instrumentalist Sheehan followed the group's instructions to avoid using any musical knowledge by creating his own chords.
Sheehan left the group at the end of the summer, however by this point they had already begun to craft the many hours of tape material they had amassed into two demo reels, Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor (completed in July 1970) and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger (completed in August).
These two tapes were considered "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 William Reinhardt, has publicly confirmed receiving copies of all four of their early demos as a gift after making their acquaintance in 1974.
The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger is described in the 1979 book The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents as being "approx. 40 minutes of material on 1/4 inch reel tape @ 7 1/2 in.", with "no accompanying artwork". The tape's contents originate from the same sessions as the group's previous demo Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor, with guitarist Roland Sheehan indicating many years later that the song "The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger" was composed and recorded almost immediately after the song "Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor".
The tape includes early, abortive attempts at covering The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction", The Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)", and the traditional "When Johnny Comes Marching". All three songs would later recur as thematic elements throughout the group's later career as The Residents. Other standards featured include versions of George Gershwin's "Summertime" (later re-recorded by The Residents in 1984 on the album George & James), The Beatles' "Let It Be", and "House of the Rising Sun" (a traditional folk song popularized in 1964 by The Animals).
The title track features a long instrumental coda on the original demo which is not heard on the officially released edit first heard in 2012 on the Robot Selling Device compilation ERA B474. That mix ends at the beginning of the coda, with a crossfade into an unspecified choral recording which is not heard anywhere on the bootleg version of the demo tape. Similarly to Rusty Coathangers, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger features a reprise of its title track towards the end of the tape, which segues into the demo's finale.
As the tape was not intended by the group for release and was not accompanied by any cover art or liner notes, there is no known definitive track listing for The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger.
The tape's entry in the recording history featured in the 1979 book The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents lists only three song titles; two originals, "The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger" and "Ecological Blues", a version of the traditional standard "Bringing In The Sheaves", as well as "a suite of rock and roll songs" (described as being untitled in the later Cryptic Guide to The Residents). "Bringing In The Sheaves" does not feature on the version of The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger which has circulated among fans, instead it is heard on the previous demo Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor.
With these points in mind, a track listing for the OHM series bootleg of The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger could be roughly approximated as follows:
All tracks composed by The Delta Nudes unless otherwise noted.
- Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards)
- Cherry, Cherry (Diamond)
- Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney)
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger
- Improvisation #1
- Ecological Blues
- Summertime (Gershwin)
- That's The Place For Me
- Improvisation #2
- House of the Rising Sun (traditional)
- Summertime #2 (Gershwin)
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger #2
- Improvisation #3
- interpolates When Johnny Comes Marching (traditional) and Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love) (Smith/Vetter)
The earliest reference to Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger in any of The Residents' written material was in 1971, when they were listed as "previous releases" in the liner notes to their privately distributed The W***** B*** Album demo.
For many years, the existence of the two tapes were known to fans only through their description in the 1979 W.E.I.R.D. fan club publication The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents, and through occasional references in Ralph Records promotional material in the mid-to-late 1970s. Uncle Willie later said that his personal research in The Cryptic Corporation's archives in the early 1990s only turned up "a suite named 'The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger'".
Leaks and bootlegs
An unidentified Residents fan is known to have purchased copies of the group's four demo tapes from the group's friend William Reinhardt in 1989. Reinhardt was suffering financial problems at the time and sold the tapes (his personal copies) with regret; this betrayal of confidence would nevertheless strain Reinhardt's relationship with The Residents from that point onwards.
The first artifacts from Rusty Coathangers and Stuffed Trigger 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. It is possible that these bootlegs may have originated from material which was stolen from The Cryptic Corporation's archives by a former associate, and then later 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.
To date, only the demo's title track has been released officially by The Residents (on the ERA B474 and The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss compilations, in 2012 and 2013 respectively), in a shorter edit which crossfades into a recording of a choir at the beginning of the instrumental coda.
A short clip of one of the Stuffed Trigger renditions of "Summertime" (with faintly audible vocals not heard on the demo version) is heard around the 9:38 mark of the 2015 documentary film Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents.
Aside from these two excerpts, the only material from The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger which is available to fans is the mono OHM series bootleg, which has circulated on the Internet since 2015.
Richard Anderson (the group's spokesperson from Cherry Red Records) said in January 2020 that The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger was not being considered for release by The Residents, as they don't consider it to be "Residential" (apparently "even less" so than Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor) and had "always hated" it.
Later that year, Anderson further explained (in response to a private message from a fan) that although at least one complete copy of Rusty Coathangers exists in The Cryptic Corporation's archive, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger was in fact "nowhere to be found", possibly being one of a number of tapes which were stolen from the archive by a former associate.
It is likely for this reason that the liner notes of the 2021 vinyl-only compilation album Leftovers Again?! (which includes a "concentrate" version of Rusty Coathangers) claim that fans "can forget about" Stuffed Trigger altogether.
Buy Or Die!
- "Before the Beginning" on RZWeb
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger (Bootleg CD-R) at Discogs
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Bigat Discogs
- Jim Knipfel, "Somethin' Devilish: The Untold (And Finally True) Pre-History of The Residents, 1963-1971"
- "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
- "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
- Charles Bobuck, THIS Is For READERS
- 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
- "W.E.I.R.D. Complete Discography & Recording History", The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of The Residents, 1979
- Dave Warden, The Cryptic Guide to The Residents, 1986
- Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide To The Residents
- "...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
- Leftovers Again?! liner notes, 2021
|The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger|