|PLEASE GO AWAY!
This recording was not intended for release. THEY HATE IT!!!
The W***** B*** Album was compiled in order to showcase the talents of the then unnamed group to Hal Halverstadt, merchandising director for Warner Bros. Records. Halverstadt rejected the tape, but in doing so, inadvertently inspired the group's name by returning the tape addressed to "Residents, 167½ 17th Avenue, San Mateo".
The W***** B*** Album was first officially released by The Residents in April 2018, as a limited pREServed vinyl edition for Record Store Day. This newly remastered edition was then issued on CD, on the first disc of the 2019 compilation A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big.
- 1 History
- 2 Legacy
- 3 Release
- 4 Track listing
- 5 Liner notes
- 6 Credits
- 7 Trivia
- 8 See also
- 9 Buy Or Die!
- 10 External links and references
The W***** B*** Album is perhaps better known for its role in the history of the group who recorded it than for its contents (which are not considered by The Residents to be at all representative of their later direction).
It was compiled from recordings dated between September 1970 and May 1971, after the group had sent Warner Bros. Records merchandising director Hal Halverstadt a P.R. "coupon" (a parody of a Warner Bros. Records press advert), which was returned to the group with a note indicating that they were welcome to submit their demo recordings.
The group had hoped that Halverstadt, who had recently signed Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band to Warner/Reprise, would appreciate their earnest experiments and, ideally, offer them a budget and a major label platform.
The W***** B*** Album is a pair of side-length suites, a "veritable trip through a wonderland of psychedelia" mostly consisting of short, experimental and often instrumental segments, which are often abruptly edited into one another in a crude fashion similar to musique concrete.
Its contents were recorded by the group (credited on the original liner notes as Ensenada and Spontaneous Cumbustion) between September 1970 and May 1971, following the departure of their previous musical collaborator Roland Sheehan, who had featured on Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger. Instead, The W***** B*** Album features contributions from the group's friends Jim Whitaker (who composed "Love Theme from a Major Motion Picture") and Bob Tangney (who composed "Oh God You're A Pie In The Sky").
The demo opens with a short and coarsely-performed take on The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" (thus beginning The W***** B*** Album by asking the listener's permission to "take you down"). This is followed by the first segment of the instrumental piece "The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany" - a track which recurs in five shorter segments throughout the first half of the album, and the nonsensical title of which The Residents are said to find hilarious to this day.
Following this is the suite-within-a-suite, "Baby Skeletons and Dogs", opening with the titular song, in which the group twist the benign imagery of dogs and babies into a single "horrific" image, characteristic of The Pre-Residents' interest in surrealism. The opening part of the suite is now arguably the most characteristic and widely recognized of the group's original compositions from The W***** B*** Album, with two remixes being created in 2004, followed by the rehearsal of a new version for the Talking Light tour in 2011.
It is followed by a sequence of shorter pieces, "Bop Bop Shu Bop Bop", "Stuffed Genital", and "Christmas Morning Foto". "Every Day I Masturbate On A Merican Fag" features a profane poem over a military drum beat and closes with the group feverishly repeating the word "gag". Then follows "Oh Mommy Oh Daddy Can't You See That It's True", a slow, country-style ballad with lyrics which would later be re-used by the group as the name of a 1976 live performance, and which interpolates the theme to the TV series I Love Lucy on kazoo.
The "Baby Skeletons" mini-suite closes with a reprise of the "Baby Skeletons and Dogs" theme, before segueing into a short series of segments of "The Mad Sawmill", interspersed with other short pieces, including "Going To Arcata Blues" (a jazzy piano number with high-pitched backing vocals), short instrumentals "Black Velvet Original", "Jimi Hendrix Dildo", and "In the Still of the Night", and an acoustic guitar and violin-based cover of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm".
The first side of the demo closes with "Sweet Meat" (also known as "Goodbye Lover"), a piano ballad bemoaning the end of a one-night stand in prurient terms. The second side opens with a short piece, "Oh Yeah Uhh Bop Shoo Bop", which abruptly cuts into "Ohm Is Where The Art Is", a simple song based around an acoustic guitar melody and the refrain "Ohm is where the art is/God is where a fart is".
Short, mostly instrumental pieces dominate the second side of the demo, acting "frantically" and "like a precocious child needing attention". "Love Theme From A Major Motion Picture" differs from this pattern, assuring the listener that "all is okay". Composed by the group's collaborator Jim Whitaker. Its "chillout" 2003 RMX version was licensed for use on an unspecified Korean compilation in the late 2000s.
The demo concludes with a short reprise of "Oh Mommy Oh Daddy Can't You See That It's True", followed by the instrumental improvisations "Art The White Elephant" and "Psychedelic and Orgasmic Finale".
The demo features the earliest known album cover art by Homer Flynn's graphic design company Punographics, Ltd., who have continued to handle the vast majority of The Residents' cover design into the present day.
The silk-screened cover features a Warner Bros. logo positioned prominently on the front, in a color scheme matching that of the record labels the company were using at that time. A variant of the front cover with a purple (rather than green) color scheme has circulated on the Internet for some years, but is of unknown provenance - all versions of the cover art officially released by the group, despite some relatively minor variations, feature the common green color scheme.
The back cover features an image of a tap-dancing peanut Richard Nixon on the head of a smiling girl (who had attended elementary school with a member of the group). The demo's liner notes (first published in 2018 with the release of the pREServed vinyl edition) include a pornographic image of a friend of the group performing fellatio on an unidentified man, and an essay outlining the group's early philosophy.
The original proofs for the front and back cover art designs were displayed publicly from April to June 2011 at Johansson Projects in Oakland, California, as part of an exhibition of the graphic work of Flynn and The Residents.
Response from Hal Halverstadt
Hal Halverstadt was not overly impressed with The W***** B*** Album (later describing it as "okay at best"), but rejected it politely, with a short note on Halverstadt's letterhead returned with the reel, grading it an "AXPp":
- A - for Ariginality
- X - for Xecution
- P - for Presentation
- p - for potential
The demo, "ill received as commercial", was returned in an envelope addressed to "Residents, 167½ 17th Avenue, San Mateo". Finding significance in this "bland, colorless" sobriquet, the hitherto nameless group were inspired to become Residents, Uninc. - a name which they would continue to use throughout their early history, eventually becoming The Residents in 1974 with the release of their first studio album.
Despite the rejection, Halverstadt and Residents, Uninc. continued to correspond occasionally for a few years, with Halverstadt usually offering jokingly back-handed encouragement to the fledgling group (becoming particularly interested in the production of their unfinished feature film Vileness Fats), but ultimately fell out of contact after Halverstadt left Warner Bros. Records in the mid-1970s.
Both The W***** B*** Album and B.S. remained unreleased by The Residents until both tapes were broadcast to the public in their entirety by the group's friend Bill Reinhardt on KBOO-FM radio in Portland, Oregon, during a Residents-themed radio festival in 1977.
Most versions of these two tapes that were widely available amongst fans are home recordings of this broadcast, although higher quality copies from an earlier generation copy since became available as part of the OHM series of bootleg CD-Rs. It has been said that these bootlegs originate from material that was stolen from The Cryptic Corporation's archives by a former associate and later made available for profit. As such, The Residents and The Cryptic Corporation do not approve of their illicit circulation among fans.
Excerpts from the original W***** B*** Album would first become officially available on the ERA B474 and The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss compilations in 2012 and 2013 respectively, before the tape's complete remaster and release in 2018 as a Record Store Day limited installment in the group's pREServed series.
Being "restless re-inventors", Residents, Uninc. are said to have done some further work on The W***** B*** Album following its rejection by Warner Bros. Records, recording new material and re-recording existing material to "tighten it up". However, even after creating "a few" versions of the demo, the group were still unsatisfied, and set the tapes aside entirely to begin work on another project.
Around 2002-2003, The Residents were experimenting with remix tools, taking the tapes which composed The W***** B*** Album and using them as source material for new creations. These experiments resulted in the release of a remix album, WB:RMX, in 2004 by The Cryptic Corporation. WB:RMX features radically remixed versions of only a handful of the songs from the original tape, with a more modern production style. Many selections have been reworked and overdubbed to the extent that they bear little resemblance to the original tracks.
The release of WB:RMX acted as a direct response to the increasing demand for the release of the group's unreleased early material, and the fact that bootleg copies of the original version of the tape had already begun circulating on the Internet. It also introduced the term "RMX" into Residents lexicon, and preceded the release of further "RMX" projects in later years (such as The King & Eye: RMX and Charles Bobuck's Radio Thoreau download series).
It has been noted that The Residents still consider The W***** B*** Album to be unfinished (even after the 2004 release of WB:RMX), and that the demo is a candidate for further reworkings in the future (similar to the group's occasional re-recordings of their 1972 single "Santa Dog"). However, other than a version of "Baby Skeletons and Dogs" which was rehearsed for inclusion in the group's 2010 tour Talking Light (but ultimately not performed on tour), no further remixes of The W***** B*** Album material have eventuated to date.
The W***** B*** Album was remastered and issued for the first time in its original, unremixed form as a limited edition vinyl release for Record Store Day on April 21st 2018. Released as a special entry in the group's pREServed reissue series, the demo was newly remastered from the original master tape by engineer Scott Colburn for the release.
The LP features a black outer sleeve hiding the demo's original cover art and liner notes within. Rather than featuring extensive historical liner notes like other reissues in the pREServed series, this release includes the previously unseen (and pornographic) original liner art for the tape as sent to Hal Halverstadt, as well as previously unseen artwork on the labels of the record.
The vinyl release of The W***** B*** Album was released in a limited edition of 1500 copies, and was followed by a similar pREServed vinyl edition of B.S. on Record Store Day in April 2019.
Both of these new remasters were compiled in their entirety (alongside live recordings from the same era) on CD and released in November 2019 for the first time digitally and in wide distribution, as the two-disc pREServed compilation A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big. The version of The W***** B*** Album presented on A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big is split into five distinct suites, rather than separating the demo's fragments to match the original track titles.
- Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney) (0:27)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (1:08)
- Baby Skeletons and Dogs (6:37)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (0:28)
- Going to Arcata Blues (1:56)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (0:06)
- Black Velvet Original (0:13)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (0:08)
- Jimi Hendrix Dildo (0:39)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (2:01)
- In the Still of the Night (0:19)
- Maggie's Farm (Dylan) (1:23)
- The Mad Sawmill of Copenhagen, Germany (0:02)
- Snot and Feces Live at the Grunt Festival (0:49)
- Sweet Meat (2:29)
- Oh Yeah Uhh Bop Shoo Bop (0:45)
- Ohm is Where the Art Is (3:03)
- Concerto in R Flat Minor (1:23)
- Gagagapiggaeioupe (0:38)
- Sold American (0:39)
- Love Theme from a Major Motion Picture (0:38) (Whitaker)
- Prelude for Accordion, Sousaphone and French Horn (0:30)
- Oh God You're a Pie in the Sky (0:55) (Tangney)
- Short Circuit Comes to Town (0:13)
- Marching Toward AEIOU Blues (0:47)
- In the Still of the Night Again / Rumba (2:01)
- Oh Mommy, Oh Daddy, Can't You See That It's True Again (1:05)
- Art the White Elephant (1:11)
- Psychedelic and Orgasmic Finale (5:58)
Original tape (1971)
Musicians think they own sound. Art has long been smudged by the craftsman. Many people think art is based on knowledge and our culture has tended to make people feel stupid (and obviously they are because they believe it) actually knowledge is a hindrance to free expression. We love sound. "Music" is one of our favorite sounds. Our taste in "music" is as varied as "music" and extends well into "non-music". We are frustrated "musicians". We never learned to play a "musical instrument". All our "musician friends" told us we couldn't play until we learned notes and chords and things. We quickly realized in ten years we would be able to play as well as people do now. Bullshit! In ten years we intend to play better than people do in ten years. We decided we would never become "musicians" we would reanalyze interesting sound to see what we could do with any "musical" training. Except that two albums later our funds had been nearly depleted between recording equipment and buying enough musical instruments to equip a junior-high jazz band. All of our literate friends thought we were crazy except for a piano player who has been studying "jazz" for twelve years who thought, "they are more interesting than any band I have played with". Thus began our concept of commercial potential which has led to The Warner Bros. Album this album is not too commercial but represents the direction in which our sounds are moving yes we are on our way (or have to go) towards becoming craftsmen in what we do and expect to smudge the name of art even more someday. After all, this is 1971 and art is just a little old-fashioned. LONG LIVE THE MEDIA
Previous releases: Rusty Coat-hanger for the doctor / The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger "The chicken crosses the road so that he might obtain the other side."
pREServed limited vinyl edition (2018)
- Recorded, performed, produced and compiled by The (pre)Residents, Spring 1971
- 'With thanks to' The Residents' Mysterious Archivist and The Cryptic Corporation
- Original 1971 master tape transferred and mastered by Scott Colburn
- Original artworks and artifacts provided by The Cryptic Corporation
- Layout by Paul Bevoir
- 'Strawberry Fields Forever:' Lennon-McCartney, Mac Len Music, Inc. BMI
- 'Maggie's Farm:' Dylan, M. Witmark & Sons ASCAP
- All Other Songs: Pale Pachyderm Publishing, BMI
- Love Theme: Whitaker
- Pie In The Sky: Tangney
- All Other Songs: Ensenada and Spontaneous Cumbustion
- Cover Design: Ensenada
- Art By: PunoGraphics, Ltd
- Produced and edited: Ensenada
- "Sold American" was sampled in the track "Pink", found in the Chicken Scratching with The Residents compilation.
- A 2011 EYEFUL download of a Talking Light rehearsal included "Baby Skeletons and Dogs", indicating that the song was considered for the tour but ultimately not included in the set list.
- The Delta Nudes
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger
- Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor
- ERA B474
- The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big
Buy Or Die!
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big at MVDShop (US)
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big at Cherry Red Records (UK)
- The Warner Bros. Album at The Residents Historical
- "Before the Beginning" on RZWeb
- The W***** B*** Album at Discogs
- A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big at Discogs
- Homer Flynn, "Homer Flynn (Spokesperson for The Residents) on WZRD Chicago 88.3FM" on Mixcloud, August 5th 2021
- Big Brother, "Can You Hear Me Now?", The Residents' Official News Blog, January 30th 2008
- The Residents/Homer Flynn exhibition at Johansson Projects
- Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide To The Residents
- RandyLand Episode 1
|The W***** B*** Album|
(recorded 1971, released 2018)
|The Mysterious N. Senada|
(1907 - 1993)
Max Steinway · Hardy Fox · Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman · The Delta Nudes · Residents, Uninc. · "Eloise" · "Kamakazi Lady" · Andrew Hook · O for Obscurity, Or, The Story of N.