The year was 1970, and a group of snot nosed punks from Shreeveport, Louisiana, recently transplanted to San Mateo, California were busy working on art. They'd been at it for quite a few years by this point, putting together tapes of music for people who sent them around to other people. In 1971, one tape managed to make it to England, where it caught the ear of one Phillip Charles Lithman. He was so enraptured that he came to San Mateo to meet the mysterious folks behind the recording. He would work with them repeatedly. According to legend, on his way to San Mateo, he stopped in Bavaria, and picked up a man named N. Senada. N. Senada worked with the group of budding musical artists, helping to apply his theories on music to their work.

Before this happened, though, they felt that they had progressed enough to take a stab at being commercial musicians. So, they got themselves into their living room cum studio with a two track reel to reel tape recorder, and banged out (literally in parts) a demo album with their motley assortment of seemingly random instruments. There was an out of tune saxaphone, an upright piano, also slightly out of tune, percussion of some sort, acoustic guitar, electric bass, electric guitar, and plenty of tape manipulation. It was music in the loosest sense possible, but it was 1971, and people would still probably buy it. They certainly seemed to dig it.

The plan was to hit up Harve Halverstadt at Warner Brothers, as he had worked with the great Captan Beefheart. They slipped a copy of the tape into a box with a jolly Warner Brothers logo on the front, and shipped it off. Halverstadt gave it a listen, and sent back the tape, and a letter. The letter gave the album the rating of "AXPp - A for ariginality (Halverstadt were obviously hip to the fact, that they were from the south); X for Xecution; P for presentation; and p for potential". Meaning that the tape was well executed, original, and presented well... but there's no way it'll sell. So, in no imprecise terms, they were rejected.

Of course, the tape was sent in anonymously. These guys were more than a bit paranoid about being found out. They wanted a contract, yes, but they wanted to be left in obscurity as well. However, there was an upside to this. On the envelope, the name Halverstradt put on the address would be the name of this group for the rest of time. It was addressed to The Residents.

Eventually when The Residents caught on, word of this album spread. The Residents denied its existance, then denied denying its existance. They said it sucked, and it was crap, and they'd never play it... again. However, in 1977, The Warner Bros. Album was played on a radio special along with another tape, Baby Sex, made at the same time. Well, never again, it would be played. The Warner Bros. Album, as far as The Residents were concerned was gone. Dead.

Then, a few things happened. In 2003, MP3s, supposedly from The Warner Bros. Album started appearing on file sharing services. Nobody knows how they got there. Some say they're recordings from the 1977 radio special. Others claim someone stole a copy of the tape from The Residents' archives, and ripped MP3s of it. Still others suggest The Residents put it up themselves. The last two theories are given some authority by the appearance of MP3 versions of various Residents demo recordings at about the same time. Of course, were they real?

The Residents have never been one to actually say anything to the public. Their keepers at The Cryptic Corporation said nothing as to the validity of the MP3s, but said that The Warner Bros. Album MP3s shouldn't be traded - quite a clue. So, it seems the work had made it out into the public, a public which had been clamoring for it for years. (Well, some of the public. I guess most couldn't care less.) The Residents were upset, but they figured an official release was in order. However, they didn't just take their old tape and slap it to CD. They went into their studio and played with it. The result was released in late 2003 as WB: RMX, and the samples of the original in the album sound a hell of a lot like the bootleg MP3s... not that I've heard them of course. Not me...

Sources:
http://theresidents.co.uk/history/tango.htm
http://www.rzweb.net/prehistory.html
But not the bootleg MP3s! Nope! Uh-uh!

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