Songs for Swinging Larvae (1981)
Click the cover for a larger version
Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
Joe's Indian Gets the Goat on the Way to the Cowboys' Conga
Stew the Red Shoe
Guava a Donut?
Trip to Venice
(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-9; Side 2: tracks 10-16
LP: Ralph Records RL-8108 (out of print)
LP: Do It Records RIDE 6
CD: T. E. C. tones 90802
CD: Reissued in 2013 with bonus content
- An unknown quantity of copies of this CD
were mispressed, containing an album of Garth Brooks
- This CD release featured three bonus tracks:
Renaldo's CD Liner Notes:
the days of early Renaldo & the
Loaf. Renaldo (Brian Poole) and Ted the Loaf (Dave Janssen)
hail from Portsmouth, England. After collaborating for a number
of years, it was in 1977 that we discovered a music that excited
us. To us it was a music with direction in uncertainty, with
a strange coherence in ambiguity. Noise experiments seemed to
distill into songs, and the recordings on this disc bear witness
to the odd events that resulted in Songs for Swinging Larvae,
the first full LP to be revealed to the world.
It is true to say that a previous, tape-only album (Renaldo
& the Loaf play Struvé & Sneff) did see local,
Portsmouth release and it was that tape that ultimately secured
us a recording deal with Ralph Records in 1981. Two tracks from
that period - 'Bathroom Song' and 'Metro Stomp' - are included
on this disc as a taster. 'Melvyn's Repose' was recorded especially
for the Ralph sampler Frank Johnson's Favorites and is
contemporary with the Larvae sessions.
Made by chance and ruled by dice, Larvae can guide you
through playful music of abandon, laid, hatched and recorded
exclusively in a bedroom studio. Pursuing a weird medical/insect
fetish, these songs saw us happily abusing our tape machines,
plundering the hardware store, honing our scalpels and continuing
to revel in the game of making conventional instruments sound
synthetic. Invention is born out of necessity, as, at that time,
we could not afford synthesizers anyway.
Renaldo & the Loaf never had a definable attitude as we said
at the time; no great philosophies, no political stance, just
a want to think sideways, enjoy ourselves and hope some others
might enjoy it too. Not afraid to be ridiculous and not afraid
of ridicule. So, welcome one and all, feel free to smile at
our history. I believe in bugs, do you?
- Brian 1990
Dave: The title is just
a play on Songs
for Swinging Lovers. The fascination with insects came
about because I studied entomology as part of my degree. The
world of insects seems quite strange and different to our world
insects can see into the ultraviolet, some have ears
on their front legs, they have bizarre life cycles. Its
also asked us to prepare a single to go with the Larvae album,
it was to be released a couple of weeks beforehand. The A side
was to be Medical Man / N2O (Going Under), the B
side, Post Mortem. We even sent some artwork for it (now lost)
but the project was shelved of course.
The album was moderately well-received, the reviews were
pretty mixed. Some reviewers hated it whilst others were more
well disposed towards it. I remember that one reviewer who gave
it 3 stars out of 5 later told us that hed only listened
to it once before he wrote the review and that, after listening
to it some more realized that it was a lot better than hed
originally thought. Still, that probably happens quite often
given the number of albums a reviewer has to listen to in a
1.) Lime Jelly Grass
I remember Dave explaining
to me that he had a memory of being very young and of a birthday
treat his Mum prepared for him...a chocolate blancmange rabbit
surrounded by lime jelly grass.
the scientific term for the feces of insect larvae. Not a lot
of people know that.
Dave: N2O is
nitrous oxide, laughing gas, the anaesthetic. I had quite vivid
memories of going to the dentist as a child and having teeth
extracted under gas. I used to love the strange dreamlike state
of going under the gas and N2O was an attempt to
recreate how that sounded. The words are taken from Reveries
of the Solitary Walker by Rousseau with a lot of the words
substituted by randomly chosen words from the dictionary. This
was then recorded with Brian speaking the text. The tape was
then cut up, reversed, the order of parts of words changed so
that the text got more and more confused and disorganised, a
bit like the process of going under the gas.
8.) Spratts Medium
no logical reason this track was named after a brand of British
It was named after a type of dog biscuit. It was probably
mentioned somewhere in Endgame by Samuel Beckett because that's
where the words came from.
12.) Is Guava A Donut?
Brian had this game with a number of dice, which
had words, rather than numbers on each face. The idea was to
throw them and make an amusing sentence. Is Guava a Donut
was a sentence produced in this way. As a sentence its
obviously quite absurd and meaningless. I thought it would be
interesting to work backwards to something that had meaning
sort of Chinese whispers in reverse. So that gave us
the sentence Is Dover a seaport? That then became
the starting point for a series of increasingly bizarre questions,
ending with Is Guava a Donut?
14.) Hats Off Gentlemen
Dave: This is a series of
loops taken from a Debussy piano piece called The Drowned Cathedral,
this, like Renaldos trip to Venice was just
a tape experiment. The title is taken from The Plague by Albert
Camus. Theres a character in the novel who is writing
a book himself. Hes very painstaking and fastidious about
his writing and wants it to be perfect. Consequently hes
only written a sentence so far, and its taken months.
When its finished he wants everybody to say Hats
Album artwork original sketches :
These were 'studies' done by Gary Panter for the cover of Songs
for Swinging Larvae.
Click any sketch to view a larger version.
The music video:
In 1981, The Residents produced a video for Renaldo and the
Loaf's Songs for Swinging Larvae featuring Spratt's
Medium, Lime Jelly Grass, and Melvyn's Repose. It
was directed by Graeme
Renaldo - "As far as I know the Larvae 'video' was the
first one to make a short film/promo out of multiple tracks
. Sure enough, the Residents had done linked short videos (One
Minute Movies, The Commercial Album) and a musical (Vileness
Fats) but nothing like this. The project was discussed when
we visited San Francisco in 1981. At the time, Dave and I suggested
using Is Guava A Donut?, with a little boy annoying the
grown-up. This must have sparked the later suggestion from the
Ralph crowd to base it around a true abduction story from the
newspapers at that time. Nowadays such things freak people,
but then it was not such a disturbing thing, the story had a
happy ending and no-one was hurt. The track list was discussed
and we were consulted by post as filming went on. We suggested
the backwards filming bits for example. I think the project
took some time. When we saw it, we were impressed but knew it
would be controversial, but such things get you noticed.
"Certain scenes, though creative, are now very touchy
(the abduction, kiddy wrapped in ropes, handcuffs, bathing bit,
the suggestion the kid is being abused in some way). The kiddy
was about four when the filming was done. His mum was there
all the time, and though on one occasion he seems to cry (hair
dying scene) he thought the experience was fun. The second boy
who crawls in and tells him how to escape was his brother."
Here are some screenshots from the video (mouse-over the numbers
to view different shots):
Check out the video on YouTube!
Video Release History:
1981 - 16mm film Ralph Records
Click for larger versions
"The typed label is the original Ralph one. The
other label was stuck on by Doublevision who had borrowed
the reel to transfer to video for TV Wipeout. We went
to a Cabaret Voltaire gig in Bournemouth (not too far
from Portsmouth) to collect it from them before the
show hence the Brian Poole +3 which ensured we
got on the guestlist."
1984 - TV Wipeout (VHS)
- Doublevision (UK) DV4
One of the first video magazines, RatL's contribution
is followed by an interview with David Bowie!
1987 - Video Voodoo Vol
1 (VHS) - Palace Video PPS2025
1997 - 20 Framed Beats (VHS)-
Mouthy (UK) 004
A locally-produced compilation of film/videos
by Portsmouth bands. The version of Larvae on this has been
censored by the compilers who were nervous of some of the content.
The music is intact but sections of the film are repeated in
odd places to cut out certain 'difficult' scenes - the effect
is very strange!
2001 - Icky Flix (DVD) -
Featuring the Residents cover versions of the
3 RatL tracks.
Renaldo M.: Guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, drums, flocdrum,
glockenspiel, bamboo, diverse percussives, Ted's metal comb,
loop to "Sob Story," and voice.
Ted The Loaf: Guitar, clarinet, loops, scalpel wielding,
prepared guitar, hacksaw blade, bass on "Gnome Song," and additional
percussion on "Ow! Stew the Red Shoe."
Written and Produced by Renaldo & The Loaf
Recorded at Odd times at Sneff's Surgery Between Nov. 79 and
All transformations realized without the use of synthesizers
or juvenile hormone.
Cover concept: Renaldo and The Loaf
Cover Art: Gary Panter
Art Direction: Rex Ray
A Rotcod Production
All songs written by Renaldo & the Loaf and published by Pale
Pachyderm Pub BMI except where noted