A Postcard from Morocco
…from the elusive Petunia Liebling MacPumpkin, who has struck up a correspondence with the more elusive Brian Poole:
I attached my original letter from 1994. [Renaldo] sent Tom a post card to send to me, and at the time he was on a trip to Morocco, so the post card has a giant pie on the front and about a dozen Moroccans around it. It says “AGADIR…le plus grand COUSCOUS du monde!” on the front. This is Brian’s response:
DEAR MS. MACPUMPKIN Am in Morocco and felt I had to write. Unfortunately I arrived too late for this (see front) great event. Apparently the food was compressed into blocks after the photo was taken and the blocks are now used as the cornerstones of new civic buildings. To date no yodeling Arabs but plenty of covered elbows. Am digesting letter sent by Tom, your questions are challenging & I may need time. Regards BRIAN RENALDO
So he never wrote back and answered my questions, but I guess that was enough for me. The post card had RENALDO germs on it, you know!!!
A Medical Discovery
From Jason Polland:
I made a fascinating discovery no less than ten minutes ago. The song “A Medical Man” from Songs For Swinging Larvae is a direct reference to the first chapter of the book “The Sign Of The Four” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The “medical man” in the song is Dr. Watson, and the other fellow in the dialogue is none other than Sherlock Holmes. The lyric “So hence the cocaine, where is the mystery?” has always been a puzzle to me, until tonight when I found Sherlock utter the phrase “Hence the cocaine.” In reference to his use of the drug as a way to artificially occupy the mind when he had no cases to solve. “The Sign Of The Four” is the second Sherlock Holmes novel, from 1889.
Other lines such as “your brother was careless” also refer to the book; Holmes and Watson were discussing a watch that had belonged to Watson’s older brother, and Holmes deducted that he was a careless man because of damage sustained to the watch cover.
Three More Bits of Lyrical Archaeology
by Anders Moe:
Spratt’s Medium: The lyrics “there’s no painkiller anymore,” “One day you’ll say, ‘I’m tired, I’ll stop'” and some other bits and pieces are from Samuel Beckett’s Endgame.
Ow! Stew the Red Shoe!: The story of young Joe Breem or Breen is quoted almost verbatim from one of Beckett’s four short stories from the 1940’s–possibly from a collection called “First Love”.
Green Candle: The “green candle” might be from Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. “By my Green Candle!” is one of Ubu’s favourite exclamations.
and of Course the title Songs for Swinging Larvae is a parody of the Frank Sinatra album title, Songs for Swinging Lovers!
A fan from Chile tells his tale
from corteza de arbol: “I’m a R & t L fan and it was really great to find your web pages on them. You can’t imagine how exciting it was to find out more details about their history and their recording career. All I knew about them is what can be found in the book ‘Meet the residents’ which is not very much, you know. Renaldo and the loaf and their music have always meant a lot of things to me I really love their approach to playing and creating music and I’ve always […] identified with it. In 1990 I was 17 and had been heavily into progressive rock until that point. Then I started to discover more obscure things like Henry Cow, Fred Frith, all of the R.I.O. groups, the French ayaa kind of eccentric rock and of course The Residents, their music really blew my mind and I was listening to their early records all the time. It was a great time for me because I was really hungry for new and unconventional musics , and it was like discovering a new world. And I had a musical [friend] and then, one day he showed up and told me: ‘I’m going to play you an amazing record, look it is a Ralph records release, these guys are friends with The Residents! Renaldo & the Loaf, it’s a weird name, isn’t [it]?’
The name itself sounded great to my ears. Well, if it’s on their label it must be good. Do they sound like them Which is the residents song you like the best ? he asked and I replied ‘YOUYESYESYOU’ ( he knew it was ) and then he said ‘ you’ll love this ‘ And we listened the entire record in one sitting. It was another mind blowing experience. I’m a musician myself and I thought ‘THIS IS FOR ME, THIS IS DEFINITELY MY KIND OF SOUND’ Songs for swinging larvae became a real obsession to me, I was dazzled by it. I had taped it and carried everywhere, I thought things like ‘this is amazing, I have never listened to anything like it, there are so many ideas per minute those weird tapes and loops going backwards, the childish melodies, the dislocated song forms, etc.’ I was impressed by their originality, their naivety, their sense of humour and because [they] were not afraid of being ridiculous. I learnt a lot from them. With the passing of time I became very much interested in other kinds of music, mostly free improvised and contemporary classical, electronic and minimal and today I’m -ironically- under the spell of Robert Wyatt and the Canterbury scene again ( a kind of music I had been into by the late 80’s ) But this seems to be the way it works when you really like music, you’re always evolving. But Renaldo and the loaf is and will always be one the most important things that I happened to find. An important and strong link with my past.
boom boom crash crash boom boom crash crash !”
A Visit from the Rottcodd
from divaD: “ROTCOD, apart from being DOCTOR backwards is also the name of the curator of ‘The Hall of Bright Carvings’ in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast; who spends most of his time asleep in a hammock as nobody is particularly interested in visiting the collection.”
Hambu ly s xpo ed!
from Neville Harson: “I have a Renaldo-related lyrical archaeology question of my own, concerning the song “Hambu Hodo.” I’ve already heard that it was named after a run-down fast-food stand (or something) that used to read “Hamburgers, Hot Dogs.” But what do the other lines refer to? I’ve figured out two of them so far, perhaps someone could help me figure out the rest.
“ZE AN HE AR O MOTO” could be “ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE.”
And “SRAGE EWS FRO AN O HE SAR” is probably “STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR,” a book of stories by Hesse.
Could it be that the lyrics are comprised of butchered book titles from the collection of either Renaldo M. or Ted the Loaf?”
An Addition from Dawud Kuttaab:
In support of Neville Harson’s archaeolyricological hypothesis regarding Hambu Hodo, “HE ON SHO WAY FRO OMELA” could well be “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin.
From Dawud Kuttaab: “Speaking of obscure hypotheses: as we all know, the RatL piece “Hats Off Gentlemen” [from SONGS FOR SWINGING LARVAE] is constructed of short tape snippets, mainly of some solo piano recording(s). Now, the phrase “Hats off, gentlemen” is (of course) the phrase that kicked off Robert Schumann’s famous review in which Frederic Chopin was officially “discovered.” So…it would follow that the sampled piano work(s) in the RatL piece would be Chopin work(s). Wouldn’t it?”
CLARIFICATION from Renaldo M:
“The Sob Story Hatless Conjecture…is very inventive but incorrect. Hats Off was made up from loops from Debussy’s ‘Drowned Cathedral.’
This is New Wave?
from Mervine: “If I write that I can’t believe that I’ve finally found a site for fellow loafers it will be the equivalent of writing to Penthouse Forum and saying “I never thought I’d be writing to you before but…” but who cares. I can’t believe I finally found a site for fellow loafers and I’m glad I have. Here is my tale:
In about 1981 I was 17 and had just been turned on to the B-52’s, Devo, Ramones, etc. Overnight I went from a Judas priest/Ted Nugent/AC-DC freak into a dedicated new waver. I come from Delaware, USA which at the time and probably still, wasn’t exactly the center of alternative culture and I was desperate for new and unusual sounds. I had almost no friends in the know about anything off the beaten track so I schlepped down to the record store in the mall and went searching. I found the “new wave” section, which contained about 20 records and just started looking. I’m sure that if I could see those titles today they would all be familiar to me but at the time it was just a big pot luck. As my naive and eager young fingers pored avidly through the stack I came across a curious and beautiful album. The cover was odd and intriguing and I thought the name of the band was hilarious, Renaldo and the Loaf. I didn’t make the Sinatra connection with the title either(all my folks listened to was bad, white gospel) so I thought that was a scream, too. This was the album for me!!!
“When I took it home I put it on and waited for something like “Rock Lobster” or “Are we not men”. Needless to say that’s not what I heard! I guess my little redneck mind was not as open as I had hoped. I HATED IT!!! “This is new wave?” This sucks!
Coming up shortly was the birthday of the guy who turned me on to all the new stuff so I gave it to him. He hated it too! He hated it so much that he gave it back to me and said, “no thanks!” So I stashed it in the back of my record collection and pretty much forgot about it. I guess some of those freaky melodies stuck in my brain somehow and every now and then I would take the album out and listen to a few songs. It wasn’t what I had expected but it was kind of funny and humor is very important to me in music. Ever so slowly I started liking this madcap album. By ’82 I was in college and was beginning to meet all kinds of new weirdos that I really clicked with. A couple of guys I started to party with were into the Residents, Throbbing Gristle and stuff like that and by now my chemically enhanced mind was expanding at a breakneck pace so I turned them on to Renaldo and by this time I had finally recognized the insane geniuses that I had discovered so many months before.
Needless to say it is now one of my favorite albums of all time and I’m glad I have finally found a forum to share my passion.
I live in London,England now and am wondering, do they play live at all? Are they still making beautiful music together? I would love to know any new info on them.
Thanks for doing this site.”