srijeda, 27. veljače 2013.

Renaldo & the Loaf Play Struvé & Sneff (1979 Original) / Bali Hai 2012 - 1980 (2013)

U Hrvatskoj su ponajprije poznati kao izvor za nekoliko džinglova Radija 101. U svijetu - kao britanska verzija The Residents. Sad su aktualni zbog reizdanja njihova klasičnog, prvog albuma. (Imali su samo jedan živi nastup, u Bali Haiju, i njegova je snimka pridodana ovom izdanju.)
Legende svega uvrnutog; svaka pjesma je otkačeni, burleskni, nadrealni, kolažni skeč. Feel-Harpo-pneumonia Philharmonic Jerkestra.

streaming albuma

The Elbow is Taboo (1987)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
1.) A Street Called Straight
2.) Boule!
3.) The Elbow is Taboo
4.) Hambu Hodo
5.) Dance for Somnambulists
6.) Here's To The Oblong Boys
7.) The Bread Song
8.) Critical Dance
9.) Extracting the Re-Re

(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-4; Side 2: tracks 5-9

Renaldo's CD Liner Notes:
You know how it is sometimes when you're looking for inspiration -- maybe, every once in a while you catch a snippet of conversation or read a choice phrase that kick-starts an idea for a song title or lyric and suddenly it's playtime.
Now, these instances can be few and far between; that's how it was for some of this, Renaldo and the Loaf's final album, which took over 3 years to put together despite the advantage of 8 track recording and early digital effects to help us on our way.
We were fired up by intriguing phrases like 'The Elbow is Taboo', 'Here's To the Oblong Boys' and 'A Street Called Straight'. In the instance of 'Hambu Hodo' that was seen on the side of a distressed fast-food wagon where some of the letters from 'Hamburgers/Hotdogs' had fallen off; so, naturally, the lyrics had to be equally distressed. 'Boule!' was recorded for a project by the French band Ptose, who invited us to produce a cover version of their song about an itinerant dog. Similarly, 'Extracting the Re-re' was prepared for a touch tapes (UK) project on ritual.
Each song attempts to tell its own story, be it a child's desire to control (A Street Called Straight), the ridiculous purdah of an innocent part of the body (The Elbow is Taboo), a call for help in times of angst (Here's To the Oblong Boys), the rigours of a bread fetish (The Bread Song), the anger of a dance teacher to the terminally inept (Critical/Dance) or a ritual call to prayer, somewhere (Extracting the Re-re).
Personally important is that each song is also a distinct memory of a time, place or observation; a diary of the odd scenarios and obtuse thoughts that, back then, went buzzing through our heads.- Brian 1993
Loafy Things to Say:
There were a group of us sitting in a pub one Saturday night talking and somehow the phrase the elbow is taboo came into the conversation, either I or Brian actually said it and we looked at one another and said, ‘that would make a good song title.’ It was only later that we decided to make that the name for the album as well.
Did You Know About...?
The Elbow Is Taboo Desperation Issue

Click the cover for a larger version
Waldo said: "Bite the Wax Tadpole".
Dave: I was reading a copy of Readers Digest at coffee break one day and came across this amusing piece of information. When Coca-Cola first went on sale in China the marketing department looked for some Chinese characters that sounded phonetically like Coca-Cola. When they translated these characters into English they discovered that they meant ‘bite the wax tadpole’ – it’s like Frass; not a lot of people know that.

 Hambu Hodo 12'' (1987)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
Side 1
1.) Hambu Hodo
Side 2
2.) The Elbow Is Taboo
3.) Writing Postcards From Italy
This version of Hambu Hodo is an expanded and reorganised version to that which appears on the LP. At the time of constructing the 12" version of Hambu Hodo, Some Bizarre asked for a 7" (radio friendly!!!!) edit - this was made but never released.

Renaldo and the Loaf Play Struvé and Sneff (1984)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
1.) Meaning of W.E.I.R.D.
2.) 16 Going on 17
3.) Absence
4.) 120 Before Zero
5.) Of Bad Teeth
6.) My Favorite Things
7.) Metro Stomp
8.) Scottish Shuffle
9.) Fluorescent Showboat to Tangier
10.) Brittle People
11.) Dying Inside
12.) Kimbolton Gnome Song
13.) The Bathroom Song

The Loaf Tells Us About Some Specific Tracks:
1.) Meaning of W.E.I.R.D.
Ralph Records was running a competition for the best suggestion for what the acronym WEIRD meant. Rather than send a written entry we wrote a song. The lyrics were generated by randomly picking words out of a dictionary, with a bit of selection to keep the strangest or, to us, the funniest sounding ones. Walk energetically in rubber dungarees does conjure up an image, doesn’t it?
4.) 120 Before ZeroThe lyrics were generated randomly from a music paper, NME or something. The title refers to rewinding the backing tape to a certain point, which was 120 before zero, i.e. –0880 on the tape counter.
5.) Of Bad TeethWell, ‘Of Bad Teeth’ was a setting of a Bertolt Brecht poem, with a Madness influence, the group Madness that is.
7.) Metro Stomp
‘Metro Stomp’ is the only piece from the ‘Swinging Larvae’ era. Metro Stomp is an anagram of Post Mortem and the basic track is the slowed down backing track to ‘A Medical Man’ copied out of phase with itself with some improvised guitar and clarinet overdubs – shades of a Henry Cow influence here.
9.) Fluorescent Showboat to Tangier
This is a song about the pub we used to drink in after a hard day in the surgery. The title comes from the fact that the pub was called The Tangier and in the lounge bar was a tank of tropical fish. In the fish tank was a sunken paddle steamer or showboat, painted in rather lurid colours. So I think you can put the title together from that. As for the lyrics, each line is an observation about the pub, which I read out to Brian, backwards. He then had to translate it back to ‘English’. So, Frosted glass in the ladies door becomes Throsted glas in ledis dor. Fancy carpet on the floor becomes Fanky farket ol te flor, or something like that – you get the picture.
The vocals on 'Showboat' are interesting in that we used 'prepared voice' to modify the sound of Brian's singing. As I recall Brian put an elastic band around his head so that it went around his mouth a bit like a horses bridle. This pulled his mouth out of shape and altered the sound of his voice.
12.) The Kimbolton Gnome SongThe room that was now ‘Sneff’s Surgery’ over looked the gardens of Kimbolton Road in Portsmouth. One of these had a large number of garden gnomes and the song is just a fantasy about the owner’s obsessive care for his gnomes.

Olleh Olleh Rotcod (1985)

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1.) Critical/Dance
2.) Like Some Kous-Kous Western
3.) Brittle People
4.) The Elbow is Taboo
5.) Bearded Cats
6.) She Wears Black
7.) Gone To Gwondana
8.) Medical Man
9.) Fluorescent Showboat to Tangier
10.) Is Guava a Donut?
11.) Leery Looks (from Father's Books)
12.) Then At Iona Lanthem

Title in Limbo [with the Residents] (1983)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
1.) Intro: Version
2.) The Shoe Salesman
3.) Crashing
4.) Monkey & Bunny
5.) Mahogany Wood
6.) Sitting on the Sand
7.) Africa Tree
8.) Woman's Weapon
9.) Horizontal Logic
10.) The Sailor Song
11.) Extra: Version

(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-5; Side 2: tracks 6-11

Arabic Yodelling (1983)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
1.) Green Candle
2.) Night
3.) Bearded Cats
4.) The Blowflies' Dilemma
5.) Dichotomy Rag
6.) A Critical Dance
7.) Wilf in Builth
8.) Leery Looks (from Father's Books)
9.) None After Rain
10.) Clean Gender
11.) Vitamin Song
12.) Lonely Rosa
13.) J.P.W.B.C.
14.) Like Some Kous-Kous Western
15.) Nelda Danced at Daybreak
16.) There's a Cap on the Lawn

(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-6; Side 2: tracks 7-16

Renaldo's CD Liner Notes:
More than two years in the making, "Arabic Yodelling" was Renaldo and Ted the Loaf's second release on Ralph issued in 1983. Recorded in a home studio (Sneff's Surgery) on 4 track, the pieces here were constructed using tape manipulation, loops, found sound and conventional instruments, including a keyboard for the first time.
This collection of songs and tunes describes characters, places and covert observations, although not designed to have a preconceived storyline, the songs seem to lend themselves to a picture show of the mind. Each listener is free to wander through this place, creating (or not) their own interpretation. My personal catalogue of images and scenarios would go something like this....
Imagine a frontier scene where pyramids meet a De Chirico cityscape, where sand dunes almost reclaim Main St., where neon-lit nomads, cowboys and carousers mix with dubious characters of the night, totally self-sufficient on the 'Urban Range'. Encounter the Bearded Cats (a sleazy club combo), Lonely Rosa (party guest from hell), Feral Nelda (gross yet graceful) and the little boy, resident in an 'adult shop', who believes mother is boxed and inflatable. Even Joe, hot from the cowboy's conga, makes his appearance as he sets off on a sand counting expedition. So close your eyes, mount your camel and transport yourself to this Vegas of another world -- let your pictures come too! - Brian 1993

Dave: The title comes from ‘Like Some Kous-Kous Western’. There’s a bit where Brian sings something that sounds vaguely eastern or Arabic and somehow mutates into something like a yodel – I commented that it sounded like Arabic yodelling and that was filed away somewhere for future use.
There’s a lot of other material from this era that was never finished for one reason or another.
1.) Green Candle
Dave: The title comes from a line in the play Pere Ubu by Alfred Jarry – ‘by my green candle’. I’d heard it on an Open University program and it became a phrase we used on dice evenings.
Brian: The lyrics were inspired by the writings of Baudelaire - about the decadent city, it's inhabitants, those who live for it and thrive in it - the 'bon viveurs' and creatures of the night. At the time I was teaching at a school of architecture and Baudelaire's imagery was a point of reference for some students of urban design.
3.) Bearded Cats
Dave: It grew out of something that started from the two of us just playing guitar together. It had a kind of jazzy feel to it and the lyrics grew out of that; the idea of these two guys in some dingy club playing this jazz number. They’re not too hot so ‘every now and then we play a bum chord’. Brian knew a guy who could play violin and he came in one day to record his part long after the track was otherwise finished – I never even met him.
5.) Dichotomy Rag
Dave: This uses something called a fragmenter, which was a loop tape made up of lengths of magnetic tape and leader tape. It was run through a three-head tape deck set on record. The output of this deck fed into another tape recorder, which recorded the output of the first deck. This meant that only the bits of music that fell onto a piece of magnetic tape were recorded and then subsequently recorded onto the second tape deck. So although we were playing continuously only fragments of our playing were recorded. It was just another way to try something new. Once we had this basic track Brian recorded the overdubs, having learnt to play to the backing, something that was beyond me.
7.) Wilf in Builth
Dave: I went on a walking holiday in mid-Wales and on the holiday met someone called Wilf. The holiday ended up in a place called Builth Wells which, most people just call Builth. Builth is actually pronounced ‘bilth’. So ‘Wilf in Bilth’, I just liked the sound of it.
10.) Clean Gender
Dave: ‘Clean Gender’ is an anagram of ‘Green Candle’ and is sort of a reprise.
12.) Lonely Rosa
Dave: The basic track for ‘Lonely Rosa’ started in a similar way to 'Bearded Cats' with a guitar improvisation.
13.) J.P.W.B.C.
Dave: When we were mixing the album I had a short instrumental backing that sounded vaguely Japanese. We’d hired a varispeed tape deck to master the album on and we found that we could slow down the violin part on 'Bearded Cats’ to fit with this Japanese-like backing I’d made. So ‘JPWBC’ simply stands for Japanese piece with Bearded Cats. Or, just pretending we’re Burmese coolies.
14.) Like Some Kous-Kous Western
Dave: The title came from the idea that if you moved a spaghetti western eastwards it would be a cous cous western.
Album artwork original sketches:
Click any of these sketches to view larger versions.

Songs for Swinging Larvae (1981)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample
1.) Lime Jelly Grass
2.) A Medical Man
3.) Bali Whine
4.) Kimbolton Gnome Song
5.) Frass
6.) N2O (Going Under)
7.) B.P.M.
8.) Spratt's Medium
9.) Honest Joe's Indian Gets the Goat on the Way to the Cowboys' Conga
10.) Ow! Stew the Red Shoe
11.) Bustle the Burgoo
12.) Is Guava a Donut?
13.) A Sob Story
14.) Hats Off, Gentlemen!
15.) Renaldo's Trip to Venice
16.) Ted's Reverie

(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-9; Side 2: tracks 10-16
Renaldo's CD Liner Notes:
Welcome to 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. It’s endlessly fascinating.
Brian: Ralph 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.
Dave: 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 he’d 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 he’d originally thought. Still, that probably happens quite often given the number of albums a reviewer has to listen to in a week.
1.) Lime Jelly Grass
Brian: 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.
5.) Frass
Dave: It’s the scientific term for the feces of insect larvae. Not a lot of people know that.
6.) N2O
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
Brian: For no logical reason this track was named after a brand of British dog food.
Dave: 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?
Dave: 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 it’s 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 ‘Renaldo’s trip to Venice’ was just a tape experiment. The title is taken from The Plague by Albert Camus. There’s a character in the novel who is writing a book himself. He’s very painstaking and fastidious about his writing and wants it to be perfect. Consequently he’s only written a sentence so far, and it’s taken months. When it’s finished he wants everybody to say ‘Hats off gentlemen

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 Whifler.
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):
1- 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9
Video Release History:
1981 - 16mm film Ralph Records Films

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) - Residents EuroRalph/Indigo.
Featuring the Residents cover versions of the 3 RatL tracks.

Renaldo and the Loaf Play Struvé and Sneff (1979)

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Side 1
1.) Meaning of W.E.I.R.D.
2.) 16 Going on 17
3.) Absence
4.) 120 Before Zero
5.) Brittle People
6.) Dying Inside
7.) Kimbolton Gnome Song
8.) The Bathroom Song
Side 2
9.) Untitled
10.) Letters From Lee

Renaldo's Super Info:
Self released and sold by mail order and through a couple of local outlets. Each copy sold was made from the original stereo master tape - a maximum of 250 copies made.
The cover colour changed after each 10 copies made; the first 10 made were on gold/yellow paper and are identifiable by the accent missing over the e of Struvé.
One copy of the cassette sent out by mail order included a 'hidden' track at the end of Side 2. We'd just finished a cover version of Ivor Cutler's I Believe In Bugs and combined it with a thing we called Fennix, so somewhere out there it may still exist. The track has not been released in any other way.
In 1985, an album of the same name was released on vinyl with extra tracks inserted into the song sequence. This remixed/remastered version, to a degree, lost the fluidity of the original in attempting to reproduce its 'accidents'.
The Loaf Recalls 'Letters from Lee':
This was an improvisation in response to the collapse of our pre-Ralph contract. The basic track was recorded on a tape delay system with Brian saying some phrases from our correspondence with the record company backwards. We then reversed the tape so the phrases came out forwards and added some overdubs. When we decided to put it all together as a tape and to try to sell a few copies we connected the tracks on side one with fragments of another tape-delay improvisation we’d done.

Behind Closed Curtains (1978)

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Side 1
1.) Behind Closed Curtains
2.) Catch!
3.) Robot Tango
4.) Cast Iron Smile
5.) Skeleton Music

Side 2
6.) For Jane
7.) Ode Clone
8.) Duo Dance In H flat
9.) Kelp
Extra Info:
This was recorded as Plimsollline, a short-lived entity that just predated the adoption of Renaldo and the Loaf as the band's title. Arguably, the spirit of what would become RatL is very evident in this work and so it is included here. Cast Iron Smile appeared on the 1984 compilation cassette History of Jazz.

Tap Dancing In Slush (1978)

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Side 1
1.) Vile Bodies
2.) Zing Went The Strings
Side 2
3.) Brittle People
4.) Dada Smoothed
5.) Segment 1

Release Info:
Never released EP
Extra Info:
This was recorded as Plimsollline, a short-lived entity that just predated the adoption of Renaldo and the Loaf as the band's title. Arguably, the spirit of what would become RatL is very evident in this work
and so it is included here. The version of Brittle People differs from that released on Struvé & Sneff.
Back cover:

Click the back cover for a larger version

 Who and the What?
The Beginning


If you stumbled across this site, you may be wondering... WHO and WHAT are Renaldo and the Loaf?! Here is a history of Renaldo and the Loaf as told through interviews with the two band members, Brian Poole (Renaldo) and Dave Janssen (Ted the Loaf). Enjoy!
Dave Janssen: Brian and I first met at school in Portsmouth, back in 1970, I think. It was during an art class. I was tracing a picture of Marc Bolan from Tyrannosaurus Rex’s ‘Prophets, Seers and Sages, the angels of the Ages’ album. It turned out we had a mutual interest in Tyrannosaurus Rex’s music. We both had acoustic guitars and we started messing around playing music together.
Brian Poole: The idea of a duo appealed and so from that time onwards we never thought of forming a conventional band or anything like that. Neither of us could play any instruments, but aspired to play so we both bought guitars at the same time and made rubbish noises. We learnt the basic chords at school and from the early 70's recorded our efforts on cassette. (Believe me no one will ever hear those!!!) Truly embarrassing. Very Bolanesque but from day 1 we always 'wrote' our own stuff, mainly because we couldn't play other people's material anyway. Throughout the following years we developed our own 'style', playing acoustic guitars, bongo drums and various percussives. We were also into bands like King Crimson, electric folk (Steeleye Span etc.) and I think even Yes. We collaborated loosely with a flautist and a cello player, didn't really work out though.
Dave: I suppose the thing that really sticks out is that right from the word go we recorded everything – I don’t know, was that obsessive? Whatever, it certainly shaped the way things would go – part of our history is the improvement in recording technology and the things that would enable us to do. Three other things stand out; Firstly we tried to imitate Tyrannosaurus Rex. They were our biggest influence at the time. We wanted to sound like them but not to actually play their songs. It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we were certainly sincere and we were certainly trying to imitate Tyrannosaurus Rex. Perhaps imitation is another common theme? Secondly, we were awful, at least in the very beginning before we are even competent on guitars. And thirdly, it soon became apparent that I wouldn’t be the singer! I remember we played a very early recording to a school friend who said, “if you close your eyes it sounds like a real group”! That became a tongue in cheek quote on the insert to the 1979 Struve & Sneff cassette.
We got a bit better at playing guitar and actually played a few gigs, still in our Tyrannosaurus Rex phase. Actually we played three gigs, all at our local youth club. I remember we got slightly more experimental with each one, we were discovering other music – the Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, for example. The more experimental we got the less popular we became! There was a bit more improvisation – we did a piece called ‘Raga’ where we used open tunings on the guitars and improvised this vaguely Indian sounding piece, there were definite sections to it but the actual playing was a fairly free. Around this time, about 1972, we recorded a tape, which we sent to John Peel for his ‘Rockitunity Knocks’ competition. Lovers of trivia may be interested to know that the competition was won by Henry Cow. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t get a mention. By the third gig I had a ring modulator and an electric guitar and we even used a backing tape on one piece called ‘Island’ – King Crimson and Can were influences at the time – we had this backward recording of Brian intoning ‘island’ over and over again. Most people, as you can imagine, didn’t get it!
Probably around that time, for me at least, the peak of musical competence was reached and any desire to progress further down that particular path was lost. I knew lots of people who could play well known pieces very well, impressive enough but so what? Writing our own material was important from the very beginning, our imitation was just rather more subtle, sounding like Tyrannosaurus Rex rather than learning to play their songs, the same thing later when we discovered the Residents really.
Brian: Well we didn't set out to be anonymous at all. Unlike the Residents, our real names have always been known, but I guess the personas we associated with our music were our alter-egos. However, the idea of us having alter-egos started before RatL was born….a story.
Back in 1977, we used to go out to the pub with a bunch of friends who were, like us, into The Diceman by Luke Rheinhardt…we used to decide on our actions and do odd, but harmless, things by throwing a dice…like how we'd dress, where we'd go, what we'd do, etc. There were usually about ten of us and, depending how the dice fell, we could all enter a pub in a line walking backwards waving to everybody, sit with our left ears against the wall saying, 'there are sheep on the moors said Lambert' (Ivor Cutler was our hero), randomly stop still and pose like a male fashion model or have a heated and lengthy argument about a ficticious scientific concept called Wipperwill's Principle… it was even funnier if we managed to involve a member of the public in this. These are just a couple of examples - new ideas and lists were drawn up each week to try out.
Anyway, each person in the group who did this had what we called a 'dice name' and they would always be called that. Usually you were given your name by another member of the group and Dave was called Ted (the Loaf) and I was called Renaldo Malpractice…..later we devised our own extra names Josef Sneff (Dave) and Hooper Struve (me) who became our alter-alter-egos for our first cassette album.

"Poodlehead and Floating Ted" promo for Olleh Olleh Rotcod
Dave: I was Ted the Loaf – at the time I had a large beard, which he reckoned made me look like a teddy bear – hence Ted and the Loaf because I’d just got a BSc in zoology which supposedly meant I had some brains. Brains – using your loaf (loaf of bread – head - cockney rhyming slang) hence the loaf. And Brian became known as Renaldo Malpractice – I never was really sure of the origins of this. But anyway it stuck and it seemed natural to use these alternative names....I think the name [Renaldo and the Loaf] was decided on when we put together the Renaldo and the Loaf play Struve and Sneff tape [in 1979].
Brian: In 1974, we went separate ways, me to London for work experience, Dave was at college. When I came back a year later, we were into different stuff, Henry Cow, obscure European bands, early electronic music and ethnic folk music. We were relaxed about starting again but we dumped the type of music we used to do and began raw experimenting. Techniques of preparing a guitar (Fred Frith), tape manipulation (we both had Akai 4000DS machines by now) and lots of improvisations. One Thursday afternoon one of the improvisations distilled into almost a tune and we were excited by it. In 1977 we both discovered the Residents and were excited again…these guys were the nearest to what we sounded like and they released records too!
Dave: I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly we found ourselves playing in a very different style, freer, much more improvised and ‘avant garde’ sounding. You know, the kind of thing that everybody does when they are doing a parody of avant garde music, crash, bang, noise elements, and plenty of discords, tune the guitar randomly that sort of thing.
Also we now had two fairly good tape recorders and were able to set up a tape delay system a la Fripp and Eno. That was quite a thrill at the time, being able to imitate their sound – imitation again! We continued to use that system for many years as a means of improvising – if there’s only two of you the delay system immediately swelled the ranks! We could get a fuller sound. We hadn’t discovered overdubbing yet. One way that we did use the system differently, and I’ve not heard it used this way anywhere else, was to build up rhythms using the delay.
Anyway out of all of this experimentation one afternoon we surprised ourselves by producing something that almost had a song structure. We discovered overdubbing at the same time, bouncing tracks between two tape recorders. So this was the start of a new phase, and this phase really led directly to Renaldo and the Loaf proper. We also discovered loop tapes, which opened up lots of new possibilities.
Dave: ...we recorded a lot of material, now we were using the name Plimsollline. Like that, all one word, we liked the three ‘l’s’ together. We responded to an ad in one of the music papers – ‘artists wanted’ or something like that. Anyway much to our surprise we were offered a deal and we put together an album called Tap Dancing in Slush.
Brian: Tap Dancing in Slush was a 5 track EP to go with the LP Behind Closed Curtains. These collections were recorded between 1978 and 1979 and were made up of the first 'tunes' we were prepared to reveal to the outside world. We answered an ad to send tapes to an indie record label, Raw Records of Cambridge. This guy, Lee, liked what he heard and it was he who suggested the EP/LP releases. As it turned out he didn't put his money where his mouth was and he disappeared. Still, it did give us confidence and we went and met with A&R men from Virgin and Rough Trade. Geoff Travis of Rough Trade gave us useful advice and also suggested we invest in a good multitrack tape recorder. This we did and eventually Struve & Sneff happened.
Dave: We’d settled into a routine by then. We usually met to record on a Saturday, in those days we recorded in my bedroom, later renamed ‘Sneff’s Surgery’. We’d try to record a new piece each week, we’d meet up mid week and talk about ideas to try that Saturday. Often on the Saturday I’d have a new loop tape to play to Brian which would form the basis of the new piece. Or one of us would have come up with a new technique or, ‘what would happen if….’ It was quite exciting, we were discovering new ways of playing. We’d discovered the prepared guitar many years earlier and, I think, we discovered it quite independently of other guitarists, like Fred Frith. I can remember hearing about the prepared piano and thinking ‘you could do that with a guitar.’ Of course in the late 1970’s synth bands were becoming popular. We liked some of the sounds they made but we couldn’t afford our own synthesiser. So we set about making synth-like sounds by other means; tape effects, prepared guitars and so on. Hence ‘Sneff’s Surgery’ the surgery was where we doctored and treated sound!
Brian: I went on a holiday to the west coast of America in 1979 and part of it was in San Francisco. Naturally as a fan of the Residents I went to check out 444 Grove St. [the Ralph Records Store] to buy some records. The place was very secure and I had to use an entryphone to get in. Turns out that I was very lucky as they had a policy of not letting people in, but because I had an English accent they saw me. I got to look over the place and saw things like Snakefinger's 'Dolls' from the 'Spot' single cover, artwork etc. I asked if they would like a copy of Struve/Sneff and one guy said he'd like to listen to it. He took it into a small room (the studio) and played about 3 tracks, he came out and said he thought it was 'excellent'. I spent the rest of the holiday feeling VERY HAPPY. Later I found out the guy was a Resident. So, after a few letters and tapes of new material we received a letter to say they wanted to sign us. Eventually Jay Clem came down to Portsmouth to see us in the Surgery and the deal was done. In early 1981, Dave and I went to San Francisco for 3 weeks to meet all the Ralph crew, do some press stuff and mess around with the Residents in the studio.
Brian: RatL only ever once played live, in 1980 at a hall in Portsmouth. We did it to promote the local LP South Specific which we had 3 tracks on. We were one of 4 bands to play, a rock band, a punk band, a 'pop' band and us. Each band had it's fans/friends there…there were a lot of heavy looking punks and skinheads in the audience which worried us a bit.

Renaldo and the Loaf autographs grace a copy of South Specific for an Australian friend
Our music was very much constructed in a studio so we knew we couldn't play our recorded songs live, so we decided to do an improvisation which was often a starting point in making our songs at that time. So we set up a long-delay tape system using two Akai decks we had - the idea was borrowed from Brian Eno. The machines were separated by about one metre, the sound was recorded on the first deck and played back on the second then fed back to the first and so on. This produced a long echo which repeated and decayed slowly. We went on first and did a 20 minute piece. When we decided to stop, the music carried on by itself so I had to tell the audience we'd finished…which itself carried on repeating. I doubt if anyone there would have heard anything like it before but it was well received…even the punks applauded. So that was that.
We almost played another show in 1985. We were asked by Doublevision (Sheffield-based label closely associated with Cabaret Voltaire) if we could do a live presentation at a theatre in London to support a showing of Residents videos they were planning. We worked with some guys from the Portsmouth School of Art to design a stage set and planned to do 4 songs to a backing tape with me singing live…Dave was going to construct a loop tape live on stage which would play out at the end. We were planning to do 'Hambu Hodo', 'The Elbow Is Taboo', 'Like Some Kous-Kous Western' and one more that I can't remember. One of the guys at the Art School knew Neneh Cherry and she agreed to dance for us with two other women….this was just before she became well-known. Needless to say this all never happened as the theatre was a new building and couldn't get it's fire safety license in time so the show was cancelled…..I think one small advert appeared in NME for it.
Dave: When we first went to San Francisco in 1981, there was this idea to record an album from scratch in four days [with the Residents]. So we spent a couple of sessions just jamming with the tape running and then started going through the material and looking for the best bits that we could work up into something. It was hopelessly optimistic and we quickly realised that we couldn’t do it in 4 days, so the project was shelved.
Brian: Day 1 was the jam and selection of bits to use. Day 2 we would split into two groups, one to write lyrics/devise singing (me and Rez's) and the other to consider overdubs (Dave and Rez's). Day 3 we would record the overdubs . Day 4, mixing. Needless to say this did not go to plan. It turned out the Rez's and we were very similar in work methods and although we all thrived on the spontaneity of the improvisations, the processes that followed needed to be very carefully considered. For all it's 'anarchic' quality , Rez and RatL music was/is extremely crafted (or at least a strict quality control). We ended our visit with a tape of selected sections of the improvisation with some limited overdubs, this tape exists and was given the working title of '4-Daze'. No plans were made to complete it.
In 1983, after the London Mole Show, Dave and I met with the Rez's backstage and we talked about that tape. The Rez's had a space in their diary for us to get together again and they suggested we try and finish the project. A date of September 1983 was set. Unfortunately, Dave could not get the time off but I was lucky to be able to spare 3 weeks and so I went to San Francisco. Dave created some loop tapes for me to take and I took a bouzouki, rababa (one string Egyptian fiddle), and a mesmer (a reed instrument). The next 3 weeks were intensive and quite hard work (in the nicest way). The Rez's instruments were still in transit from Europe so we had a limited selection to chose from. Mostly we used a Yamaha synth, a Resitar (an electric guitar with all strings tuned to E), drum machine, assorted percussion and voices…and of course the talents of Snakefinger and Nessie Lessons. I was disappointed not to get my hands on an Emulator.
The songs were all based around the jam session [from 1981]. One of the Residents had transferred selected bits (chosen by us all in 1981) onto a 16 track tape , these either acted as templates for songs and were completely written over or, in certain instances, parts of the original bleed through ('Sailor Song', 'Womans Weapon'), sometimes chunks of the original feature heavily ('Monkey and Bunny'). Mahogany Wood was the only new song, this featured one of Dave's loops, I played the bouzouki bits and so I guess this one was the most RATL-like track. It is also the one where I got to sing almost with a Resident. Usually we took turns as our voices were so different and didn't mix on top of each other. I had a lot of fun playing the Resitar which I used a lot, in fact just about all the guitar stuff that is not obviously Snakefinger. 'Africa Tree' was one I enjoyed the most. The mixing was completed just a couple of hours before I had to fly back.
Dave: I can’t say that [recording The Elbow is Taboo] was hard, it was certainly different, and I suppose it took a long time. The big change was recording venue and technology. The surgery was no more, we now had a studio at Brian’s flat and we’d also moved on to an 8-track tape recorder and a proper mixer. All of that was made possible through the money we received from Title in Limbo...I’d always had the luxury of being able to experiment whenever I wanted to, with the equipment in my bedroom and this was no longer possible. Having the equipment at Brian’s permanently set up in a room that was used solely as a studio was the logical thing to do. But it did have a big effect on my input. I never felt as comfortable with the new equipment using as the old four-track. We were using a crude sampler for the first time as well, plus a drum machine, so the sound changed as well.
Brian: On Elbow we tried some new equipment, a Roland TR-606 drum machine and a digital delay unit by Korg SDD-1000. This featured a limited sample facility, up to 2 seconds mono!!! Also it was not transposable and could only be triggered by a pulse. We used the TR-606 to do this as well as our Casio keyboard. The clarinet orchestra at the end of Hambu Hodo was played using this sample method, each different note had to be triggered independently and spaces left for other notes when playing it…sounds complicated, it was!
Our sound would have developed further using samplers but it was to be our last album. It took over 2 years to record (1984-6) but then it hung around and was not released until 1987. Our UK record company, Some Bizarre, made sure we got full control over the product, the mastering was on time but the cover photos produced by Some Bizarre were not what we wanted and we took new photos ourselves. It seemed to take ages before the finished article was available and it took a lot of our energy and time. With Ralph we usually got on with new stuff when master tapes were sent off to them, we didn't have to do much more. By the time Elbow was finally completed, I think it's fair to say we were tired of it. Our momentum was lost. Dave and I found it tricky to get going but had started to discuss ideas for what could happen next….electro-medieval was on the cards.

Unused photograph from The Elbow is Taboo sessions
Dave: ...we did record a few other things afterwards. There was a piece we did for a Ralph sampler called ‘Haul on the Bowline’ – a reworking of a traditional sea shanty. I think we’d just run out of steam. The whole project had run almost continuously for 16 years – that’s a long time, a lot of marriages don’t last that long, let alone musical partnerships. There were some new ideas coming. We’d experimented with ethnic or world music with things like ‘Bali Whine’ – the gamelan influence, ‘Kous-Kous Western’ had a vaguely middle eastern feel and then there was ‘Gone to Gondwana’ with an Africa flavour. We had become interested in Early Music – medieval music, and there was possibly some mileage in that. But personally I’d just become rather tired of the whole thing, being weird or strange had just become tiresome. Everything comes to an end eventually.
Since the demise of Renaldo and the Loaf, Brian Poole (aka Renaldo) has continued to produce music and record, albeit incredibly slowly. His limited output over the past 18 years makes RatL look prolific.
When asked about this meagre output, Brian responded…
"The amount of time for fun hobbies, like making music, is inversely proportional to the pressures of family life…so having a young family and a demanding career meant I didn't get to think about music very much. In 1989, a friend of mine, Kwesi Marles, introduced me to basic MIDI and the use of a computer to make music and this seemed a way to be productive in the snippets of time I could make. I've now constructed a studio based around a PC and Cubase. Compared to the sometimes convoluted way Dave and I had to make our music, the computer appeared magically simple.
But even though I managed to find some time, I found working alone very difficult - I'd not really done it much before- and not having a sounding-board/critic like Dave made decision making torturous. Also the computer doesn't help much either, it's too easy to make a sketch, not finish it and move on to the next thing. Like you can create 10 variants of an idea and not decide on the best…that's where another mind is essential. So the projects I've tended to complete are collaborations - like with Kwesi, Frank Pahl, and Alex Wroten….or specifically motivated projects like the ones with The Scallions, The Moles and The Autons. This being said, all the way along I've been gathering song sketches, some more developed than others…in this I've been lucky over recent years to also get support, encouragement and musical contributions from Nolan Cook (guitarist for the Residents) and Mike Howlett (producer and bassist in Gong).
OK, so the kids are grown up now and I can grab time, but I'm conscious of still being too slow at getting my stuff completed…but I'm getting there."
Since about 2000, Brian seems to have re-adopted his Renaldo moniker for his work….

Here are the current developments in Renaldo's solo career:
See My Friends (2006), currently unreleased

Renaldo performing "See My Friends" March 2006
"In about 1998 I recorded the backing for a cover version of The Kinks' 1965 song 'See My Friends' which was (and still is) one of my favourite tracks from the 60s. At the time, I played my (long) version two local musician friends, Dave Jones and Tony Rollinson.. Dave then worked with me to edit the track down to a manageable length. And there it stayed - incomplete - until in 2005 when Dave and Tony (who were now The Autons) goaded me to finish it off. So The Autons (including then guitarist Leon Auton) played my missing guitar parts and added extra vocals. My backing track was mixed properly at a local studio and the vocals + overdubs added….I think the first time I'd ever recorded in a proper studio environment - sound booths, engineer etc. There's a desire to release it and this may well happen.
Whilst rehearsing with the Autons they suggested I do the song live on stage with them; I'd not graced a stage since 1980 but thought 'what the hell'. So it was performed in June 2005 at a local venue The Wedgewood Rooms at a night called Binary Nation, this performance was captured on video. Since then the Autons have invited me to perform on two other occasions in Nov 2005 and March 2006….each time I've enjoyed the experience more and more."

March 2006
"In March 2006 I was invited to try my hand at live sample mixing at a local venue called Katarins. My good friend Jez, an experienced remixer, set me the challenge of creating the samples and learning the ropes for a live performance in just 7 days. So I recorded a series of rhythmic and vocal loops which with Jez's help were made into files for use in Abelton Live.
After a couple of rehearsals to get a feel for the program, on the evening, I improvised a 15min. set which you could pretty much dance to - it seemed to go down well.
I'm mentioning this here as I found this way of creating music very exciting, especially since I was able to use my own sounds and is a method I'm exploring to devise song structures. It is possible at some point the piece (or a derivative of it) will be released."

Renaldo performing "See My Friends" November 2005

April 2006

Renaldo as Rotcod in The Autons video
"The Autons invited me and my daughter Helen to appear in the promo video for their debut single 'Snakes'. I was (type)cast as a mad doctor and Helen played the part of a casino croupier. At the time of writing this the post-production isn't finished so I've not seen it - but it was a laugh to do…..much leering at a camera with a baby doll that I'd dressed in bubble wrap with odd goggles that sort of look familiar!"
Check out the video here (YouTube)!

Well beyond their sadly brief recording career, Renaldo & the Loaf have always managed to dazzle those who would listen with their boisterously bonkers skewed serenades and generally off-kilter, twisted musical vision...

For those NOT in the know :

- RatL 101 -

ssignment 1: Imagine an amalgamation all of the weirdest cartoon music you ever heard, combined with snippets of childhood rhymes distorted and abstracted beyond recognition by decades (or even centuries) of age, then add an even more twisted version of a vintage bongo-slapping Andy Kaufman as one of your vocalists. One of your other vocalists can only be described as a 'Psycho-Falsetto from the Capital of Nightmareville'. The next is a clownish, surrealist representation of any given male British 60's pop crooner, with multi-instrumental talents. And the funniest part? They're all the same 'guy'.
Students, Meet 'Renaldo M'. The next assignment is to imagine what a crate full of world music albums would sound like if you could overlap and melt all of the vinyl grooves together, and then played the resulting slab on a malfunctioning turntable. Add a dash of primitive sampling and tape manipulation techniques, a few conventional stringed instruments and finally a hand-picked selection of hardware store treasures.
Now say hell-o to Ted 'The Loaf'.
(I honestly haven't a clue which is which here; just pick and choose)
Did I happen to mention that both of our new friends are proficient 'bouzouki' players?
Hmmm... All of this work, and yet we still have only a crude characterization of what this music actually is.

If you were to walk down a busy city street and ask every person you saw whether they had ever heard Renaldo & the Loaf, you would probably end up walking for many days and getting some very odd looks from people as they whirled a 180 and pinwheeled an additional 360 to keep an eye on you, before you ever made a catch. And now, we have a reader's opinion to add: "It is not very likely that the snooty house wives going on their Cancun vacations or to Punta Cana Dominican Republic have ever heard of this group."
Third and Final Assignment: Listen. And listen well.

1. Extracting the Re-Re (excerpt) from: The Elbow is Taboo
2. Leery Looks From Father's Books from: Arabic Yodelling
3. Then At Iona Lanthem from: (the very rare) Olleh Olleh Rotcod

(some MP3s for you, bwah - ha ha ha)

Done? If so, this should essentially alter the way you percieve all music from here on out.
(bwah - ha ha ha)
Now after hearing them first-hand, imagine the looks you would get if you forced the issue and simply walked down that same street with a boombox full of RatL Tunage! Eegads!
They would probably have you locked up & in line for some sort of mental evaluation and high-voltage treatment before you could count to 7/8. -

1 komentar:

  1. Renaldo and the Loaf's debut cassette in Ex con,is spotted on eBay!

    There were only 200 of these,all hand made in 1979.
    It was the original demo sent to Ralph records/ the residents that got em signed.