Ralph Records was the Residents' original record label, the name coming from the slang phrase for vomiting, "calling Ralph on the porcelain telephone".
Ralph was founded in 1972, shortly after the Residents had moved to San Francisco, when they realized that it was the only entity that would be willing to publish their work. They "unincorporated" themselves as the Residents Uninc. and managed the new company under that name. One of the group's members could draw, so they gave the company a graphic design wing called Porno Graphics, a.k.a. Pore-Know Graphics, a.k.a. Poor No Graphics, a.k.a. Porneaugraphics, etc., and the whole operation was run out of their new two-story building at 18 Sycamore St. in the Mission District. The band named its studio El Ralpho, spoofing Sun Ra who had named his El Saturn.
Ralph's first release was December 1972's Santa Dog (RR-1272), a two-disc single that was mailed out free to about three hundred people—friends, radio stations, and even Richard Nixon and Frank Zappa were sent copies (though Zappa's was returned—he had moved). This was followed by the band's first album, Meet the Residents (RR-0274), which was recorded in 1973 and released in 1974. The band had trouble with distribution and made up 4,000 seven-minute flexi-disks based on the album with which to promote it. The flexi was included in the February 1974 issue of File, a Canadian art magazine.
Over the years Ralph moved to other artists besides the Residents. The first was Schwump, a friend from Portland, Oregon, who in 1976 released a single called "Aphids in the Hall" (RRX-0776). The Residents' best friend and guitarist, Snakefinger, released a single called "The Spot" (RR-7802) in 1978 and went on to release four albums.
Ralph's slogan Buy Or Die! was used as the title of its semiannual mail order catalogs, as well as its sampler 7" EPs.Four of the "Buy or Die!" EPs had cover art by Gary Panter.
In 1976, the Cryptic Corporation took over control of Ralph Records and maintained it until 1985, when it handed it over to sales manager Tom Timony. The Residents left the label in 1987, after which Timony ran it under license and folded it into his own label, TEC Tones, until reverting control to Ralph in 1992. Ralph Records has not really operated since 1987. Since 1992, it has operated as EuroRalphAmerica, the Residents' mail-order company.
In August 2010 Ralph Records announced its closing "due to the general state of the music business and the expanding cost of creating physical products. It's been a great ride. Thanks for all your support over the past 11 years". Notices were sent on Twitter saying that it would sell out their stock of various limited Residents releases and have a sale on all the other items offered online.
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.
The Residents are an American art collective best known for their avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release, Meet the Residents (1974), the group has released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects, and ten DVDs. They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple films. Pioneers in exploring the potential of CD-ROM and similar technologies, the Residents have won several awards for their multimedia projects. Ralph Records, a record label focusing on avant-garde music, was started by the band in 1972.
Meet the Residents is the debut studio album by the American avant-garde music group the Residents, released on April 1, 1974 through Ralph Records.
Beat Happening is an American indie pop band formed in Olympia, Washington in 1982. Calvin Johnson, Heather Lewis, and Bret Lunsford have been the band's continual members. Beat Happening were early leaders in the American indie pop and lo-fi movements, noted for their use of primitive recording techniques, disregard for the technical aspects of musicianship, and songs with subject matters of a childish or coy nature.
Fingerprince is the fourth studio album by the Residents. The album was recorded between 1974–1976 and released in 1977. It was intended to be a three-sided record titled Tourniquet of Roses. Due to expense, the project was abandoned and cut down to a regular two-sided album. The third side was originally released separately in 1979 as Babyfingers. For the CD release of Fingerprince, all of the songs from Babyfingers, which were originally supposed to be part of the record, were included in their original running order. The 1995 Euro Ralph CD reissue of Fingerprince kept the original track order from the vinyl but included the complete Babyfingers as a bonus 3" CD with the album.
Philip Charles Lithman, who performed under the stage name Snakefinger, was an English musician, singer and songwriter. A multi-instrumentalist, he was best known for his guitar and violin work and his collaborations with The Residents.
Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen, later renamed as just Duck Stab, is the fifth studio album by The Residents, released in November 1978. It is named after the first side of the album, Duck Stab!, a seven-song EP released earlier in 1978 featuring shorter songs similar to the first side of Fingerprince. Buster and Glen, the B-side of the album, was intended to follow Duck Stab! presumably in early 1979.
Trout Mask Replica is the third studio album by American rock band Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, released as a double album on June 16, 1969, by Straight Records. The music was composed by Captain Beefheart and arranged by drummer John "Drumbo" French. Combining elements of R&B, garage rock, and blues with free jazz, avant-garde approaches, and other genres of American music, the album is regarded as an important work of experimental music and art rock.
Bizarre Records, self-identified simply as Bizarre, was a production company and record label formed for artists discovered by rock musician Frank Zappa and his business partner/manager Herb Cohen.
The Mothers of Invention were an American rock band from California. Formed in 1964, their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows.
Mary Bozana Timony is an American independent singer-songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, and violist. She has been a member of the bands Helium, Autoclave and Wild Flag, and currently fronts Ex Hex.
Easy Action is the second studio album by the American rock band Alice Cooper, released by Straight Records in March 1970. The title comes from a line from one of the band's favorite films, the musical West Side Story. As with Pretties for You, the band's debut from the previous year, Easy Action was neither a commercial nor critical success. Singles include "Shoe Salesman" and "Return of the Spiders".
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 is a double disc live album by Frank Zappa, spanning from December 10, 1971 to December 23, 1984. It was released in 1989.
Roy Estrada is an American former musician and vocalist, best known for his bass guitar work with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and for having been a founding member of Little Feat, playing on their first two albums.
Orchestral Favorites is an album by Frank Zappa first released in May 1979 on his own DiscReet Records label. The album is instrumental and features music performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra.
Autoclave was an American indie rock band, based in Washington, D.C. They were on local label Dischord Records. Formed in the summer of 1990, the group consisted of vocalist and bassist Christina Billotte, lead guitarist Mary Timony, guitarist Nikki Chapman, and drummer Melissa Berkoff.
The Popguns are an English indie rock band, which played a part in the British jangle pop scene. Originally from Brighton, East Sussex, they formed in 1986 by vocalist Wendy Morgan, guitarists Simon Pickles and Greg Dixon plus bassist Pat Walkington and were joined by Shaun Charman, the former drummer for The Wedding Present in 1988.
BOB were an indie pop band from North London, England, formed in 1985.
Tinsel Town Rebellion is a double live album released by Frank Zappa in May 1981. The album was conceived by Zappa after he scrapped the planned albums Warts and All and Crush All Boxes, and contains tracks that were intended for those albums.
The Old Masters is a box set series by Frank Zappa, released in three volumes on Barking Pumpkin Records from April 1985 to December 1987, consisting of studio and live albums by Zappa and The Mothers of Invention originally released from 1966 to 1976 on other labels, as well as "Mystery Discs" which contained previously unreleased material. The graphics on all three sets was airbrush illustrated by Larry Grossman.