With contents dating from around 1969 to 1970, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger is one of their earliest known recordings. Along with the many other tapes from the years prior to the release of Santa Dog in 1972, it is not acknowledged by the group as being part of their official discography and has never been officially released in any format.
The tape known as The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger represents the group's first recorded use of a number of motifs that would be featured in many of their later works as The Residents.
With a length of 38 minutes, the tape includes their first known recorded attempt at covering The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" and "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" by The Swingin' Medallions (both tracks would later recur as thematic elements throughout the group's later career as The Residents). Other covers attempted on The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger include versions of George Gershwin's "Summertime", The Beatles' "Let It Be", and "The House of the Rising Sun" (a traditional folk song popularized in 1964 by The Animals).
The actual title of this reel (if it ever had an official title, or can be considered an "album" proper) is in question, but the tape features a track of the same title, with a reprise towards the end of its second half, and with Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor has been referred to occasionally by The Cryptic Corporation as being one of "four albums" recorded by the group prior to becoming The Residents.
Despite this, Uncle Willie, the former President of UWEB, wrote in his book Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide to the Residents that while searching through the band's archives, he came across "a suite named 'The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger'", but not an album per se.
As the reel mostly consists of loose, improvisational jams and studio banter, there is no definitive track listing, as a number of the tracks do not have known titles. However, known songs featured on the tape include:
- Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards)
- Let It Be (Lennon-McCartney)
- Cherry, Cherry (Diamond)
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger
- Summertime (Gershwin)
- There's The Place For Me
- House of the Rising Sun (traditional)
- The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger (Reprise)
- When Johnny Comes Marching Home (traditional)
- Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love) (Smith/Vetter)
- Ecological Blues
For decades the existence of The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger and Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor were known to fans only through a mention in Matt Groening's 1979 article "The True Story of The Residents", as well as occasional references in Ralph Records promotional material in the mid-to-late 1970s.
The existence of these reels was confirmed when a number of short snippets of tracks from both were released by an anonymous fan, who had attained them through unknown means. Both reels later became available on a limited series of bootleg CD-Rs, though it is said that what has been circulated as Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor does not represent the entire tape.
It has been rumored that these two reels were stolen from the band's archives by a former associate and later made available for profit, and as with their other early demo tapes and reels, The Residents and The Cryptic Corporation do not approve of their availability. To date, only an excerpt of the title track has been released officially from this tape (on the ERA B474 and Greatest Hiss compilations).
Tracks dating from the same era but which do not feature on this tape can be found on ERA B474 and Greatest Hiss, suggesting the existence of further demo reels otherwise unknown to the wider public.