Light In the Attic Records’ Web site dropped a bomb on their site last week with the surprising news that the mysterious, long-running band the Residents’ label Ralph Records has closed its doors. A terse announcement on Ralph’s Web site says, “Thanks for everything. It’s been a fun ride.”
One of the longest-lived indies around, Ralph issued the Residents’ outré proto-punk material since the early ’70s, when the band moved from Louisiana to San Francisco (if in fact they ever did — we said they were mysterious). The imprint also released music by guitarists Fred Frith and Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, early Bay Area electro-rock group Tuxedomoon and the art-damaged MX-80 Sound (whose lineup included Marc Weinstein, one of the co-founders of music retail behemoth Amoeba Music). Ralph’s output was distinguished by its striking packaging, which employed the talents of artists like Gary Panter.
In recent years, Ralph has essentially operated as part of the Residents’ mail order operation. The label gave up the ghost in the midst of a busy year that saw the masked and anonymous combo mount a large-scale tour and make an appearance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, curated by the group’s long-time fan Matt Groening.