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The Triangular Album
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Released

22 November 1968

Recorded

30 May – 14 October 1968 EMI and Trident Studios, London

Genre

Rock

Length

1:26:00

Label

"Banana Records"

Record

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Preceded By

Tragical History Tour (1967)

Succeeded By

Yellow Submarine Sandwich (1969)

The Triangular Album

The Triangular Album is a 1968 album released by The Rutles, and the first released under the Rutle Corps label (although the company is listed on the sleeve as "Banana Records").

More notably, The Triangular Record goes down in record records as the only record to be produced in a triangular shape, hence its title. This was considered shocking and innovative to the general public and was labeled by critics as "literally transformative," although in some early editions this did lead to technical glitches.

Most of the music featured on The Triangular Album was written (and in some cases recorded) during the band's visit to India, where they took part in a Ouija board course with Arthur Sultan. While other guests were quite cynical about the "board tapping," the quartet found it spiritually transcendental. Literally, it was their connections with spirits that defined the album's direction.

Exiled from their high-production, expensive equipment (and their tea) The Triangular Album proved to be a much more thoughtful, laid-back, and well-hydrated album when compared to the triumphant Sgt. Rutter's. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "Unfinished Words", Nasty's tribute to the art of songwriting itself.

It is additionally propositioned by some in the band that it was the shape of the Ouija "Planchette" which inspired the shape of the album. This is brought into question by the early designs of the album, which contained many-sided objects, but the connection is worth noting.

The album was generally liked by audiences and critics, although some criticized the topical tunes for failing to find any agenda. Stanley J. Krammerhead III, Jr wrote of the album:

“Sparsley unwonted for this gentile ensemble, the strains executed have a sparticulous and irrefragable agitational idiosyncrosis which will incontestably percolate into the formulae of pedestrian tablature. Yet their hermeneutical impotence speculates a bifurcation from the veridical existence. In brief, one covets a postulatorial tribulation as whetted and acuminated as the long-play's periphery.”
―Stanley J. Krammerhead III, Jr

Background[]

In the late-60s, there was a large feeling of innovation. This is often considered the peak of their innovations. The group released this album, along with its many strange tracks, to a large audience.

Original Design[]

One of the original designs.

Kevin Wongle was a record designer in London, and had designed the album's strange exterior. He met them during the production of Ouch! and took several photos, finding them amazing to be around. These photos would be used as the basis for the album, several years later.

Originally, it was not planned to have the record be triangular. The earliest known prototype was a perfect-octagon. The image in the center of the record was originally one taken from a toilet bowel that the four looked down at. One other designs considered included a parallelogram and an isosceles trapezoid.

The original, untitled version of the album (with the sleeve and without). While the band intended for this to be called "The Rutles," fans chose another name. "The Shite Album."

Interestingly, the first version released was not a triangular design. Instead, a very limited, test run in the UK only featured the band's name (on the record itself, the center of which was viewable from the outside) and was an oddly-shaped hexagon of sorts. This version was known to technical glitches, with many copies actually missing key portions of songs, and there were mass returns. While the intention was for the album to be named just The Rutles, fans soon gave it a different nickname: The Shite Album (inspired by both the quality and how the center looked like a flushing toilet if spun fast enough[1]).

Salman Rushdie, who was attending Cambridge University in 1968, was one of those who managed to get an early copy:

“I remember going to the record store and buying this thing... It was selling so fast that they were selling it from the cardboard boxes, they weren't even unpacking it. It was an amazing phenomenon. And I went back thinking, after having been such a great admirer of Sgt. Rutter, you know, 'can this possibly be any good, you know, will it be a true successor?' And of course, it was shite.”
―Salman Rushdie[2]

Because of the recall, the non-triangular "Shite Album" edition is the rarest Rutle record to ever be printed, with most unsold copies being buried in the desert in New Mexico. However, due to being so hated, it rarely sells for more than $80 at auctions.

Triangular True[]

Stig O'Hara later admitted that the similarity to a Ouija planchette was a core reason he preferred the final design.

Another test run was then done with a triangular version with an elongated trip, which led to multiple stabbing incidents. Finally, the album was made in its correct triangular shape in time for October 1968.

Some note that the shape of the album is very similar to a Ouija planchette, notable as the band had been spending time with Ouija-specialist Arthur Sultan at the time of writing most of the album. Stig O'Hara (in one of his notorious, talkative 1990s interviews) later noted that it was indeed something he took note of when shown the final design.

Tom Hanks, Rutles fan, analyzes The Triangular Album.

When the final Triangular version finally came out to mass markets, it was an immense success. Many fans, including celebrity Tom Hanks, said that they "couldn't get enough of them." Fans also were shocked of the album's shape, because "most records were round." Hanks specifically reported rarely ever listening to it, because he "just watched it going around the record."

To this day, no one has ever attempted to make another triangular-shaped album, because the Rutles had done it, less that they had done it well, but simply because they had done it.

Track listing[]

Side One[]

Taking inspiration from the early design of the "Shite Album" cover, the Triangular Album 50th-anniversary edition only featured the band's name.

The Compact Disc version of the album.

  1. We've Arrived! (And to Prove It We're Here)
  2. Let's Be Natural
  3. Unfinished Words
  4. Blah Bluh Bleh, Blih Blyh Bloh
  5. Wild Bunny Rum Cake
  6. Fallen Archangel
  7. While My Piano Gently Screams
  8. Sadness Is A Cold Phaser Gun

Side Two[]

  1. Another Day
  2. I'm So Awake
  3. Whackbird
  4. Pugs
  5. Apollo Squirrel
  6. Untitled (as of today)
  7. Why Don't We Get Naked and Have A Special Hug In The Middle Of New York?
  8. I Quill
  9. Jolliet

A poster was included with certain releases of this album

Side Three[]

  1. Death Day
  2. Theyr Reds
  3. Barry's Mature Mum
  4. Everybody's Got Something To Show Except Me And My Chimpanzee
  5. Dirty Deborah
  6. Pelter Yelter
  7. Bong, Bong, Bong

Side Four[]

  1. Evolution 1
  2. Money High
  3. Shuffle Truffle
  4. Wry, Baby, Wry
  5. Evolution Number Ten
  6. Good Afternoon

See Also[]

Footnotes[]

  1. In The Rutles 2, Kevin Wongle states that "We later discovered when the album was spinning, this center images looked like turds going down a toilet."
  2. An extended interview from the DVD bonuses of The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch.
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