This Ralph Records album features four groups, all from San Francisco. The a-side is shared by The Residents and sci-fi noise merchants Chrome (Damon Edge and Helios Creed), and the b-side by MX-80 Sound and Tuxedo Moon. A stipulation given to all the acts was that each should cover the old standard I Left My Heart (In San Francisco). Apart from The Residents who attacked it with relish, none of the other bands seemed very keen on the idea, Chrome, for example, offering a minute long noise collage.
The four Residents tracks form a piece called The Replacement, the story of a person whose personality is being gradually taken over by that of another. All four tracks are brilliant, especially Is He Really Bringing Roses? with its hilariously dischordant guitar riff and Time's Up, which sounds like it was recorded inside a giant clock. The vinyl is rare now but the four Rez tracks can be found on the orginal ESD CD of Eskimo and, in better quality, on the Residue Deux CD.
Subterranean Modern was Ralph Records' first album involving music from anyone other than The Residents or Snakefinger (with the exception of the very limited work with Schwump). The idea was to widen Ralph's appeal by bringing a greater variety of styles into the label. To this end Ralph had four band submit contributions on the theme of "San Francisco". Each was required to include a version of Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco.
The four bands chosen were The Residents (of course), Chrome, Tuxedomoon, and MX-80 Sound. In the end, only Chrome didn't sign on to Ralph. In another first, Ralph hired Gary Panter to do the cover art rather than have it done by their graphic design branch, Pore-Know Graphics.
The Residents' contribution to the album was a four-part work called The Replacement about a man who's life is being drained away and replaced with that of another man.