Flipper - American Grafishy !
Flipper - American Grafishy
Def American Records 1993 CD
01. Someday [4:18]
02. Flipper Twist [4:47]
03. May The Truth Be Known [2:49]
04. We're Not Crazy [3:10]
05. Fucked Up Once Again [5:31]
06. Exist Or Else [5:16]
07. Distant Illusion [4:27]
08. Telephone [3:18]
09. It Pays To Know [4:50]
10. Full Speed Ahead [3:37]
Flipper's music was very shambolic and noisy, and oft considered "slow" for a punk band of the time. In many early shows, the band had half the audience onstage with them singing backup vocals, and encouraged horn players to join them for their anthem, "Sex Bomb" -- and the crowding onstage usually knocked the stringed instruments out of tune. Guitarist Ted Falconi installed spikes in the head of his guitar to help prevent this, but blaring, out-of-tune dissonance became part of the band's signature sound.
Flipper was often as strongly in league with conceptual art and atonal music as with rock or punk. They were originally known in San Francisco as a band that 'everybody hated,' and who bombarded the city with graffiti far more than they actually played. Years after the band's demise, its spray-painted dead fish logos were still visible in San Francisco (although signs on the city's Clipper Street have since been reverted from "Flipper Street"). (Other notable places to find their fish logo include the Berlin Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, and the bathroom at the Vatican in Rome.) Later on, grunge bands would admit to being influenced by Flipper, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana who wore the band's t-shirt in prominent TV appearances and photos, and The Melvins who in 1992 covered the song Sacrifice on their album Lysol and released a 5" vinyl single of two Flipper covers (Love Canal/Someday).
Flipper's charm as a band lies in their ability to upset audiences, while attracting their undivided attention and curiosity at the same time. Their first single, Love Canal/Ha Ha Ha, was widely derided, not only for its offensive cover art, but its bizarre sound, and yet sold many copies in the underground. This, in brief, was the band's 'concept'; to be bad in ways that no band had ever been bad before. However, in true Flipper fashion, they even failed to fail, and their audience continued to grow as their outlandish approach appealed to those seeking something different.
Two more singles on Subterranean followed, "Brainwash/Sex Bomb Baby" and "Old Lady That Swallowed The Fly/ Get Away" before Album (also known as Generic Flipper). The debut LP sees the drone and blare molded into startlingly effective songs, with a lyrically bleak outlook, but humane vulnerability in the vocals, and flashes of genuine musicianship. It is widely considered a classic album of this era. The mayhem contained on the disc is infectious as Will Shatter repeats "Life! Life! Life is the only thing worth living for!”
The follow-up studio album in 1984 "Gone Fishin" was even darker and artier than the first LP featured the disorientating opening track "The Lights, The Sound, The Rhythm, The Noise", the haunting "Survivors of the Plague" and the decrying of the war machine in the song "Sacrifice". The multi-colored delivery step van pictured on the cover was also where Ted Falconi lived when the group was not on the road.
In 1984, the ROIR cassette label released a live Flipper document of a CBGB's performance entitled "Blow'n Chunks" that became available on CD in 1990, and goes in and out of print. A 2001 reissue includes four outtakes from the live sessions.John Lydon's Public Image Ltd was widely accused in the US of stealing the cover art and concept of their album, Album, and was subsequently repaid by Flipper, who entitled their 1986 double live album, Public Flipper Ltd.
The original lineup began splintering after a long debauched period of touring, and singer and core member Will Shatter eventually died in 1987 of a drug overdose. Subterranean packaged the band's most popular recordings in a vinyl only greatest hits collection entitled "Sex Bomb Baby" released in the spring of 1988.
By the early 90's, the band resurfaced with a new single on Subterranean called "Someday/Distant Illusion" and began performing again. Bruce Loose had become a far gone heroin addict by ths time and stole the band's master tapes from San Francisco independent label Subterranean's warehouse and with DePace sold them to powerful Los Angeles based music industry figure Rick Rubin. Rubin used his attorneys to quash Subterranean's claim to the music and soon re-released Album Generic Flipper on American Recordings and the singles compilation Sex Bomb Baby on his "Infinite Zero" label. Even with Henry Rollins onboard as the latter label's A&R, the label soon went defunct and by 1997 Flipper's groundbreaking music went largely out of print.The band continued playing from 1990 to 1995, pursuing a more straighforward rock sound and attempt to cash in on their notoreity. In 1992, the new lineup released "American Grafishy" on Rick Rubin's "Def American" imprint, their only recording that is still consistently & legally available. Their demise was again forthcoming due to another death by heroin overdose, this time that of replacement bass player John Dougherty.Loose once commented to SF Weekly, on the band's history as "like Spinal Tap, except the bass player keeps dying".
In 2002 Bruce Loose, father of a teenager, now using a cane to get around, resurfaced with a one off gig played at Berkeley's 924 Gilman Street space as "Not Flipper".He is not making music with either the reclusive Ted Falconi or drummer Steve De Pace. DePace is reportedly shopping Flipper stories to potential publishers, lives in the L.A. area working in the animation industry.The original members of Flipper, barring the late Will Shatter, reunited to support CBGBs on August 26, 2005 and August 28, 2005. Singer, Bruce Loose, appeared on stage with a cane and heart monitors.
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