Flipper | REWIG63 | Released: 28/06/09

Image: public packshot

Sleeve Notes by Steven Blush, American Hardcore

IIt was 1986, the final days of Hardcore. The scene was in its death throes; the writing was on the wall. Even the hardest-working bands, like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys, became shells of their former selves and realized it was time to throw in the towel. Then, like a cruel joke, came Public Flipper Limited.

Flipper did their best to inflict maximum pain and suffering, bumming out punk rockers since 1980 with a slow, dissonant drone and contemptuous fuck-you attitude. Even when crowds begged ‘em to stop, booing and throwing shit, the band took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. For example, their song (I Am) The Wheel could go on for 45 painful minutes or more. Even when the club owner freaked out and the sound man pulled the plug on the PA, they’d soldier on, bloodied but unbowed in their mission to assault and distort. Common concepts like ‘professional entertainment’ or ‘good-time Rock N Roll’ didn’t apply to Flipper. The title Public Flipper Limited parodied Public Image Ltd., which was itself a parody of corporatism. Flipper, like PIL, were a noisy anti-social band, but they were not a corporation. Instead they were a conglomeration of over-the-top characters. Public Flipper Limited came out as a double album on Subterranean, at whose offices the band received ‘Fin Mail’. It provided a great album cover on which to roll joints, up there with the covers of We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N’ Roll and Frampton Comes Alive.

Public Flipper Limited was a classic four-sided concept album but unlike anything fuckin’ Yes or Genesis ever envisioned. The cover art is a board game based on fucked-up Punk Rock tour van experiences. The gatefold sleeve (cover art by Norman Quebedeau after an idea by Ted ‘Captain Concept’ Falconi depicted a touring map and served as the playing board. The playing cards, designed by Will Shatter, said crazy shit like: Promoter buys band dinner, plus 5 points or Public Image Ltd. steals your idea and puts out a generic album four years after yours came out, minus 5 points or Band gets busted for looking weird, minus 10 points, go to New Jersey (referring to their bogus bust in Trenton for wearing spiky wristbands that provoked the cops to consider the band ‘armed and dangerous’). Like everything else with Flipper, this game is a bad scene where you always lose. 

The music itself is classic Flipper mindfuck. The opening New Rules No Rules (live at Target Video, 1980) comes off as young, loud and snotty. The Game’s Got Its Price (a 1981 outtake from the soundtrack to Rick Schmidt?s film Emerald Cities) is one long nag, nag, nag. Sex Bomb (CBGB, New Year’s Eve 1984) sounds like Guy Lombardo dropped the ball. If I Can’t Be Drunk (at On Broadway at 443 Broadway in North Beach, 1982) presents a solid sonic argument against sobriety. The psycho-therapy of Brainwash (at DC’s 9:30 Club in 1982, recorded by Tom Lyle of Government Issue) is a surefire way to kill brain cells. By the end of Life (at Ruthie’s in Berkeley in 83, taped by Gregg Turkington) you’ll beg for the warden to flip the switch. After that, the excruciating Flipper Blues (Toronto 1985) feels like that hot dominatrix trick where you’re maimed and humiliated yet wanting more.  

So pick up the needle, hit the play button, turn on the Ipod, push in the 8-track - go wherever ya gotta go to cop a hot shot of Public Flipper Limited. Think of these 15 songs as Frisco’s finest’s way of shoveling dirt onto Rock’s coffin. If bad vibes were virtues, Flipper would be gods. If drugs were talent, they’d be virtuosos. If Punk was important, we wouldn’t be here. If Satan had a helluva band, it’d be Flipper. If they put out a live album, it’d be Public Flipper Limited.


Image: public packshot

REWIGCD63 | Out now

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