Flipper | REWIGCD61 | Released: 29/06/09
Sleeve Notes by Krist Novoselic
In 1983 I was a maladjusted 18 year old. I don’t need to go into why I felt that way - especially in writing a tribute to a work of music that means so much to so many. But I felt alienated from the world and that mindset compelled me to look for something to connect with.
That same year I met Buzz Osborne, another resident of the Grays Harbor area of Washington. He was an outsider who held little patience for the world. Buzz was a true believer in Punk rock. So much that he was an evangelist of sorts; spreading the good news about this music and the new life it would give to those who chose to believe.
However, true believers were hard to cultivate in the community. Most had built in prejudices regarding Punk, New Wave, Hardcore or anything you wanted to call the antiestablishment music of the early 1980’s. I once witnessed Buzz try to spread the gospel to one person who outright rejected it. They said, “I know that shit,” they then started singing with spastic convulsions, “I wanna fuck my mom, I wanna fuck my mom!!!!!!”
Buzz and I walked away and he laughed at that quite sick misperception. I laughed too because I knew Punk music was very sophisticated. And there was one group that proved this - it were the gods themselves - FLIPPER! The band’s lyrics summed up the incident perfectly, “There are eyes that cannot see, and fingers that cannot touch - That’s The Way Of The World!”
I was already a convert to Punk but I didn?’ immediately embrace Flipper. Buzz had lent me his copy of Generic and I gave it a spin. My first impression was how raw it sounded. It was muddy and sounded like a live show recording. It was a far cry from the slick production with the heavy metal music of the period. Commercial music of the preceding 20 years had that gloss to it. Generic didn’t.
The riffs were repetitive and the guitar an ambient wash. The drums had a cool back beat dripping with reverb. The bass riffs were a haunting base for the mostly bleak lyrics.
I listened with curiosity then let it go.
I came back the next day and gave it a turn. Same impression.
On the third day, with that third listen - my mind opened and the sheer beauty and brilliance poured in. “I saw you, I saw you shine!!” It hit me like a ton of bricks. The sonic / psyche barrier had toppled and I found myself on another side. It was an epiphany. Here was Flipper with this opus - far off the map of mainstream sensibilities but no less part of the pantheon of rock music.
I knew Sabbath’s Vol. 4, Zeppelin’s 4th and the other monuments to the riff, and here was the next level - Generic by Flipper.
American Hardcore of the early 1980’s was more than just music. The movement revolved around personal and political alienation as this Flipper lyric from the song Ever, exclaims, Ever wish the human race didn’t exist, then realize you’re one too!
Flipper came out of the San Francisco scene. The Bay Area is a long time center of radical leftist politics. These sensibilities made it through to the various bands’ music. Unlike many of their local contemporaries, Flipper didn’t overtly denounce authority and the politics of the day. They pushed back with statements that were timeless and universal.
Shed No Tears rejoices in fallen authority while also delving into the phenomenon of idolatry. At the time I first heard the song I would have never imagined how much someone’s suicide and martyrdom would be part of my life. The song goes, No sorrow, no pity, no, no crying no loss. But there is sorrow, and the pity is the great artists who have passed namely Will Shatter and Kurt Cobain.
No, no crying no loss because life is the only thing worth living for! LIFE, LIFE, LIFE!!!
Generic is deep. It can be bleak but there’s a sense of humor too. Sex Bomb Baby Yeah! - Flipper romp with abandon, closing a work that’s a milestone of rock music. A work of such stature produced offspring. Generic left a mark on Cobain too. He took that work and mixed it with his talent for pop hooks and thus Nirvana’s In Utero was born.
If you haven’t heard Generic before, and if it does not grab you right away, give it a few spins and it could very well creep up on you and knock you off your feet. If it does so - or not - that’s the way of the world!