Over The Edge
June 6, 2010 9:20 PM   Subscribe

The Wipers were a tight and catchy post-punk band founded in Portland in 1977. Today they're best known for covers by The Vivian Girls and Nirvana (Return of the Rat, and esp. D7 - studio, live 1 2 3 4). But the originals are pretty interesting too. John Peel said of their first album "Is It Real": " 'It is one of punk's great albums by perhaps the most unappreciated band of all time'."

wiki. Greg Sage's dad owned record pressing equipment and he made albums for friends in high school. He originally hoped to never appear live, and had a thing against videotaping, so live footage (start at 1:30) is rare, esp. early on.

Early Wipers (tight, short, surfy, 77-81). These are album audio:
Up Front - Voices in the Rain - Born With A Curse - Image Of Man - Potential Suicide - D7 - Return of the Rat - Window Shop For Love - Alien Boy

Middle stage wipers (81-92) more "psychedelic," longer songs, gloomier. These are live video:
Over The Edge, 1983, Mistaken ID, 1983 audio, Pushing The Extreme 1992, Nothing Left To Lose 1992, D7 live video in 1992 w/ glitch at start, So Young 1992, What Is? 1992, Doom Town 1992 - 1984 live audio - studio audio, Youth Of America (Melvins cover), When It's Over 1984 audio live.
posted by msalt (23 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I was surprised to not find an FPP on the Wipers. Apologies if I missed one.
posted by msalt at 9:24 PM on June 6, 2010

The Wipers -- one of my favorite bands, especially the album Follow Blind. Thanks for posting this. "Underappreciated" is a very apt word for them.
posted by blucevalo at 9:37 PM on June 6, 2010

Great band, and strangely much more popular even in eastern Europe than America.

I have no affiliation with them, but in case anyone wants to buy their music, check out their own website, which has much better prices than any other place, and charges only for exact shipping charges. You can get the first three albums in a triple CD box set (with 27 bonus tracks) for only $17. Some of their later material is out-of-print, but they are offering high-quality CD-Rs, with artwork, for only $6. This includes my favorite too, Follow Blind.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gosh thanks msalt. That is an important band. Don't forget the covers.

My favorite Wipers cover: "No One Wants an Alien" by Honey.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:21 PM on June 6, 2010

the first three albums blow your mind.
posted by rainperimeter at 10:21 PM on June 6, 2010

The Wipers are fucking awesome. The first three albums (at the very least) are absolutely essential...buy the incredibly inexpensive box set which contains them, or buy them on the recent lavish (but still reasonably priced) vinyl reissues, or do what I did and buy all of the above.

But no Wipers post can be complete without a link to Portland wrestler Beauregarde's "Testify" (1971), featuring Sage (aged 17) on lead guitar. Sage & Beauregarde are still friends to this day.

Sage interviews tend to be really enjoyable to, whether he's talking shop/gear (pdf), or his DIY ethos.

God, I would kill to see Sage/some iteration of Wipers play their classic stuff live. I can't think of any reunion I'd want to see more. ATP should work on that, but from what I understand Sage will never have any interest in doing it.
posted by anazgnos at 11:07 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome link. What's the story on no reunion? Sam Henry's still playing around Portland, apparently.
posted by msalt at 11:47 PM on June 6, 2010

So why the fuck did I only start listening to these guys just now? One a y'all needs to punch me through the internet.
posted by furiousthought at 12:38 AM on June 7, 2010

perhaps the most unappreciated band of all time

Oh yeah, they're up there. The Wipers fit easily in the "your favorite band's favorite band" pantheon. Easy to love in any context, though; they're just awesome to listen to. Thanks for the post!
posted by churl at 12:56 AM on June 7, 2010

Don't forget the covers

AKA 14 Songs For Greg Sage, not just the many Wipers covers on Youtube. Good call!

I especially like Poison Idea's version of "Up Front" (couldn't find it on the interwebs though). I think Sam Henry of the original lineup was playing with Napalm Beach (another great unknown Portland band) on that cover of "Potential Suicide," too.
posted by msalt at 1:24 AM on June 7, 2010

"Nothing Left to Lose" is one of my fave songs. Thanks for the post, Salt!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:11 AM on June 7, 2010

If you spent any time in Tempe, AZ in the early-mid 90s, you probably saw Greg Sage hanging out around the Mill/University area a lot. He basically dressed like a taller, more gangly, grey-haired Mary Stuart Masterson in "Some Kind Of Wonderful"; he cut a very distinctive figure.

I don't know if he was doing any music at the time, certainly he wasn't releasing much of anything and he didn't seem to be involved in the local music scene in any way that I could tell--he had a label, but I don't know that anyone local was ever on it; I never saw him at local shows. I always though that was sort of weird and insular.
posted by padraigin at 4:33 AM on June 7, 2010

Here's a better link to their home page (the one above is a dead end)
posted by Camofrog at 4:36 AM on June 7, 2010

Going to college in Portland OR in the early 90s was probably the only way to really be exposed to the Wipers non stop. They were on every jukebox in the city and I know Is This Real from back to front. And it rules.
posted by josher71 at 5:27 AM on June 7, 2010

Youth of America is one of the best albums ever recorded, imo. The Wipers were way ahead of their time.

It's really a shame the CD rereleases are the tinniest "digitally remastered!" recordings I have ever heard. I'm sure the original tapes weren't exactly of the finest fidelity, but yikes.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:01 AM on June 7, 2010

Also: How awesome is it that I was introduced to The Wipers, The Germs, Beat Happening, Lou Reed, and John Peel all via the same EP, which was on bubblegum pink vinyl and featured an image of slashed wrists on the cover and was the first record I ever bought? Thanks, Courtney!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2010

What's the story on no reunion?

As one of the interviews linked above, Sage is semi-legendary for saying no to perfectly good money when it goes against what he wants to do, as well as being generally uninterested in "looking backwards" or that sort of thing. I don't know that he's even played out regularly since the early 90s or so. I don't know that there's been any effort or interest in a reunion to begin with, but he seems exceedingly likely to turn it down if there was.
posted by anazgnos at 7:28 AM on June 7, 2010

One might also want to check out "History of Portland Punk" which features LOTEK - WIPERS - SMEGMA - RUBBERS - NEOBOYS - CLEAVERS - STIPHNOYDS - BOP ZOMBIES - SADO-NATION - NAPALM BEACH.
posted by wcfields at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2010

My favorite thing about the History of Portland Punk album (originally it was 10/21/79, right?) is that the Styphnoids political songs were attacking JIMMY CARTER. It seemed very sweet and naive 5 years later under Reagan.
posted by msalt at 10:37 AM on June 7, 2010

Great band, and strangely much more popular even in eastern Europe than America.

As I just walked into a vegan/vegetarian punk bar in East Cologne about two hours ago (for the first time in my life), the guy behind the bar was wearing a Wipers T-Shirt.

No shit, no lie.

Life is funny like this.
posted by gcbv at 12:12 PM on June 7, 2010

Just listened to their best-of... Awesome stuff. Ta for putting me onto them!
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 3:56 PM on June 7, 2010

Gah, I've just realised that for some reason I misread the intro as saying 'Portugal', not 'Portland', and have been telling my friends "I've been listening to a great band from Portugal..."
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 6:02 AM on June 8, 2010

A favourite of mine is the instrumental Our Past Life, which sounds like a prototype of the Foo Fighters' best (by far) song: Everlong.
posted by mattgeeknz at 10:07 PM on June 11, 2010

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