Saturday, December 13, 2008

Flipper - Blown Chunks

Flipper was founded by former members of the Sleepers and Negative Trend. Founding member and original vocalist Ricky Williams was fired from the band before any recordings were made because he was deemed too messed up to remain in the band. The name is often seen to be a reference to thalidomide babies, such as the one featured on the cover of their early "Love Canal" single . In fact, the band was named Flipper after Ricky Williams' curious habit of naming all of his pets "Flipper", regardless of their species.
Flipper made their first recordings available in late 1979 via the SF Underground 7" compilation series released through Steve Tupper's newly-formed Subterranean Records. In 1981, a 7" comprising "Love Canal/Ha Ha Ha" followed, and the original lineup made two full-length studio albums on Subterranean, 1982's Generic and a 1984 follow up Gone Fishin'. Flipper's music was very shambolic and noisy, and often considered "slow" for a punk band of the time. In many early shows, the band had half the audience on stage with them singing backup vocals, and encouraged horn players to join them for their anthem, "Sex Bomb"; the crowding on stage 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. 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"). Some[who?]say that 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
Two more singles on Subterranean followed, "Brainwash"/"Sex Bomb" and "Old Lady That Swallowed The Fly"/"Get Away" before Album (also known as Generic Flipper). Their 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!" Similarly, "Sex Bomb" is a seven minute track with only one lyric, "She's a sex bomb, my baby, yeah.", intertwined with a raucous yet melodic musical interplay. The original release of the "Sex Bomb" single featured individually hand-made covers.
The follow-up studio album in 1984, Gone Fishin, was even darker and artier than the first LP. It 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. The van, along with figures representing the band and their equipment could be cut out and folded with Subterranean offering extra covers through a small mail order fee.
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. The performance included material from all phases of the band's existence thus far. John Lydon's Public Image Ltd was widely accused in the U.S. of stealing the cover art and concept of Flipper's album, Album. Consequently, Flipper entitled their 1986 double live album, Public Flipper Ltd. The album unfolded into a board game complete with a cutout spinner and game cards with Subterranean once again providing extra covers through mail order.
The original lineup began splintering after a long debauched period of touring, and singer and core member Will Shatter eventually died on December 9th, 1987 of a drug overdose after forming A3I (Any Three Initials, a punk outfit whose title mocked the prevalence of acronymic band names). Subterranean packaged the band's most popular recordings in a greatest hits collection titled "Sex Bomb Baby" released in 1987. The cassette edition and later CD rerelease featured three bonus tracks.--

1. Way of the World
2. The Lights, The Sound, The Rhythm, The Noise
3. Shed No Tears
4. Love Canal
5. Ha Ha Ha
6. In Your Arms
7. Life is Cheap
8. In Life My Friend
9. Get Away
10. Life
11. Sacrifice
12. If I Can't Be Drunk
13. Ice Cold Beer

** year - 2.001
** Label - ROIR
** Home-page -
** Buy - Interpunk

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toxik boys said...

Flipper (si son los que creo) hacen un hardcore punk bien fiestero, ironico y critico en las letras. Los temas son breves y no aburren nunca.

On my site I've post anithing of this band. Really great post bro!

Nazz Nomad said...

I think that it's the coolest thing ever to be "too messed up" to be in Flipper!