Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This is Real...The Story of The Wipers...Show # 204

The Wipers were a punk band from Portland, Oregon that began playing in 1977. The band was led by Greg Sage (vocals/guitar/main song writer), with Dave Koupaul (bass), and Sam Henry on drums. The original plan was for The Wipers to record 15 LP's (or albums) in ten years without touring or promotion. Greg Sage thought that music was more of an art form than entertainment and that it was something personal for the listener rather than a product you pay for. The band did despite this fact, play live shows. When dealing with independent labels Sage realized that being involved with them involved a great deal of compromise, distorting the original vision Sage had for the band.

Their first single was titled "Better Off Dead" and was released on Sage's own label Trap Records in 1978. The Wipers first album was titled Is This Real? and it came out in 1979. When the album was originally released on Park Avenue Records they insisted that the band record it in a professional studio; It was originally recorded on a 4-track recorder in the band's rehearsal space. The album came out sounding great, but the band did not receive royalties from the album until 2001 when it was re-released after being remastered by Sage himself. The album itself contained 12 songs. "Return of the Rat" is a raging punk song, "Mystery" a pop and punk mix, "Let's Go Away" a descending sounding track, and "D-7" a song that starts off slow and picks up with lyrics reflecting darker subjects. Other great tracks include "Is This Real?", "Tragedy", and " Up Front". The album is viewed as a punk classic now, but when it was originally released it was seen as odd and not fitting in with other styles of music being made at that time.

In 1980, The Alien Boy EP was released. The song "Alien Boy" was actually the seventh track on the bands first album Is This Real? The song was inspired lyrically by American singer/song writer James Chasse. The other three tracks on the EP were actually outtakes from Is This Real? The other tracks featured on the EP were "Image of Man", "Telepathic Love", and "Voices in the Rain". In the 80's the band also developed a large following in Europe. Many of their albums and releases were bootlegged overseas and Is This Real? was released without the bands permission under different titles. It would take them over twenty years to see any money from Is This Real?

Youth of America came next in 1981. The album would feature longer songs (the song "Youth of America" is over ten minutes). The album was also recorded, produced, and engineered by Sage himself. Featuring only six tracks, the album was seen as a departure from the bands earlier sound. It was recieved well in Europe, and not in America when it was originally released. During this time the band would also get a new drummer (Brad Naish), and bassist (Brad Davidson). Over The Edge came in 1983. This album had more of a pop influence than the bands previous efforts. It also got airplay in the USA due to the fact that the band got better distribution by signing to a new record label, Restless records. The songs "Romeo" and "Over the Edge" got quite a bit of airplay on radio station's in the US.

In 1985 came the live album Wipers Live and in 1986 Land of the Lost was released; Drummer Brad Naish would leave the group in 1985 and was replaced by Steve Plouf. Follow Blind was released in 1987, followed by The Circle in 1988. The Circle was originally intended to be the final album by The Wipers. In 1989, Sage announced that following a tour the band would stop playing together. Sage moved to Phoenix, built his own studio and would release his own solo albums. In 1991, he released his second solo album Sacrifice (For Love).  This album followed his first solo album, which was released in 1985 while Sage was still with The Wipers. It was called Straight Ahead.

In 1991, The Wipers started receiving recognition from bands of the Seattle music scene, most notably Nirvana. Kurt Cobain cited The Wipers as being a big influence on the band. Cobain asked Sage to open for them on their tours on a number of occasions, but Sage did not accept the offers. Sage gave a few reasons for not opening for Nirvana. One being that he never really liked touring, another being that he did not have a bassist to learn all the songs he wanted to play. In 1993 a Wipers tribute album was released. Fourteen Songs for Greg Sage and The Wipers featured "Return of the Rat" covered by Nirvana; Nirvana also covered the song "D-7" for a BBC Session. The Wipers also influenced the likes of Mudhoney, The Melvins, and Dinosaur Jr. The Wipers released three more albums in 1993 Silver Sail, in 1996 The Herd, and in 1999 Power in One.

In 2001 Sage released a Wipers boxset on his own newly started Zeno label. The set included the first three Wipers albums (Is This Real?, Youth of America, and Over The Edge) remastered with a plethora of bonus tracks. If you are interested in The Wipers this is the best collection to get. Several Wipers albums have been re-issued without Sage's permission, but this is the ultimate collection for early Wipers material anyway. Greg Sage is a perfect example of an independent artist who had a devout underground following, but never received the proper mainstream notoriety that he deserved. He still makes albums. In 2002, he released another solo album called Electric Medicine. For more information on the band visit The Wipers Homepage or Sage's Label Zeno Records.

There is also a fan site out there that you can visit called The
Play List:

1. Generation X - Wild Youth
2. Adverts - Bored Teenagers
3. Ramones - I Just Want To Have Something To Do
4. Dishrags - I Don't Love You
5. Private School - Science Fiction
6. Female Hands - Divided By Three
7. Smugglers - Revenge
8. Vibrators - London Girls
9. Alternative TV - Action Time Vision
10. The Prefects - Things in General
11. Meat Puppets - Get On Your Own (1980 Demo)
12. Buzzcocks - Promises
13. Cardboard Brains - Out Out Out
14. Spiral Scratch - Faith
15. Demics - The 400 Blows
16. Lou Reed - I'm So Free
17. Albert Hammond Jr. - The Boss Americana
18. Albert Hammond Jr. - In My Room
19. The Wipers - Mystery
20. The Wipers - Can This Be
21. The Wipers - Over The Edge
22. The Wipers - Romeo
23. The Rapture - Notes
24. Caesars - It's Not the Fall That Hurts
25. Sloan - Cheap Champagne
26. Sloan - Down in the Basement
27. Cheap Trick - Auf Wiedersehen

Related Videos:

Over The Edge (Live 1983)
Return of the Rat

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