With the spate of reunions these days–including the nostalgia fest last weekend at the Hideout Block Party, which our friend Jessica Hopper nicely reduced to “I would guess the average age of the concert goer was 35-45 years old and wearing their keys on the outside of their pants”–and the ongoing celebration of vintage American hardcore, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that San Francisco’s Flipper is still kicking around. In reconstitued form, that is–original bassist Will Shatter died of a heroin overdose back in 1987. Although Brian Turner of WFMU claims he wasn’t disappointed by them at a recent New York gig, seeing those droney misanthropes all droopy and paunchy isn’t something I personally want to experience.
Still, the group’s 1982 debut, Generic Flipper, remains one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll albums of all time. Back in 1995 I wrote about the singles collection Sex Bomb Baby, but these words certainly apply to this album, which also includes the song “Sex Bomb”:
“’Sex Bomb Baby’ handily asserts the misguided San Francisco foursome’s unalloyed power and innovation. “Sex Bomb” was the quintessential Flipper song–a brilliant reduction of rock ‘n’ roll’s sex-obsessed nihilism. With seven words–“She’s a sex bomb, my baby yeah”–they conveyed the delirious drama of one last-ditch bender, a Dionysian celebration of self-destruction through careless carnal pleasure, booze, and fast cars; the song’s climax–dead silence–is preceded by the screeching sounds of an auto wreck.”
A couple of years later the band released another good-but-not-great album, Gone Fishin’, and soon disintegrated. They reunited in the early 90s as their classic material was getting reissued, but American Grafishy was a piece of shit, which is largely why I have little hope for their current incarnation. According to their MySpace page , the band still lists Shatter as a member, so if he was literally back from the dead that would be something to see. Thankfully, Turner’s post includes seven classics recorded live on the KALX (the University of California-Berkeley radio station) in 1981, when the band was at its peak.