Always out of step with the prevailing direction of early 80s hardcore, the early material of San Francisco's Flipper had a subversiveness and dark wit that set them apart. Their first full length was the proto-noise rock/sludge of Generic
- characterized by thick, repetitive basslines, sardonic one-liners and Ted Falconi’s feedback bleeding guitar, it remains a distinctive sound and a punk rock classic.
gets far less recognition than the debut, which is unfortunate because it continued the attitude of doing whatever they felt like, yielding probably their best songs in the process. Not as musically one-tone as the debut, the band incorporated a more diverse array of instrumentation (xylophone, sax, piano) in a non-gimmicky fashion while sacrificing little of their intensity. Despite this, the artier leanings and more polished production definitely make it a more accessible, nuanced listen than Generic
on the whole; the relentlessly thudding, tuneless bass “In Life, My Friends” blends perfectly with swirling guitar noise to become oddly catchy despite its ugliness, while the ominous bass intro of the dirge-like “Survivors of the Plague” soon gives way to Falconi’s textured playing. It’s not all great from start to finish, but the uneventful “Talk is Cheap” is at least quickly compensated for by the albums closing one-two punch, two of the best songs here.
Flipper’s second LP takes the blueprint established on Generic
and builds upon it. By the time the band recorded their third proper album, it was 1993, Shatter was dead and the band was a shadow of its former self. Gone Fishin’
shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone with an affinity for its more celebrated predecessor.