Like, Old Stuff?

Flipper: 'Generic Flipper'
March 13, 1997

by Bryan Shelly -- Senior Staff Writer

All things flow from Flipper. Everything and everyone that came before Flipper merely set the stage for the band, and everyone who came after was left to interpret the band's undeniable genius. Kurt Cobain liked to brag about how Nirvana would play Flipper's dorky and monotonous "Sex Bomb" for an hour during shows, just to piss people off. I would like to introduce Album -- Generic Flipper, the band's testament, as evidence of their genius.

Upon first listen, Generic Flipper appears to be the most wretched misuse of a guitar in the history of Western music, and no doubt 90 percent of the world will retain that impression for all eternity. Generic Flipper is a constant lurch of plodding two-chord guitar riffs, a double bass attack that summons forth the demons of early metal, absolutely tuneless vocal parts, and distortion, distortion, distortion. The combination of these elements creates a sonic ugliness that finds a perfect counterpart in Flipper's lyrics. "There are entrails spilled on the floor," yells Bruce Lose, "but that's the way of the world."

So why would any sane person not trade in Generic Flipper? Well, if we can adjust our expectations and hear Flipper on its own terms, we'll start to discover Flipper's charms. Generic Flipper is actually a concept album about life at the outset of the Reagan years, and the dark music reflects the darker times. Flipper knows what it's like to be way down, and when the listener feels the same, the ugliness just fits. "Ever want to cry so much you want to die?" Lose asks on "Ever." Repeated listens to Flipper's sludgy drone will reveal melodies that are actually hummable and perversely funky.

Flipper can also boast their influential role on grunge as much as any other band on the planet, (as do the Melvins, Mudhoney, and every other loud, slow, flannel-sporting rip off). Among Flipper's earliest fans was young Kurt, who considered Flipper one of his biggest influences. Nirvana's In Utero sounds almost like a well-produced Generic Flipper, and anyone who enjoyed any part of that album would be well-advised to give Flipper a try.

Like most products of the sea, Flipper is an acquired taste that some ignoramuses will always hate; however, those with a little patience and an appetite for destruction, slow tempos, and distortion will get a rise out of Generic Flipper.

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