Wipers


Is This Real?

Wipers - Is This Real? ©1979 Park Ave.
1. Return Of The Rat
2. Mystery
3. Up Front
4. Let's Go Let's Go Away
5. Is This Real
6. Tragedy
7. Alien Boy
8. D-7
9. Potential Suicide
10. Don't Know What I Am
11. Window Shop For Love
12. Wait A Minute
13. Image Of Man
14. Telepathic Love
15. Voices In The Rain

Some people consider this to be their "soundtrack" of their life; others see this as a wildly influential album that would serve to inspire a whole generation of Northwest rockers. Most, on the other hand, haven't a clue who the Wipers even are. Led by the enigmatic Greg Sage (whose unique guitar style can be attributed to the fact that he designed many of his amplifiers and effects) and featuring a very individualized approach to punk (think of Wire meeting a lonesome coyote on the high desert and you will at least have a hint), the Wipers first full length album is a very interesting look at one of the longer running outfits in underground rock. Personally I feel there is a certain feel of amateurism when compared to Sage's later works; however, it is still chock full of great moments and songs. Some, such as "Mystery" and "Window Shop for Love", are quite poppy in approach. And all feature the tasteful and powerful Sage guitar work. Definitely recommended listening for anyone exploring the roots of the Northwest music scene.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Youth Of America

Wipers - Youth Of America ©1981 Restless
1. No Fair
2. Youth Of America
3. Taking Too Long
4. Can This Be
5. Pushing The Extreme
6. When It's Over

A funny thing happened long before grunge was ever dreamed of. This Portland, Oregon, band brewed up a lot of the basic elements for what would become a cottage industry in the northwest. While Wipers didn't really have that sludge pattern, their usage of different guitar effect (leader Greg Sage designs his own effects equipment), slightly askew approach to pop songwriting, and very exceptional lead guitar playing made them a very unique item that influenced many future superstars. Sage's emotive wail (not harsh or high pitched, but very moving) matched with the forceful rhythmic undercurrent was something to behold and this album may be one of their high points. "No fair" drags you right in with a subtle intro that thunders right into what made this band so darned good. "Youth of America" is another classic, where Sage shows off his great leadwork. And the album closes out with the nearly symphonic "When It's Over", which uses completely original guitar tone to blow the listener away. You will never have heard guitar played like this before, especially with such melody. A classic no one knows about.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Follow Blind

Wipers - Follow Blind ©1987 Restless
1. Follow Blind
2. Someplace Else
3. Any Time You Find
4. The Chill Remains
5. Let It Slide
6. Against The Wall
7. No Doubt About It
8. Don't Belong To You
9. Losers Town
10. Coming Down
11. Next Time

The Wipers' 1987 LP found them heading in an even more moody, melancholic direction than before, and indeed, the first four tracks on this album are haunting, atmospheric masterpieces. Dark and gloomy and loaded with Greg Sage's unmistakable guitar tone and trademark soloing style, these songs are perfect for listening to while meditating or going on late-night walks. Beautiful. Unfortunately, after "The Chill Remains", the record takes a turn for the worse, and tracks five through eleven mostly consist of less exciting, more generic rock-oriented tunes. Some of these songs are incredible and absolutely up to the Wipers standard ("Losers Town", "Don't Belong To You" and "Against The Wall" come to mind immediately), but for the most part these songs lack the originality and energy that made the previous Wipers records so damn good. On top of that, the echoey, reverby production that worked so perfectly for those first four tracks isn't at all appropriate for the rest of the record and as a result, most of it just sounds muddy and thin.

Don't get me wrong though, this is definitely not a "bad" album. It is a Wipers record, which pretty much automatically guarantees quality, but after four perfect records in a row, I can't help but be slightly disappointed while listening to it. It's definitely worth picking up for the better tracks, but Greg Sage's music wouldn't live up to its full potential again until his second solo album.

Review by Mark Pennington

Review date: 08/2003

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The Circle

Wipers - The Circle ©1988 Restless
1. I Want A Way
2. Time Marches On
3. All The Same
4. True Believer
5. Good Thing
6. Make Or Break
7. The Circle
8. Goodbye Again
9. Be There
10. Blue & Red

At the time of its release, The Circle was meant to be the final Wipers album and Greg Sage had all the intentions of doing some solo work. As it turned out, The Circle represented the last album before a five year hiatus in Wipers releases.

For the most part this album is workmanship and steady, but not really offering a whole lot for anyone but the dedicated Wipers fan. The Circle certainly isn't a bad record but at the same time, it does lack a lot of spark of earlier releases as well as later ones. But perhaps that was the reason Greg Sage intended to disband after this record. Everything here has his signature songwriting style and sound but somehow lacks the chemistry and magic of other albums. But on a plus side, the final three songs on the album are slower, much more moody pieces that foreshadow where Sage would go on his 1989 solo release as well as a far reaching hint at the future. Given all that, The Circle is required for anyone who fully digs the Wipers, but would be the last studio album I'd recommend as a first dive into their music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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The Best Of Wipers And Greg Sage

Wipers - The Best Of Wipers And Greg Sage ©1990 Restless
1. Nothing Left To Lose
2. Way Of Love
3. Some Place Else
4. The Chill Remains
5. Soul's Tongue
6. Blue Cowboy
7. Taking Too Long
8. The Circle
9. Romeo
10. Messenger
11. Better Off Dead
12. No Solution
13. My Vengeance
14. Just A Dream Away
15. Different Ways
16. Losers Town

This excellent package boasts some of the highlights of Greg Sage and the Wipers' years with Restless Records throughout the 80s. Though Sage would resurrect the band in the 90s on a different record label, The Best of Wipers and Greg Sage provides a perfect overview of the band's work up to 1988, when Sage initially ended the band. The only album not represented is Is This Real?, due to legalities with the label it was originally released on in 1979. But fortunately, a rare early single, the aggressive and powerful "Better Off Dead", is offered for early representation instead. The most noticeable thing about this entire package is that the sixteen songs, covering twelve years, several studio albums and Sage's solo album, are very consistent in both style and execution. Sage's entirely unique and signature guitar sound is the main catalyst for what it is that makes this band stand out. While the earliest track, "Better off Dead", is much denser and angry, you can easily tell it's from the same songwriter who wrote "Blue Cowboy". Sage's vocals throughout are pensive, lonesome and wailing, which is another signature of his. As the music became moodier, his voice seems to mold to the songs much better. Perhaps the only complaint of this package is that there is very little information on which song comes from what studio release, nor any sort of liner notes beyond basic member information. Regardless, this CD is the perfect introduction to the band, offering sixteen tracks of some of the band's better works.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Silver Sail

Wipers - Silver Sail ©1993 Tim Kerr/Zeno
1. Y I Came
2. Back To The Basics
3. Warning
4. Mars
5. Prisoner
6. Standing There
7. Sign Of The Times
8. Line
9. On A Roll
10. Never Win
11. Silver Sail

After 1988's The Circle, most people figured Wipers had been put completely to rest by bandleader Greg Sage. Sage had released a solo album in 1991 and remained relatively quiet otherwise. Meanwhile, many bands from the Pacific Northwest, where Wipers was originally located, were exploding into superstardom with the grunge movement. One of those rather famous bands, Nirvana, had proclaimed Greg Sage as a huge influence on their work, resulting in a tribute album and newfound attention in Wipers. But rather than acknowledge his role in helping influence a music scene, Sage surprised everyone by releasing a new Wipers album that was completely introspective, mournful, moody and acoustic desert-blown art. Needless to say, Sage's reputation for constantly going against the grain was justified.

Silver Sail, released in 1993, was a surprise, especially considering most people thought of the Wipers as finished. Regardless, it was a very good surprise, offering some of Sage's best work to date. The first half of the album is brooding, heartwrenching and somber. It isn't until the seventh track, "Sign of the Times", that Sage finally lets things rev up a little and kicks it up a notch. Some of the material is highly reminiscient of his 1991 Sacrifice for Love solo release and all of the songs rely on his famous echoing, wandering guitar solos and distinct rhythm tracks. These songs are entirely catchy, even in their introspective, downtrodden anti-glory. On a whole, Silver Sail packs a wallop between the first six somber songs and the final group of upbeat and more thundering songs. This is a very good return for one of the more enigmatic figures in post-punk music and one ofthe absolute highlights in the Wipers' history.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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