This set reissues most of Flipper’s catalogue except for the live Blow’n Chunks album and the post-Will Shatter American Grafishy. This is a great thing in light of how everything but the subpar Blow’nChunks album has been massively out of print for years. Flipper are an acquired taste, but, at the same time, are completely essential, if that makes sense. Flipper has a remarkable ability to make songs that are anti-musical, yet catchy. Generic and Gone Fishin’ are Flipper’s first two studio full-lengths. They both showcase how Flipper are able to channel things like ugliness or depression and turn it into something that ultimately feels cathartic and renewing. The genius of Flipper lies partially in the accessibility of their inaccessible music. This isn’t the sound of a dude with overblown testosterone issues bellowing about pain, or of maddeningly pretentious-sounding indie dudes. Rather, vocalist/bassists Bruce Loose and Will Shatter sound like relatable, if perhaps off-kilter, people.
The classic songs to recommend are many: “Life,” “Ever,” “I (Saw You) Shine,” “First the Heart,” “Sacrifice.” All these songs feel like they pull you into dark areas with bleak lyrics, guitar that’s mostly ambient noise, and repetitive, muddy bass that often ends up being the lead instrument. The trick is that you come out the other side feeling better. Oddly enough, about the only song on the two albums I’m not completely crazy about is the semi-hit “Sex Bomb.” Public Flipper is a double live album that has recordings spanning five years. Most of these recording are actually as good as the studio versions, plus there are a few songs that aren’t on any studio albums. This is totally worth getting for the absolutely transcendent version of “Life” on disc two and the awesome Flipper board game that can be made out of the packaging. Sex Bomb Baby! is a rarities compilation. Some of the stuff is lackluster, like “Lowrider” and the really odd version of “Ever.” This is the least essential of the CDs—except that it has one of the most essential Flipper songs on it, “Ha Ha Ha”—so get this one too. To paraphrase Krist Novoselic in his liner notes for Generic, the first several times someone ever hears Flipper they might sound like just a raw, distorted, ugly wash, but then one day they may suddenly click and you realize that they may be one of the best bands in the world.