ALBUM: “Over the Edge” by Wipers
RELEASE YEAR: 1983
LABEL: Brain Eater / Trap
BEST TRACKS: “Doom Town”, “Romeo”, “No One Wants an Alien”
Kurt Cobain has deliberately name-dropped Wipers as his and Nirvana’s inspiration for their sound (as stated by this Rolling Stones article). I am not the biggest Nirvana fan, but Kurt Cobain’s legendary status in pop culture history helps his comment carry a bit more weight.
Wipers was a Seattle based punk band that formed in late 1978 (so says their tiny bio). The founding members were Greg Sage, Dave Koupal and Sam Henry, but the latter two members weren’t a part of the band for the creation of “Over the Edge”.
“Over the Edge” has Greg Sage on vocals, writing and guitar. There is no credit given to any other band members, so let’s get into this release.
The title track, “Over the Edge”, of course is a great song, but to me the highlight track of this album is “Doom Town”. The longer periods of instrumentals in this song highlight Sage’s ability to bring the right amount of noise and vocals to his music. This song is not happy. “Doom Town” puts hundreds of pounds of pressure on our ears with the inescapable feeling of being trapped in a dead city, and I love how well it conveys this feeling.
“Romeo” is one of the band’s more popular tracks, and rightfully so. Stumbling about in the hazy dark, you burst into an adrenaline fueled sprint. You don’t know why, but you’re searching for something. This foggy rush is my best interpretation of “Romeo”. I have no clue what we are searching for in this track, but I have to keep looking.
No one wants to feel ostracized, but at some point we all feel this barrier from a social circle keeping us out. “No One Wants an Alien” expresses this feeling beautifully. Sage knows outcasts and uses his stage to shove them into the light like so many punk rockers, metalheads, and really all musicians. Sage takes the weird, new sounds (for 1983) and fuses them to create a twang-y, punk anthem that is this track.
I keep returning to this album and Wipers in general to hear the roots of punk. With this album I can gain a broader perspective of the journey music makes just to reach our ears. Greg Sage’s ability to let his dreams be heard is remarkable and I will continue to appreciate his writing as I sink into his sounds.