Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • The Generic Album [Subterranean, 1982] A
  • Gone Fishin' [Subterranean, 1984] B
  • Public Flipper Limited [Subterranean, 1986] B+
  • Sex Bomb Baby! [Subterranean, 1988] A-
  • American Grafishy [Def American, 1992] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Generic Album [Subterranean, 1982]
I love 'em, you may hate 'em, and that's the way Flipper planned it. Live, they play the same two chords until everybody who doesn't want to have fun goes home, then reward those delighted/mesmerized by their synthesis of the Stooges and the Grateful Dead by throwing in an extra chord and revving up half a step. The record somehow manages to achieve the same effect about eight times in forty minutes. For this they're classified as hardcore, but Jim Fouratt (leaning toward hate-'em as their set passed the two-hour mark) calls the band art-damaged and that's more the idea. The playing is crude ("Everybody start at the same time, ready"), unremitting ("Sex Bomb" has seven words and lasts close to eight minutes), and immensely charitable and good-humored (Iggy with Jerry's soul, I'm not kidding). The lyrics are existential resignation at its most enthusiastic. Inspirational Verse: "It's Life! Life! Life is the only thing worth living for." A

Gone Fishin' [Subterranean, 1984]
I must have listened to Generic Flipper fifty times without fully registering the dark and more or less unceasing roil of Ted Falconi's guitar. On this album it was the first thing I noticed. Watch out for bands who get heavily into texture. And stop making jokes. B

Public Flipper Limited [Subterranean, 1986]
A live double recorded mostly in '80 and '82, when their fuck-it wasn't yet a defeat, this has the spirit. But though they were anarchists they were no fools, so they put their best material on their first and forever best album, leaving the profusion of originals finally available here to bring up the rear. B+

Sex Bomb Baby! [Subterranean, 1988]
They had another classic in them after all, or call it a semiclassic--all the stuff from their moment that didn't make the classic. On 12 inches of vinyl (three extras make the cassette/CD too much of a bad thing), the six sides of single (including the impossible "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly") and three compilation cuts (including a live "Ever" that climaxes with Woodstock warnings for hardcore brats) sound made for each other. And the fanzine flexidisc adds that soupcon of shit. A-

American Grafishy [Def American, 1992] Dud