Tuesday, February 05, 2008

DVD: Flipper - Live Target Video 1980-81

Label: MVD Entertainment Group

Released: February 19, 2008

Flipper is one of those bands that no one really likes for the music. It's poorly constructed, disjointed and generally just a big mess. Nonetheless, they have fans, even 21 years after the death of singer Will Shatter and a spotty catalog at best since that time. The question then is, "Why?" The noisy, atonal confusion of their set at Berkeley Square in 1980 isn't nearly as inspired as I expected. Nor does it rise to the level of mayhem that I expected from a band that doesn't seem to do anything in a conventional manner. Even in the studio, there are hints of insanity that I hoped would be exponentially greater live and they weren't. It was perhaps mildly crazy and aside from crowd participation on "The Wheel," the whole thing was just plain dull.

The Kezar Stadium show from 1981 is more organized (though you could never call it tight). While it still lacks the madness I expected from Flipper, they do have a rather ominous presence in contrast to the silliness of the Berkeley Square gig. Even a better show doesn't quite get this over the hump of watchability though. Flipper remains an esoteric experience that likely requires being in the mood even for their biggest fans. Spending 71 minutes watching two concerts that are difficult to make sense of even in their best moments is a chore. As an historical document, the DVD does provide some additional evidence of just how wide open punk still was in San Francisco in the very early 80s, but it fails to really convey what I felt like. I guess you had to be there.

Rating: 5/10

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Blogger Metal Mark said...

I have not watched my copy yet, but hope to soon. I always thought Flipper were a chore to listen on album, but that's just the way they were. They were out there for the time and for punk rock perhaps. They were as much an oddity as anything else with little structure and there was at times more just being there then actually playing. I think that was part of the charm, but also perhaps a limitation for them. If you are always known an being off the wall and then you come out being organized then you be seen as being dull.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In order to comment on what Flipper was or wasn't back in the day, or what Flipper is or isn't in the present day, one would have to see Flipper live. Flipper was never about being organized. It was usually insanity, hanging on a thread.

The influence Flipper had on music history is immeasurable. Nirvana, Janes Addiction, Henry Rollins, Melvins, Beastie Boys. Not to mention thousands of garage bands who covered Sex Bomb!

Punk Rock in 1980 in San Francisco was not about being an organized musician with chops. It was about revolution! It was about tearing down the status quo of corporate rock. It was about doing it even if you weren't the best musician.

Think Sex Pistols! One of the rare bands that changed the face of music.

Flipper is one of those rare bands that needs to be seen live. The DVD experience pales in comparison.

8:29 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Anon, based on Flipper's albums and what I've always read yet never having the opportunity to see them live, I suspect what you say is true. The DVD unfortunately fails to capture any of that insanity.

8:56 AM  

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