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Somewhere between California and Seattle there's this little town called Portland. Sandwiched between two of the biggest music scenes of the last 30 years, one band emerged into obscurity. In 1979, a man would make his mark with a four-track. The ghost of Jimi Hendrix met up with Joey Ramone and Kurt Cobain was their bastard grandson.

The Wipers, recording from 1979 until 1999, were the project of Greg Sage. At the time the idea was to record 15 albums in ten years without touring or promoting them. That, and Sage wanted to cut his own records. They produced a series of albums that ranged from garage hardcore to dark pop--often all within a single album.

They gained a large following in Europe around the mid-1980s but never struck it big in the US for lack of marketing. Sage believed and still believes that, if it's good enough, word of mouth will sell it. The only constant in the band and creative drive behind it was Sage, the remaining members coming and going.

Sage moved to Phoenix and disbanded the Wipers in 1988 but came back for three more albums five years later.

The Wipers are one of the most underrated bands of the late 70s and 80s. Their reputation is disproportionate to their influence on what was to explode into the Seattle scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their heavy, droning early punk sound, more reminiscent of Joy Division a continent away than the California punk sound closer to home, was the product of an unusual line-up which, in its most impressive incarnation, included two bassists and Sage's distorted guitar fighting its way over the background buzz, using as many as fifty guitar tracks.

To describe the Wipers' influence as seminal would probably be an understatement since they were a prime influence on Kurt Cobain whose work defined a musical genre and a generation, as well as bands like Hüsker Dü, who were influential in their own right. Greg Sage has been given the title of "Grandfather of Grunge," but in this case grandpa outlasted many of the kids. In 1992 the "kids" released a tribute album covering 14 Wipers songs under the title of Fourteen Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers. A re-release of some of their work on Sub Pop followed and gained them a somewhat greater audience.

Discography:

Subjective: I recommend Land of the Lost and Ovee the Edge for anyone wishing to explore the Wipers. Dimension 7 or D-7 is probably the best known of their songs but you'll also find some excellent samples of their work in the title track from Land of the Lost, Fair Weather Friends (from the same album) and Window Shop for Love (from Is this Real?)

Many of their older albums have been remastered and re-released by Sage himself, including the Wipers Box Set, which is much more than just the three original, early albums it contains, Get their stuff at http://zenorecords.com/

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