Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!
I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!
You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.
Today, it’s time for some punk rock! Is This Real? is the debut album of Wipers, a punk rock band from Portland, Oregon. They were formed in 1977 by guitarist Greg Sage, along with drummer Sam Henry and bassist Dave Koupal. They are very influential band, and according to Wikipedia, they considered the first Pacific Northwest punk band. One of the bands they influenced? grrrrrr! Nirvana! This album was released in January 1980 (I can’t find a specific date). Greg Sage had created his own label called Trap Records. But, when it was time to release this album, Sage decided to release it through Park Avenue Records, hoping that it would give them slightly wider distribution. However, the company did not promote the album very well, and received very little attention. However, they did develop a cult following in the band’s hometown of Portland. Although they did not really hit it big in the ’80s, Wipers gained recognition during the early ’90s when Nirvana covered the songs “Return of the Rat” and “D-7”. Is This Real? then came to be regarded as a classic punk rock album of the ’80s. Now, let’s get into the album. As I mentioned, Is This Real? was released in January 1980 on Park Avenue Records. The personnel included: Greg Sage – lead vocals, guitar (and producer) Dave Koupal – bass Sam Henry – drums Now, let’s rock out! Again, click on the song title to get the YouTube video.
1. “Return of the Rat“
This is indeed a classic punk rock tune. The band is tight, and it has that guitar distortion that punk is known for. I can hear how it could be influential to grunge. Nirvana covered this song on the 1992 Wipers tribute record Eight Songs for Greg Sage and The Wipers. Here is Nirvana’s version. It’s actually a Nirvana song I can get behind!
This song is a little smoother than the previous song. This has that early 2000s pop-punk sound. I also notice that like most punk albums, the songs are pretty short. This song clocks in at less than 2 minutes.
3. “Up Front“
This is a killer, hard-driving tune. It starts with just the vocals and drums for almost 30 seconds, then the guitar kicks in and doesn’t look back.
This is another classic punk rock song with the guitar distortion and powerful lyrics.
5. “Is This Real?“
The title track is great! It also has that punk rock guitar, but this song is more melodic than the hard-driving-in-your-face rocker. It is flirting with New Wave.
The video for this is kind of disturbing. I’m not sure if it’s an official video. But, it is fitting for a punk rock or grunge song.
7. “Alien Boy“
This song takes you on a ride! And not only is it a single on this album, but this song was released as an EP, with “Alien Boy” on side A, and three outtakes from the Is This Real? album sessions on side B.
This is the other song on this album covered by Nirvana. And this is a little different than the other songs on the album so far. It starts off really slow. The influence on grunge can be felt here. Then the song kicks into full blown rock mode almost halfway through. Clocking in at over 4 minutes, this is by far the longest song on the album. This explains why there are 7 songs on the first side, and only 5 on the second side.
2. “Potential Suicide“
OK, this so this song is song is about 12 or 13 years ahead of its time. This is a heavy and dark tune. And I love it! It honestly feels revolutionary.
3. “Don’t Know What I Am“
Very cool and angsty song. The band is really tight on this one too.
4. “Window Shop for Love“
Could Wipers have foreseen the future of online dating during a pandemic? I’ll swipe right on this song!
5. “Wait a Minute“
We end on a little lighter style song. This sounds like The Rolling Stones gone New Wave.
Hidden Gems: I don’t even know where to begin! This whole album is a hidden gem!
Here is my ratings scale
5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back
This will be my first 5 out of 5 for the year! Every song is great. I know I bash on grunge on the podcast often. But if you are into grunge, this is a must-buy! I had never heard of Wipers until now, and that’s a shame. They are obviously a heavily influential band. This is a well-produced album and shamefully unrecognized. This band must have been incredible live, and I can see why they would have had a loyal following.
So, what are your thoughts on this album? Are there any Wipers fans out here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.