Wipers (1982) Youth of America LP

Park Avenue 82802
Rating:***** (Good Shit)

This starts off like it might be just another forgettable 80s pop-rock album but it soon takes off like a super-sonic jet, flying over those grimy NW territories, places behind garages down along the railroad tracks, the sound bringing the Tacoma past into the present tense, marking the smoggy sky with something the NW would look back at when they’d introduce the world to the NW sound a decade later.

While something so drenched in the Northwest climate could have come across as dreary, this band cranks the amps and motors through the fog.  By the time they get to the extended title track, they’re charging through the rain-soaked streets like an old Mopar, the wipers keeping time and splashing away the rain to give us a clear view of the situation, a kid on a side street stomping through the puddles, shaking the rain from his hair, fists held out in the fog like the wings of an airplane, closing his eyes and imagining he had the money to buy the ticket to fly away from this rainy madness, pretending he’s a sonic jet himself, lifting off with images of the NW flashing through the clouds as he soars into the source of all that rain.  
(The lyrics might provide other images, but that’s the image the title track provides for this listener.)

Like all the best from the Northwest in the 1980s, this owes something to the hardcore pioneers, but Greg Sage was one of the pioneers himself, and even more than the NW albums of the late 80s, this set reveals a sound all its own.  It houses some of the best rock ‘n roll to come out of Portland town, capturing the rain-soaked climate perhaps better than any band.  Just cut the lights and crank that title track and you’ll see why that cut is considered such a classic.

— winch  (author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s and the two-part novel Junk Like That)


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