Over the Edge

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A distant cousin of the preceding Youth of America but undoubtedly no less excellent and no less venomous, Over the Edge is a return to the easily digestible song lengths of Is This Real?; however, it all but leaves that debut in its wake. On the strength of some brave/smart radio stations that decided to play this album's "Romeo" (a propulsive horn-flecked slammer in the vein of "Youth of America"), Wipers solidified their status as a certifiable force in the American underground of the early '80s. Songs like "Messenger" and "What Is" show Greg Sage's increasing skill as a pop songwriter. Despite the fusion of punk and pop, the record hardly mirrors the bands that would later be called punk-pop. In fact, this collision of the two elements makes what followed decades later seem twee. There's just too much blood and sweat, and there's too much tightly wound tension released. The overload is tempered somewhat on the album's second side. The arrangements are sparse (and there are less guitar fireworks) when compared to their first-side counterparts, but the level of intensity is hardly sacrificed. Over the Edge is a kind of classic; it might have been created with guitars and drums, and it might have verse-chorus-verse song structures, but it's doubtful that Wipers were allowing any influences to creep into the record. The version to own is actually hidden inside Wipers Box Set, which was released by Sage in 2001. While exhaustive at three discs, it shouldn't cost any more than a typical single-disc release. It also sounds better, thanks to a fine remastering job.

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