Various Artists

A Tribute to Greg Sage & the Wipers

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The quadruple 7" single box set has now been issued on CD with six extra tracks. From the original box, Nirvana bashed out "Return of the Rat" from 1980's Is This Real? (they also covered "D7" from that LP on the B-side of the U.K. release of "Lithium"), the usually awful Hole somehow set the title track of 1983's Over the Edge on fire, while Napalm Beach, M99, Whirlies, Crackerbash, Poison Idea, and Dharma Bums all sadly stuck mostly to that first of eight Wipers/Greg Sage LPs. Half are good, half suck. Unfortunately, half of the six new songs are also poorly-chosen covers, continuing the tunnel vision towards only very early Sage. Calamity Jane's top-heavy grunge-trashing (despite cool female vocals) of the amazing "Alien Boy," and Hazel's exciting sounding but very sloppy "Tragedy," also date from the first LP, and Nation of Ulysses likewise goes for first LP B-side "Telepathic Love" (hot version, bad vocals). Is this a tribute to Sage or just his first album?! But beggars shouldn't complain, and any attention shown to one of America's Top Ten talents ever is welcome. And thankfully there's the other three: Saliva Tree's wildly reworked, effectively chilly "Soul's Tongue" is from Sage's first solo LP in 1985, Straight Ahead, the well-named Honey's gorgeous and very different "No One Wants an Alien" is also from the third LP (pretty female vocal makes this a highlight) and Thurston Moore and Keith Nealy's "Pushing the Extreme" is (finally!) from the immortal second LP Youth of America (we've said this before: is there some kind of law that forbids the release of "tribute" LPs without a member of Sonic Youth participating?). Even though this is a substandard version, it's nevertheless interesting, and it's good that somebody feted that stunning LP! Shame not a single selection from Sage's last three equally brilliant albums, 1987's Follow Blind, 1988's Circle or 1991's Sacrifice (For Love), and only one (horrible) one from the fourth to last, 1986's Land of the Lost. There's a whole decade worth of classic Sage material hardly touched here. How 'bout a volume II! Or buy those Wipers albums! You will not be sorry!