Is This Real?

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Is This Real?
Wipers - Is This Real cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1980
RecordedOctober 1979 at Recording Associates in Portland, Oregon
GenrePunk rock
LabelPark Avenue (original)
Sub Pop (CD)
Jackpot (LP reissue)
ProducerGreg Sage
Wipers chronology
Is This Real?
Alien Boy

Singles from Is This Real?
  1. "Alien Boy"
    Released: 1980

Is This Real? is the debut studio album by the Portland, Oregon-based punk rock band Wipers, originally released on vinyl in January 1980 by Park Avenue Records.

The album was reissued on CD by Sub Pop in 1993, augmented by the three tracks from the Alien Boy EP.

In 2001, it was digitally remastered by Sage and reissued again on his own Zeno Records as part of a 3-CD set, with the track list altered so that the song "Alien Boy" appeared together with the other three tracks from the Alien Boy EP, after "Wait a Minute".

It was reissued on LP by Jackpot Records in 2006, remastered again from the original tapes that Sage provided to the label.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[2]
Q4/5 stars[3]

Initially wanting to put it out through his own Trap Records, Sage decided to release the album through Park Avenue Records, hoping that it would give them slightly wider distribution. Before it was released, Park Avenue insisted that the band re-record the album at a professional studio, as it was originally recorded at the band's rehearsal studio on a 4-track recorder.[4] When finally released, the album was not promoted and received little attention, only developing a cult following in the band's hometown. Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1980, Robert Christgau wrote, "Three guys from Portland (Oregon, but it might just as well be Maine) who caught on to punk unfashionably late and for that reason sound like they're still discovering something. Which hardly makes them unique--there are similar bands in dozens if not hundreds of American cities, many of whom send me records. What distinguishes this one is Greg Sage's hard-edged vocals--detached but never silly, passionate but never overwrought--and economical one-hook construction".[5]

The album (and the band's music in general) gained a slightly wider audience during the early 1990s when grunge band Nirvana covered the songs "Return of the Rat" and "D-7" on a Wipers tribute album and the group's Hormoaning EP. In 1993, Nirvana vocalist/guitarist Kurt Cobain listed Is This Real? at No. 46 in the top 50 albums he thought were most influential to Nirvana's sound in his Journals.[6][7] BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel stated in a 1993 interview that it was one of his top 20 favorite albums.

Is This Real? later came to be regarded as a classic punk rock album of the 1980s. Stephen Howell of AllMusic, in his retrospective review, rated the album 4 out of 5 stars and stated that the production "leaves much to be desired with its tinny-sounding drums, but fortunately, the negatives don't outweigh the positives."[1] He also said that Sage wrote "fairly simplistic songs with power chords, but each melody infects your brain like a fever" and noted that much of the album has a dark and ominous feel.[1]

Cover versions[edit]

Apart from the aforementioned Nirvana cover, "Return of the Rat" was also covered by Bored! on their album Scuzz.[8] The track "Mystery" was covered by numerous bands including Eagulls,[9] JEFF the Brotherhood,[10] Shellshag,[11] Rose Melberg,[12] and Meat Wave. "Up Front" was covered by Poison Idea[13] and Corin Tucker, "Potential Suicide" by Napalm Beach,[14] and "Wait A Minute" by My Vitriol.[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Greg Sage.

Side +
1."Return of the Rat"2:37
3."Up Front"3:04
4."Let's Go Away" (Listed as "Let's Go Let's Go Away" on the original release)1:47
5."Is This Real?"2:39
7."Alien Boy"3:18
Side -
2."Potential Suicide"3:35
3."Don't Know What I Am"2:56
4."Window Shop for Love"2:59
5."Wait a Minute"3:05
Total length:33:55



  • Greg Sage – producer
  • Bob Stoutenberg – engineer, recording
  • Mark Heim; Mike King – cover art
  • Jay Elliot – sleeve art


  1. ^ a b c Howell, Stephen. "Is This Real? – Wipers". AllMusic. Retrieved July 17, 2005.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 22, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Wipers: Is This Real?". Q (81): 126. June 1993.
  4. ^ "Music – Music News, New Songs, Videos, Music Shows and Playlists from MTV".
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 28, 1980). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  6. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  7. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Cover versions of Return of the Rat by Bored! - SecondHandSongs".
  9. ^ "Eagulls - SecondHandSongs".
  10. ^ "Cover versions of Mystery by JEFF The Brotherhood - SecondHandSongs".
  11. ^ "Cover versions of Mystery by Shellshag - SecondHandSongs".
  12. ^ "Cover versions of Mystery by Rose Melberg - SecondHandSongs".
  13. ^ "Cover versions of Up Front by Poison Idea - SecondHandSongs".
  14. ^ "Cover versions of Potential Suicide by Napalm Beach - SecondHandSongs".
  15. ^ "Live Review: My Vitriol - Koko, London 20/11/17". When The Horn Blows.