Found-Again Friday: Guadalcanal Diary’s Flip-Flop Album

Why Found-Again? I’m not sure how a Found-Again music post will go; my inability to write technically about music is exceeded only by my inability to write technically about movies. But in the midst of tearing my hair out trying to find a topic for Friday, I realized I’d already revisited something for the first time in a long time this week: Guadalcanal Diary’s 1989 fourth album, Flip-Flop.


The prosaic answer to the question above is therefore “because I finally ponied up for a CD player for my bedroom.”

The Background: I’ve already done a Musical Interlude post about the southern power-pop trend of the ’80s—popularly typified by REM—which for me managed to combine music I loved with a sense of regional pride. A less sheltered kid would have found out about these bands organically, but my first exposure to Georgia’s Guadalcanal Diary was a review of Flip-Flop in my mom’s copy of People magazine. I tracked down the cassette at a record store in Norfolk after I heard the single “Always Saturday” on the radio, and a decades-long enthusiasm was born.

The single wasn’t entirely typical of the band’s sound, but I fell in love with Flip-Flop…until I got my hands on their first full-length album, Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man. Guadalcanal Diary released four full-length LPs in the 1980s, and my personal ranking of them would involve two ties:

  1. Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man and 2×4
  2. Jamboree and Flip-Flop

The albums in the number-one spot are a huge part of the soundtrack of my existence from ages sixteen to nineteen. The others…less so.

Because despite bringing the guitar-heavy sound that characterized Guadalcanal Diary…

and making lots of room for the outstanding vocals of singer Murray Attaway, who wails and snarls and purrs like no one else on earth…

…There’s something a little lacking when Flip-Flop is compared to the previous albums. The only word I can think of for it is urgency, and when you consider this was the “final” record for an awfully long time—there has been more music since, and the band members have done other projects—perhaps its slightly elegiac tone makes sense. Compare, for example, to one of my favorites from 2×4:

The Verdict: The same as it was for the movie Oscar, really. Would I change its place in the ranking above after giving Flip-Flop another listen-through? No. Does it deserve more attention than I’ve paid to it over the years? Hell yes.

Might go well with: Pour the summer beverage of your choice and have a listen.


Next time: Set robots to stun.


J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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