A band that has no place in today's Wireless E-conomy
*special introductory paragraph!
*Pink Flag
*Chairs Missing
*The Peel Sessions
*On Returning (1977-1979)
*Behind The Curtain
*Document And Eyewitness
*Turns And Strokes
*Snakedrill EP
*The Ideal Copy
*A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck
*It's Beginning To And Back Again
*The Drill
*The First Letter
*The Third Day EP
*Read & Burn EP
*Read & Burn 03 EP
*Object 47
*Red Barked Tree

Wire you reading this? Ha haha!!! HEEE!!! Wire were British art students who started off as a punk band, then slowed down and got arty/experimental but good. Then they split up, reformed and weren't as good, say most. But what do I say? Isn't that the real question we all want to ask ourselves? Sure it is! Especially when you consider that I actually bothered to BUY most of their late-period shittyass dick albums! That's more than you can say for most of the world's population!

* Pink Flag - Restless 1977. *
Rating = 10

This is the album that made some people start calling Wire "Punk Floyd." It's exactly what you would expect a punk rock album by art students to sound like. First of all, it's completely rigid, with the bass, guitar and drums all sounding like one big fuzzy beautiful unit. Then there's the singer who just sounds like a deep art student spitting out his abstruse lyrics in a detached voice that just SCREAMS "pretentious." After that, there's the fact that the songs start, go and stop. No real verse or chorus to most of them - just start, go and stop all of a sudden as soon as the lyrics are over. "Surgeon's Girl" for example careens along with ONE chord until they decide to change to a second chord. Then a third chord pops in and WHAMMO! It's over. Then there's "Field Day For The Sundays," which sticks about 52 false ends into a song that's like 35 seconds long. So you're all like "punk band, okay." But then there's these amazing slow moody songs like "Reuters" and the title track that have you clawing your eyes out at the ensuing drama. Fuck let me stop for a second.

I am in awe of this album and have been for a very long time. I can't even really put my finger on what it is, but it's one of those records where I started off thinking it had maybe three good songs, then I kept being drawn back to it over and over again until it got to the point where I was literally listening to it over and over and over again in my Walkman for like two weeks in a row, which is something I NEVER do. Maybe I'm drawn to the brilliance masquerading as simplicity. Maybe it's the astonishingly hypnotic guitar tone, which somehow manages to be filthy, foreboding and chiming all at the same time. Or perhaps it's just the fact that the songs are really short and catchy.

Whatever it is, the record sounds like no other, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. About a trillion bands have covered or ripped off songs from this album (did I mention that it has 21 songs?). Let's see here: "Three Girl Rhumba" was ripped off by Elastica, Henry Rollins covered "Ex Lion Tamer," the New Bomb Turks covered "Mr. Suit," REM covered "Strange," Minor Threat covered "12XU," a cover band called Ex-Lion Tamers apparently routinely covered the entire record on stage, and if you have any interest in art punk at all, you'll want to cover a tune or two of your own after you hear the record.

God what more can I say to make you buy this. Well, a friend of mine claimed that it "just sounds like every other punk album," but I can't believe that somebody would say that. NO punk album sounds this distant and cold. This is not high-energy punk. It is high-SPEED, yes, but the mood is absolutely chilling, not thrilling. Even the one song I don't like on here, a "Louie Louie" ripoff called "Feeling Called Love," sounds too fucked up to actually be about that sweet human emotion we call "love."

Just check it out, and be sure to give it several lessons before writing it off as the same ol' shit. Because it's not. It's a very special record that mixes straight punk rock with a whole slew of artistic elements that you just wouldn't expect. Plus a bunch of the songs near the end aren't even punk ("Fragile" and "Mannequin" are just pretty pop songs, for example!), so you can even enjoy those as mere songs to enjoy, if you so be you so! Whee! Girls and gum!!! Lemonade bum!!! Fum fum fum!!!!

Reader Comments

bougops@bu.edu (Greg Bougopoulos)
Your review is dead on to my feelings about this Mark. I didn't really think much of it, and I couldn't tell you why. Now, however, it is an important part of my life. I'm going to say that this is my favorite album, so I might have to claim this as the best rock album ever. Just my view of course, but then again I have great taste in music so others should listen to me.

This is my favorite punk album ever. I first heard it about 15 years ago and it still sounds awesome today. When I talk with other music whores and find out that they've never heard this record I urge them to get it immediately. This is one of those records where you listen to it straight through and each song gets better then the one before. It still blows my mind. I know anyone who knows there shit is familiar with Pink Flag, but it's amazing this album has, in general, been overlooked.

rickert@wou.edu (Thomas Rickert)
This album is soooooooo good. Your review nails it, man. I have had this album on vinyl for years! Stole it from my college radio station, heh heh. Finally broke down and bought it on CD, and now that I have, I wonder what took me so long. It's pretty much punk, but everything is just slightly awry. Conceptually, it's in a similar headspace to what the Melvins were doing with their trilogy recently--messing with the conventions. The great thing about Wire is, who knew that these were the conventions in 1978?!!

British art school dudes, I guess. I, too, am in awe of this album.

The crap version of 12XU on this album was Wire's first ever recording, which was originally from the punk collection 'Live At The Roxy'. That's why it was added. It's not available anywhere else.

sigh. if wire had gotten a full drum set pink flag would be the best punk album ever, the songs and melodies are ALL top notch but on quite a few songs the drummer is only tapping one cymbal! c'mon! also some of the rifts begin to feel recycled by the end of the album and I would say that about half the songs have moments that blow. aside from these truly small flaws this album is PERFECT!!! the only punk album that I find to be better is the fall's grotesque (after the gramme) but that is only MY subjective opinion, this is probably a hair better (if only for influence) also husker du's Zen arcade could be the best punk album but it has a lot of filler. oh yeah and one other thing I like the music and the singing but a lot of the lyrics are nonsensical pieces of feces. like "ex-lion tamer" for example. as for that amazing guitar tone, as much as i love it, it is only so dirty, chiming and foreboding because they recorded the guitar in a lo-fi way and turned the distortion way up, i should know, I've done it! still I love that guitar tone! although all the songs are great (except for the drunken "feeling called love") my favorite is "field day for the Sundays"; and ya know what I'm gonna cover it!


I honestly don't know why I waited so long to get this one. Knowing that I could've been in awe of this album for the past few years is fairluy depressing. But, at least I did wind up buying it, and I am really glad I did.

I can still clearly remember the first time I ever heard it. (It was two weeks ago, so that's why it's so clear in my mind.) Once the whole band kicked into "Reuters," the following was my reaction:

"Okay... it's midtempo...are they gonna change chords anytime soon?...No, they're not?...Cool...The singer has an interesting voice...This is awesome."

"Oh, hey, look...they finally switched chords."

I honestly cannot believe how underrated this album is. Sure, Spin named it the #2 punk album of all time, but they also put shitty-ass Sleater-Kinney on the same list, so...

No one I know has even heard of Wire. What the fuck?! I'd list my favorite songs, but I really don't feel like typing out seventeen or eighteen titles. "Ex-Lion Tamer" sticks above the rest, though. I don't know what the last person's thinking, because the lyrics are great, talking about a society depending on TV. It ain't that hard to figure out. (Batman & Lone Ranger refrences, plus the "Stay glued to your TV set" line that gets repeated ad naseum. Not even Dick Lukas was THAT literal.)

I think a little too much is being made of the song structures, though. There are definite verses and choruses. The thing that set it apart for me was the way they'd just hammer away at one chord for almost a minute at a time. That's fucking awesome, and I think I'm gonna do it too. Plus a cover or two.

Oh, and Elastica should be shot for taking "Three Girl Rhumba" and turning it into such a boring waste.

Unbelievable. This definitely gets 10/10, if only for Surgeon's Girl. I don't know, when that song comes on it makes me bang on my steering wheel and scream very loudly. But really, almost every song is a winner. The only one I don't care for is Mannequin-but that's a small complaint.

levez@thehoneyoffering.net (Andrew Dean)
Just so you know, the Ex-Lion tamers covers band are in fact R.E.M. Or at least, I have read before that R.E.M. have used that name for a secret gig they did in London once.

nator9999@comcast.net (Nathan)
It's weird, I feel exactly the same way about this; I usually hate this kind of stuff but for some reason I keep wanting to listen to it. I can't attribute a single song on here to it's title, but they're all so damn catchy! It's like they wrote a bunch of normal pop songs and then just cut out everything but the hooks. Really arty and fun. I should pick up some of their other stuff.

"Watusi" by "The Wedding Present" is what I had in my walkman for er...6 months, while friends (1) waxed lyrical about the bloody brilliant, "PINK FLAG". The start of possibly the best triligy, (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, 154), in music history, released in 1977, 1978 and 1979, sure each is similiar but different, Pink Flag is simple, but so well exceuted, it defies logic. What should be a bunch of faceless tunes, becomes life changingly essential, it's one of those old fashioned albums which has NO filler (except maybe, Start To Move, Brazil and The Commercial, but it's all personal taste) AND lots of songs, each clipped at the exact right place (maybe some are even, TOO SHORT, "Straight Line" which is, tee, hee, hee, one verse, one chorus), but all are absolutely staggering in some way, (and they still sound fresh and bang up to date) but, all these simple arrangments DO become (slightly) tiresome after a while (we're talking TWENTY plus years here) kick drum, highhat and snare has its limits (have a listen to Buzzcocks, "Another Music In A Different Kitchen") Anywho, produced by one of the best additional band members, (who has never put a foot wrong) crack (cocaine) producer Mike Thorne. I got jack all else to say, but if you wandered here by mistake looking for the "Weezer" reviews, scouts honour, buy the first three.

Comment: I KNOW exactly what you did last summer.

My rating is a Strange, Reuters, 106 Beats That, Fragile, That's the Lowdown, 9

One of the very best albums of the initial British punk explosion, Pink Flag kicks a ton of squalling art-student ass. The CD even has two of their best songs added as bonuses, "Dot Dash" and "Options R." I love "Options R," but my faves are probably "Reuters," "Field Day," "3 Girl Rhumba," "Ex Lion Tamer," "Lowdown," "Mannequin," and of course "Strange." There are a few I know I'm missing here as well. I once edited some of the shorter tracks together to see if they made songs (thank you WavePad), and they really did! It was sweet! Just paste 'em together and take out the silences and some of them sound like individual parts of one awesome song!

The guitar tone on this album was acheived with a Gibson Les Paul Pro, a Music Man combo amp, and probably an MXR distortion pedal. That's Gilbert's; Newman used the same except that he used a white Ovation guitar instead of the Les Paul Pro (which is a Les Paul with soapbar P-90's).

Probably pointless to add my voice to the choir, but if "Pink Flag" isn't the best album ever, it may be the most perfect.

For all those who rate this as "the best punk album ever" or whatever, how often do you actually get the urge to sit down and listen to this one? Once, maybe twice a year? It's just that I fail to see how this gets so highly rated in Wire's discography when you hold it up against the two that came after it; I find Chairs Missing and 154 to be much, much more interesting. Those two albums are much more musically diverse; I love the guitar tone on Pink Flag, but after a while I just get tired of it. The whole album just kind of sounds like a half-hearted and unfinished art project; most will praise it for its minimalism but I must be missing something with it. It often just sounds tinny to me ears.

It has some great songs, but nothing that really matches up to the moments of greatness on the next two. The darker songs like "Reuters" and "Strange" are among these, but they aren't "French Film Blurred" or "A Mutual Friend," are they? The other highlights for me are "Three Girl Rumba," "Ex Lion Tamer," "Lowdown," "Fragile and "Mannequin" -- the last two are the poppy numbers and give a nice bit of relief from the rest of the minimalist punk.

Despite my negative comments, it's still a very good -- even great -- album. None of the songs are bad at all, but too many are a wee bit too uninteresting and make the album drag slightly. I must add that I really loved the album the first few listens, but it hasn't held up that well with repeated listens. I'll give this one a high 8. Certainly one of the better early British punk albums, but the best? Can't say I agree with anyone there.

(a couple days later)

Fuck, fuck, fuck. What were we thinking when we left that comment there? "Failed art experiment"?! Something tells me I need to proof read even more before I email in my comments. Because this album is great. REALLY great! I don't think enough people realise how difficult it must be to play with such understatement and minimalism in a genre that otherwise demands the opposite; it must have been tempting to dick around on the recording of this album. The guitar tone is lovely, fuzzy, hypnotic, dreamy, sludgy, droney and slick all at the same time. All the songs are fantastic, the riffs and hooks are fantastic. Since Chairs Missing gets the ten from me, I'm going to have to settle for giving this a high 9.

Also, on my way home from school today -- I was walking home since we were let out early because of mock GCSE's and didn't fancy taking the bus -- I saw a guy who I went to primary school with who I hadn't seen in years smoking with some other guy. I still mentally associate him with the eleven-year-old I last saw him as, so seeing him puffing away felt seriously odd! What made it all the weirder was that I'd never have really guessed that HE would go on to do drugs (I'm pretty sure it wasn't tobacco they were doing, but even that's a fucking drug); he always seemed like a nice, pleasant guy. And he looked like a fucking waste as well! He shouted something I couldn't make out and laughed with his friend, so I just smiled and waved like I gave a shit about whatever crap he was trying to say and walked on. Made me a bit sad, really.

If anyone can somehow tie those two disparate paragraphs together somehow they'll earn my undying respect.

Along with FunHouse and Revolver, this may be the greatest album ever recorded.

Frontman Colin Newman, paraphrased: Our songs didn't rock, they swerved.

It's not 21 tiny punk anthems, it's one big song broken into fragments.

And these guys were not punks, they were performing one of the few Zappa-esque acts of pop sabotage that actually worked, subverting that silly limey fashion cult from within, secret art-rockers.

(favorite slur for British people -- "tea bags." Has several levels of embedded insult, one of them repulsive....)

i was a punk before you were a punk.
the whole punk era, attitude, music, aesthetics, wit, stance, novelty etc etc etc can be described in just four words: WIRE. 'pink flag' is the epitomy of punk, an album that put 'punk' posers & clowns [all them famous bands] to eternal shame. punk was never about ugliness and impotence. it was about a different, radical kind of beauty. over and out.

Add your thoughts?

Chairs Missing - Restless 1978.
Rating = 9

They dumped the punk! Now they're just a guitar-heavy art rock band! But a good good one. The freezing detached feeling of being beaten to a crisp while a group called Wire stands across the room, just watching as you suffer, continues on here with such dark entries as "Practic Makes Perfect" and "Mercy," while the scant few but awesome energetic tunes go even further beyond that there Pank Flig in catchicatchiness ("Men 2nd"? Holy christ is that a great song! "Sand In My Joints"? Shit yeah, I've got sand in my joints! And I'm smokin' 'em and gettin' high!). Oh and yeah there are some great pop songs, a couple have synth sounds that make 'em sound like The Cars, others are very very slow and quiet.

Again, this is art rock for the late 70s. Not Emerson Lake and Palmer art -- art by young people who are approaching the field of music from an entirely different direction. Hunting out the perfect creepy, circusy noises, augmenting them with others, keeping a steady rock beat, keeping the songs less than 20 minutes -- minimalism, not overbearing showing offitude. I am impressed when people create records that don't sound like any others I've ever heard. Wire have done it again with Chairs Missing. I know I'm not doing justice to their genius -- the way that they seamlessly piece together the disparate pieces of a musical puzzle to create a brand new creation that hits the ears as if it's always been there -- but nobody had done it before.

Man, that was an awful description. Let me try the whole thing again.

This album is like the last one, but less punky. Slower.

Reader Comments

bougops@bu.edu (Greg Bougopoulos)
Actually, the best ones (nearly the whole album) appear 'On Returning' but that doesn't detract from the overall greatness of it. 'Another the Letter' anyone? Isn't that such a brilliant piece of music? How about 'I Am the Fly'? How about any of these songs except for 'Mercy" which is boring beyond my wildest dreams? How about I shut up now? Figured you'd answer that one. A high 8.

levez@thehoneyoffering.net (Andrew Dean)
This is my favourite of the first three albums (the only three of theirs I've heard).

'Practice Makes Perfect' & 'French Film Blurred' are as sinister as anything from Pink Flag ('Reuters' included), 'I Am The Fly' and 'A Question of Degree' (The latter on the superior 'remastered' CD) are great; noisy, memorable and different.

As for 'Outdoor Miner' - woo. It's only 1.44 minutes long (Though the 'long version' stands at a Yes-defeating 2.55 minutes in length!) but every second is divine, pop music without the blandness, unoriginality or uh, popularity either.

Fantastic stuff.

gotta disagree on "Mercy". that's a gripping song. very grim. read the lyrics. it obsessed me for weeks."a midnight transvestite".

And BIG BLACK covered "Heart Beat"!, why? I don't know, its not the most riviting song in the free world and I'd hate to rain on anyones parade but am I the only person who thinks "I Am The Fly" is a little um, lame? I mean THE FLY?, asks imaginary friend, who is looking through Elvis Presley movies trying to find "Blue Hawaii" (*message to self, find new imaginary friend*) this one, for no good reason, I grab the least. It doesn't have Stink Flags Spontaneity or 155s breadth and depth, but don't listen to me, most of my top 73 albums ended up on the ONE vote page. Notice how I use the "Buel" method of reviewing reviews by cleverly talking about anything except the actual album. Someone text me the other day with SFHRN. Being a liberal free spirited sort "Practice Makes Perfect" "Outdoor Miner" and "Mercy" are worth the admisson price alone. (99p for a CDr)

Comment: Why is it that, whenever there's a talent contest or something, and the contestant sings a "rap song", the audiance claps appreciatingly, no matter how good or bad it is?

My rating is, remember this is 1978 when sex was safe and flying was dangerous (although "Too Late" is fuckin superb and is it true that the Pope lipped synched the lyrics to "French Film Blurred" in his final public appearance?) of 8's

This album tears, in more ways than one. I'd go so far as to claim that Wire are the first alternative rock-sounding band ever--that is, the first band to have the style, the vibe, the theory, the looseness, and the "'tude" of what would later become our "hep" music of today. Kurt Cobain was listening close, I tell you ("Too Late"). As was My Bloody Valentine, ("Used To"), R.E.M. ("Outdoor Miner"), the Pixies ("Mercy"), Radiohead ("Heartbeat"), the Cure ("Marooned"), Joy Division ("Practice Makes Perfect"), and, of course, my friend's Kiss cover band (second half of Alive! that was burned on here by mistake).

Er, what I'm trring to say is, Wire don't give off a "late '70's punk/post- punk/bohemian/New Wave" vibe-thang. They give off a "modern '90's band of today" vibe-thang. They SOUND like a modern band of today, albeit with a strong Cockney accent. And THAT is bonus. You must agree.

All the songs on here are individually great. Problem is, they're out of order! Here, let me re-arrange the songs.

Practice Makes Perfect
French Film Blurred
Another the Letter
Men 2nd
Sand in My Joints
I Feel Mysterious Today
Being Sucked in Again

I am the Fly
Outdoor Miner
Used To
From the Nursery
Too Late

SEE??! Doesn't that just FLIP your NOODLE!?? I think it does.

And I like this album a lot better than Pink Flag. Flag has great guitar tone, but a few bad songs ("Surgeon's Guhl", title track, "102 Beats That"-- and R.E.M. improved on "Strange"). THIS, however re-invents good songwriting and arragemanship itself. Everyone, tell your friends: Wire ain't not half-bad a goldurn band. Their music is a LOT better than their album covers.

Which are okay, but not as good as their music.

Which rules. More than their

The most important thing about Wire is that they are the only band whose name doesn't have any consonants in it. As such, they are also the only band whose records you can buy if you don?t have any teeth.

Which is why they?re so beloved among new British bands. Their toothless prostitute mothers bought them these records when they actually wanted to get Journey.

Chairs missing RUUULLLLEES!

Now this is more like it! The punk's nearly all gone, and indeed they are more reminiscent of a young, non-wanky art band than a bunch o' British punks! Much, much more diverse musically than the last; hell of a musical development they made, and the diversity shows how many more ideas the band's packing. What I like best is the way the album presents itself as simplistic just like Pink Flag did, but repeated listens reveal much more neat little touches and tricks than the aforementioned.

"Chairs Missing" is also a great title; it's hard not to think that of the band after listening to it. The uber-spooky elements of 154 slyly crop up on such numbers as "Practice Makes Perfect" and "French Film Blurred," and for me this sort of heightens their scariness; it's like the band as a collective is slipping further and further into insanity with each release, and this one shows them losing their last grip on sanity. OK, maybe that's overstating it a bit, but you get my point!

As for the diversity claim, few bands have ever filled an album with such a huge plethora of styles: "Practice Makes Perfect" reminds me of those Russian/Eastern European dances jigs things with its sharp, steady guitar arpeggio; "French Film" is incredible in how it slips in and out of anxiety from its otherwise quite mellow mood (like people do in real life! This is real art!) -- scary song, especially the way it builds and builds its tension as it plays and then suddenly cuts out;"Another the Letter" is near indescribable, like Kraftwerk gone mad with a guitar and synth; "Heartbeat" and "Used To" verge on ambience without really slipping into it; "Outdoor Miner" is a beautiful little ballad (and trumped by the longer version with a gorgeous piano line); "I Am the Fly"....what the fuck is that? Is it the Birthday Party covering Kraftwerk? Warped electro-hard-rock? Aww, why am I trying to describe it?!?! Just listen to the song if you want to know; try to stop yourself singing "Oi Am the floiy! Oi am the floiy!" along with them. Couldn't do it? Bet you put on a mockney accent too, right?

I wouldn't like to pick favourites because they're all at least great -- "Mercy" is the only number which fails to impress me quite as much as the rest -- but if forced I'll pick the songs I mentioned above. This is a truly great album, more interesting than Punk Floydg and more consistently great than Look At Our Sparse Album Artwork!, and as such it's by far the best album Wire will ever release; screw those who think otherwise! The high on the next one strike me as higher, but its the lows that follow suite (in lowness...), although not hugely. An easy ten, a real keeper.

Add your thoughts?

154 - Restless 1979.
Rating = 9

Hi! I'm a bass player named Graham Lewis and I'm going to turn Wire into a goth band! Sure I've been with the band since the beginning and I suppose that energetic "punk" rock had its place a couple of years ago, but we're older now and more mature! And I'm going to show that maturity by writing songs that are deadly slow and morbid, complete with almost no drumbeat and my own personal vocals that are mostly just spoken in a low baritone! Sure, the other guys in the band may try to spruce it up a bit with a catchy chorus or upbeat pop and/or punk song every once in a while, but I have my hand in over half of the songs on this album and I am insisting that the overall mood be not just cold but slow and really, really depressing! It's to everybody's benefit, I suppose, that for the most part I'm a good songwriter. "I Should Have Known Better," for example, will totally creep you out while still being much more effective than the Beatles song of the same title! Likewise, "Single K.O." may sound like a Joy Division song, but your jaw will drop at its catchy angry feel and odd vocalisms in the chorus. But whatever you do, don't listen to "Indirect Enquiries," "The Other Window" or that one bit in "A Touching Display" where the guitar is totally out of key. They're not just slow and arty; they're downright amateurish and filled with a trash bag of suck! However, I'd venture to say that every other song on here, by both myself and the other members of this band, actually surpasses our previous work in terms of melodic emotion and instrumental interplay interplay. Goth, sure, but excellent goth with really neat guitar sounds and dramatic tones. As such, I'll forgive myself for a few weak moments and give myself a 9.


Reader Comments

cavanee@co.mecklenburg.nc.us (Eric Cavanaugh)
Hee hee hee.

Certainly one of the least known by the "dumbest buy the mostest" crowds, but still one of the most copied bands by the musical literati. Plus they f&*king ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCK! OK, this one is kinda sludgy, but not as slow as the members solo projects. After Pink Flag I can forgive the later transgressions into the various manscapes. The drummer has the best name.

A Bell is a cup, until it goes solo.

Have you heard the stuff they did with Matt Johnson pre-The The? How about the This Mortal Coil covers of Wire. Zowie!

If you can't stand "The Other Window" on 154, I think you should give it a looksee on The Peel Sessions or Behind the Curtain - it was once a full-fledged (downright rocking, no less) SONG! A good one, too.

Exactly: my CD of Pink Flag for some reason did not have the solid rocking outtake "dot-dash," which is why I copied it before selling this redundant greatest hits package. Oh, but I did copy that indespensible version of 12xu. Why? Because that was their FIRST EVER recording, ding-dong. It was from a Live at the Roxy record that was supposed to showcase all this new "Punk Talent" (although only X-ray Spex and Wire deserved to be on it). This is an impossibly important historical document for anyone who is interested in this stuff, and its sheer rarity insures that there's no other way it'll see the light of digitized day any other way (am I rhyming?) Incedently, the other track recorded was "Lowdown"; it'll make some record collecting whore happy to track it down. Oh, one other thing: This version is actually really good. I don't know who "Lee Panaeda" is, but the reverb on Colin's voice puts an awsome menace into it, plus the first 15 seconds sound like Flipper!

clauc000@mail.uni-mainz.de (Vlad)
The initial comment sounds like a caricature of "Two People In A Room" to me.

What is so bad about "A Touching Display"? I think, it's some sort of a masterpiece in combining text and music, so please don't feel annoyed, if I add my own interpretation: It starts the way, a pleasant love song could begin, with neary nice and sleazy chords, relaxed guitars (sometimes with effects, later symptomatic for the synthi pop band, "A Flock Of Seagulls") and a promising percussion intro. But if there really has been the initial intention to awake romantic feelings, they become stripped down layer by layer, as if a qualified torturer practices his dark arts.

At first, the change of the bass guitar and first, decent drum intrusions end this hopeful sequence, manufacturing some type of Hitchcock atmosphere, which kepps you guessing, what might impend now. Then a synthesizer breaks in, with the tune and frequence usually taken for love songs, but instead abused as a threatening howling. It is accompanied with the slow, but impelling rhythm, and the undertow of the bass line precures a tension of unease. Accordingly, the condition of a wannabe romance is described in the text, still with intrinsic traces of hope, but on the other hand with the consciousness, that it might fail because of the unability to communicate (or even "let the heart speak"). It is not cried in a desperate manner, as Robert Smith or Andrew Mc Cluskey might have done it; it is sung rather stoically, but with melodical stretches typical for a love song. In this part, the keys try to precure a romantic background with sometimes even sweet harmonies more accustumed to a string orchestra. But the conflict between inner passion and outer frigidity begins to drill it's way outwards, at first in unnatural spelling of single words ("aside- sss", "massaagge", "sqeezesssss"), which might indicate a lack of concentration by the part of the vocalist.

Then suddenly the bass guitar becomes rough, gnawing and outright dominant, as the singer turnes to more recently happening events, foreshadowing the failure of the whole affair. The "touching display", which must have some importance, as it has been extracted as the song title, becomes the location of the long feared misfortune, that the wanted lover leaves, although they have been "so close", but the desire still had found no way out of the mind, which seems to be castle and jail alike.

"Colouring my thoughts predominantly grey" - And then finally the desperation breaks free, and the vocalist utters short, but basic sentences about the nature of his yearning ("I'm fighting bravely. Will she save me? From what or who? I do not know!"). The part of the guitars here seems to torment him like pressing voices in his mind.

A calm down follows again, as the track turns into an instrumental, but it is only a deceiving one. The bass guitar breaks out, combined with drums lashing as self reproaches, and a little later, the synths start to howl as haunting ghosts. And the whole agony seems to find to no ends, with an eclipse, as the bass player hits his accoustic lash some tacts more than usual. When the song finally finds to an end, and the last guitar hammers beat down less frequently to the screaming keys, it resembles the wake from a nightmare.

If this song isn't art (and brilliant), then whatever is art? Well, I think, the only reason, the 154 is not defined as 'gothic' is the time of it's release. In 1979, Joy Division and Siouxsie & The Banshees just began to lable their music this way (and Bauhaus stumbled accident by into it, as "Bela Lugosi Is Dead" originally was meant as a joke), while comparable contemporary bands like Pere Ubu or Swell Maps usually were defined as "post punk". Also, not all the tracks of this Album clearly fit into the according clichees set up by the music press: "Two People In A Room" is punky, "The 15th" (with Colin Newman playing out his preference for writing enigmatic lyrics) and "A Mutual Friend" (which resembles the original version of "Lorries" very much) are nice pop songs, "Map Ref. 41° 93° W" a classic ear worm and "Once Is Enough" and "On Returning" are examples of weird, but taking rock. But then, how to define gothic? Even XTC did goth songs ("Complicated Game"), and nowadays it is used as a pool mixing together styles of nearly all genres (Depeche Mode next to Mystere De Voix Bulgares next to HIM next to Marilyn Manson next to Illuminate etc. etc.), as long as there might be a morbid tendency in them (and even this is not necessary). Even Gary Numan and OMD can be found on gothic samplers, and the head of the latter band was responsible for bringing the Atomic Kitten over us. One word to Colin Newman and This Mortal Coil. In my personal point of view, I don't like the cover version of "Alone" as much as the original, as the introvertive melancholy was dropped for something sounding more self indulgent in my ears. But on the other hand, Mister Newman seemed to have been very bored, as he recorded "Not Me", while TMC - very unusual for their standards - pepped it up to a rocking pop song (due to Manuela Ricker's [Xmal Deutschland] punky guitar and Robbie Grey's [Modern English] passionate vocals above all), that I wished to have found somewhere in the charts.

But in the end, there is a question I have: In the homepage dealing with the history of the Roxy Club (by the way, the classic album has been rereleased with bonus tracks on a second CD by Sanctuary Records [CMDDD353]) it is mentioned, that Wire originally have consisted of five members, with a totally drunk frontman, and after being advised to prepare better, they reappeared without him. Did he also confess to the "art school concept", or were Wire originally more traditionally punk orientated?

irontyrant@earthlink.net (Michael Grefski)
I'd just like to point out that after 20 odd years of making mix tapes for friends, Wire's tune "On Returning" has been included on almost all of them. This must, in some minor way, mean something.

For ONCE in your life, DON'T listen to Mark Sunshine Superman Prindle, how can this NOT be their best? EVERY song is a masterpiece. This combines power and beauty which only prehaps, Pere Ubu's, "Modern Dance" comes close to equaling. Where as Pink Flag sounds (and is) brilliantly simple, this sounds brilliantly complicated and every song is packed with little extras, with again Mike Thorne (and others) doing the "Brian Eno" (as in synthesiser touches on the first two Roxy Music albums, "Roxy Music" and the seminal "For Your Pleasure" before Bryan Ferrari booted him out because at every live gig, the crowd would chant "Eno!, Eno!, Eno!") From the delicate strains of "I Should Have Known Better" you just know, that this, is going to be good. Listen to the attention to detail on "Single O.K", touch base with "The 15th", wallow in "A Mutual Friend", scare yourself listening to "Indirect Enquiries" and reminisce about times gone by on the wonderful "Blessed State". "A total eclipse arrives now and Niagara falls, no loss of life yet and no further calls" Lets just think about that for a moment. I don't think that, thats goth. For some good goth?!? try Bauhaus' "Burning From The Inside" (especially "She's In Parties" and "Slice Of Life") hoochie mama. clauc000 nails the epic "A Touching Display" (sit in a darkened room with this cranked right up (with some big arse speakers) and I'm sure the GOOD LORD HIMSELF, sits with you listening) If there IS one song which is slightly annoying, it's Newmans, "Once is Enough" and the bonus tracks on this rereleased cd version, don't add much either, except that each band member produces one rubbishy song each, like some inhouse joke, "Song 1" "Get Down" "Lets Panic Later" "Small Electric Piece" and then, altogether on the worthy "Go Ahead" but more is better, right?...And I'm spent, but if you sauntered here by mistake, looking for the WEEN reviews, relax, your in good hands

Comment: One of the, hands down, top 10 albums of all time, a must have.

My rating is the "The 15th", ''Two People in a Room'', ''On Returning'', ''Blessed State!!!'', ''Map Ref. 41N 93W'' ''40 Versions'' of 10s

Your review is interesting because it's the only one I could find that referred to the album as "goth." I would most definitely agree although the minority of punchy/energetic songs ("On Returning," "Map Ref 41N 93W," "Two People In A Room") seem to be going against this grain. Still, it's hard not to think of other 1979 goth material ("Unknown Pleasures," Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead," the minor key stuff on the first Cure album) when listening to this for comparison. It's very cold and dark stuff in its own right.

I think this is a near-excellent album and would hand it a 9 on your scale; most of its tracks are very good and only a couple of iffy experiments ("The Other Window," "Indirect Enquiries") mar it from being a 10. I was only marginally interested in Wire after hearing "Pink Flag," so I'm really glad I got ahold of it. Tying into the "goth" theme mentioned above, the most interesting thing about the album is actually its date of release. It serves as great evidence of just how much Wire really were on the cutting edge of "post punk" in 1979--it seems like the first album of the 1980s, or a predictor of much of the upcoming decade ("The 15th" in particular, and I'd look to the bass and synth work on much of the album as well.) If I had no idea when the album had come out, I would have guessed after initial listens that it had come out in, say, 1983, although it really doesn't seem terribly dated ("Once Is Enough," however, sounds like that godawful punk dance shit the kids were dancing to in "The Breakfast Club.") It's hard to imagine stuff like the Cure's "Pornography" without this, and Joy Division's "Closer" seemed to borrow from "154" as well.

Also, Pedro Andino's reader comment for Henry Rollins' "Human Butt" is the sickest thing I've ever read on your website. Does he still send in comments?

I'm sure the discussion on your Wire page is pretty old now but I just wanted to add my thoughts about 154's "The Other Window" as there doesn't seem to be anyone sticking up for it here. I really like it - the drumbeat is so off and sickly sounding and the lyrics are pretty damn haunting. Agreed pretty much about the rest of the album though - brilliant. Goth without the dodgy, er, goth-isms.

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The Peel Sessions - Strange Fruit 1990
Rating = 7

Did you people hear about this? I read it on a political blog this morning and couldn't believe my ears. Apparently, the Reagan family started when Ronald Reagan farted. They all became retarded - the Reagan family. Why was this information not released before the election!? Would we really have elected Ol' Wrinklebag had we known that his entire family -- little Ronnie, little Maureen, little adopted Michael, little Pattie, possibly even big Nancy(!) -- were not only developmentally disabled (troubling enough in itself) but honest-to-God flatulence in human form!?!? I for one would certainly have voted for Carter that year, and Mondale that other year. No wonder the ozone layer looked like Swiss Cheese, with a bunch of toots in the White House!

So I was reading the new Wired this morning (featuring a great interview with "Wired Al" Yankovic) when it suddenly occurred to me, "Say. Isn't there some CD I'm supposed to be reviewing today?" Then I flipped through Bob Woodward's Wired and got yelled at by Joan Crawford for using a wire hanger. After that, I told a fib and had to toss my flaming pants onto a telephone wire, even as some woman asked me, "Wire you doing that?" No no, keep reading. This gets hilarious.

So I was peeling this banana and listening to David Peel's Have A Marijuana LP when I suddenly realized, "No, I'm sure there was some CD I was supposed to review today." So I hopped in my car, peeled down the street, peeled an orange, peeled a tangerine, peeled a grapefruit and listened to another album by David Peel (possibly The Pope Smokes Dope). No, hang on. In just a second you'll be like, "Did Dave Barry write this? Because this is funny, is why I'm asking."

So after 5-10 heated S&M sessions, I read a book about the South's attempted secession from the Union, and ate a bunch of onions that I found in the cesspool - you might call them "cess-ions" for short. Then I took a shit on the floor and remembered, "I know what I was supposed to review! Lovescape by Neil Diamond! I don't own it though."

Okay, now that I've earned a position as head writer on a top TV sitcom, let's get to the review.

It's no exaggeration to say that Wire are five hundred thousand years old and weigh 4,000,000 pounds, but these John Peel Radio Sessions date from much earlier in their career. The disc compiles three sessions and features one Pink Flag song ("106 Beats That" for some reason), two Chairs Missings, four 154s, one great rare rock-punker, and one underdeveloped 15-minute piece of made-up ear-goulash that thankfully never found a proper release until now (18 years ago).

The crazy thing about it though, and why it might interest you as a student of the arts, is that aside from "106 Beats That," all of these Peel performances pre-date the albums on which the songs would eventually appear! As such, we get to hear early, un-final versions of such classics as "The Other Window" (in an uptempo new wave/punk version that beats all heck out of the terrible goth 154 version!), "I Am The Fly" (with a disappointingly less hooky lead guitar line!), and "Indirect Enquiries" (which still stinks!). Also, as stated above, "Culture Vultures" is a wonderfully catchy little raritiy ("What we do/Is what we do/No more no less/To hear to view"), and it's shocking to think they just threw it away rather than recording it for Chairs Missing. Maybe they considered it too Pink Flaggy? No clue.

I'm sure not "Crazy About" the 15-minute snoozer "Crazy About Love" though. Maybe it would've worked as a three-minuter, but two simple foreboding bass lines (chorused like early Cure) accompanied by nothing but improvised cymbal tapping, whistly swooshes and electronic noises for a quarter-hour just doesn't make for engaging listening. Colin and Graham trade off vocals though, which is pretty rare in their discography. Also it includes the lyric "Some undies fade on a piece of land," which is pretty rare in their pornography.

In conclusion, you should buy The Peel Sessions because "He might replace the old with the moon" and "An evening of fun in the Metropolis of your dream" are among the greatest Wire passages ever, and both appear on The Peel Sessions.

(and 154.)

(So I guess that wasn't a very compelling argument.)

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On Returning (1977-1979) - Restless 1989.
Rating = 9

It would be nigh near impossible to ruin a compilation of tracks from the first three Wire albums, but they give it their best shot! Why oh why oh why did they include "Feeling Called Love," "The Other Window" and "A Touching Display"? Those are like three of the shittiest songs they've ever done! And as a further "huh???", why in the name of all that is holy except for Jesus Christ did they include a horrid live rendition of "12XU" in lieu of the spit-shiningly scorchin' studio version that wowed Ian MacKaye back in '77? Piles of fiddle-dee-dee! They'd just better be good and glad that there are 18 other great songs on here or somebody's ass might end up wrapped around my finger.

Reader Comments

bougops@bu.edu (Greg Bougopoulos)
I just want to mention that this compilation does have 'Dot Dash' on it. And the longer version of 'Outdoor Miner' which is the tops and one of the best pop singles ever.

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Behind The Curtain - EMI 1995.
Rating = 9

You know what my favorite Wire is?


For those of you out there in TuberculosisLand who always wished that The Wired Band had recorded another album like Pink Flag, you haven't seen anything again! Behind The Curtain is a 31-track collection of outtakes and demos from the first three albums. The punk stuff is wonderful peppy punk that could've and SHOULD've been officially released SOMEWHERE along the line -- at least as bonus tracks on the CD or something. You'll be banging your Ramones foot to such Ramones shorties as "Too True," "Just Don't Care," "TV," "New York City" and "After Midnight," with a smile on your face and your boots filled with purple lace! (which, if I recall correctly, means that you're a "non-racist" skinhead, so be sure and follow that uniform code if you desire to be a "non-racist" skinhead.")

And the early demos are pretty great too, especially if you've heard the first three albums a zillion times and can pick out the subtle but IMPORTANT (life-threatening) differences. Like how the original version of "40 Versions" has - GODDAMMIT, I HATE WHEN I USE THE SAME WORD TWICE IN A SENTENCE!

Like how the debut edition of "40 Versions" has DRUMS! The song actually MOVES! And the whole group doesn't annoyingly get together to say "Niagara Falls" like they do in the final 40 versions of "40 Versions" - GODDAMMIT, I HATE WHEN I USE THE SAME TURD TWICE IN A JOB INTERVIEW!

And in "Two People In A Room," he doesn't shout and yell like in the final version. And "Once Is Enough" is faster on here. And so is "I Feel Mysterious Today," I'm pretty sure (though I didn't check my speedometer while listening). And "Indirect Inquiries" still sucks the dick. Which reminds me of that time in college when my really nice suitemate Brian noticed that I'd been hanging out with a girl a lot and he asked me, "Is she your new girlfriend?" Before I could respond to his gentle, sensitive question, his redneck roommate whose name I've thankfully forgotten, shouted out the touching query, "ARE YA LAYIN' 'ER THE DICK?"

Truth be told, I wasn't layin' 'er the dick, nor did I unfortunately ever lay 'er the dick, but then again I also didn't get in trouble with the Dean for taping a piece of paper onto the bathroom door that read "This bathroom is no longer segregated. No Niggers allowed (except the cleaning lady)." Are you starting to understand why I hate the South so much? I spent the first 23 years of my life there. I'm never going back.

As for this Wire CD, you HAVE to hunt it down NOW. It's not a bootleg; it's just an out-of-print import that it might take you some time to find. But it has SIXTEEN EARLY WIRE SONGS THAT YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD (and they're AWESOME -- except for the uninteresting punker "Love Ain't Polite," the dull and lengthy "Underwater Experiences" and the only so-so Ramones-alike "Mary Is A Dyke.") Plus you get 2 Pink Flag demos (the title track and one called "Oh No Not So" whose music was combined with different lyrics for official release), 6 Chairs Missing demos and 7 from 154 -- including an early version of "A Touching Display" that is honestly A GOOD SONG. It's more rhythmic and most importantly when it gets to that dramatic change in the middle, the singer guy doesn't move up to his awful higher octave and that unforgivably out-of-tune lead guitar doesn't come in. Buy it! You're gonna like it - FOR FOOD!

Not my fault the F and G keys are so close together on my computer typewriter. GUCK YOU!!!!

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Document & Eyewitness - Mute 1981.
Rating = 7

Live concert recorded right before they broke up for the first time. Godawful recording of some really cool new songs -- not goth! More like the Pink Flag stuff but played rock speed instead of punk speed. Some awfully catchy tunes that would probably have sounded great with real studio Wire recording. As it is, you can still hear the swell riffs poking through. Except during the more "avant-garde" numbers, which come across on this distorted, crappily recorded tape as worthless clitter-clatter clutter. "Eels Sang Lino"? That's just not a good song! Especially as it is presented on here, with the screamed vocals outblasting all the instruments and the drums completely buried way off in the background like the victim of a gruesome muuuuuh-der.

Do you have a gruesome mother? Give her some fake boobs for her birthday. There's nothing like a big set of knobs to spruce up the ugliest dame at the shindig.

Or are knobs testicles? I always get confused about that. Take note - a big set of testicles won't spruce up any dame at all.

Reader Comments

clauc000@mail.uni-mainz.de (Vlad)
It is for the mightbe hit "Revealing Trade Secrets", the madman's humming "Piano Tuner" and the eerie upspeed version of "Underwater Experiences" with it's wild shouts, that I like Document & Eyewitness. The rest of the songs suffer from the often bootleg style accoustics, and 12XU... well, I must be to less professional in the arts to find a sense in cutting the track with some unimportant talk talk. "Eels Sang Lino" simes to mimic "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha Ha" in my ears. "Our Swimmer" sounds (in the live version) already drowned to me, with no watched emotion, and "Two People In A Room" I prefer as studio version. "We Meet Under Table" - One of the tracks later completely reworked for Colin Newman's solo projects - might be something to listen to after consuming dope in an earth pipe, but as my drug experiences largely base on alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and guaranį, I find it hard to like the song. And the rest... Well, I simply can't remember! The bonus studio tracks on the Compact Disc again show, that Wire really are able to write memorable songs.

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Turns And Strokes - WMO 1996.
Rating = 6

Well, awright! Here it is -- agayn. And it's called....


This CD is piss/Left off Document And Eyewitness. This CD is piss/Left off Document And Eyewitness. This CD is piss/Left off Document And Eyewitness. This CD is piss/LEFT OFFDOCUMENT AND WITNESS, YEAH!


Half punky, make you smile - Tedious goth is a pile. Half punky, make you smile - Tedious goth is a pile. Half punky, make you smile - Tedious goth is a pile. Half punky, make you smile - TEDIOUS GOTH IS A PILE, YEAH!






God, I fuckin' love Minor Threat. Rich, be sure and put this Minor Threat review in the Minor Threat section! Thanks Rich!

Reader Comments

thecheapercrisp@hotmail.com (Lurge)
That is the best god-damn review I have ever read.

Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Ah gotchoo in ah cawtige,
Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Ah gotchoo in ah coahnah,
Oh Noh noh noh!!!

absolute brilliance.

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Snakedrill EP - Mute 1986
Rating = 4

After five years of solo albums and Dome, Wire reunited with the exuberant "BING!" of their worst music ever. In fact, from now on I'm going to call it "mustic," because it's so musty and it smells like mustard. "Advantage in Height" is a neat dancey mix of treble and bass tones, but the promising bass-driven "A Serious of Snakes." collapses into boredom halfway through, "The Drill" is a tuneless sack of suck socks, and "Up to the Sun" is a sorry attempt to cash in on the "a capella sea shanty" trend so popular among today's pirate community.

On the bright side, here's some useless shit I wrote on Facebook, but with some bonus text that will allow you to use it as a eulogy for your grandfather:

"After all these years of politicians blaming society's violence on movies, music and video games, it'd be hilarious to learn it was their own 'toxic rhetoric' that was to blame the entire time. SPEAKING OF WHICH, GRANDPA MOLESTED ME EVERY NIGHT."

"Mark Prindle thinks that old arcade game 'Qix' should run for President. I WET MY BED 'TIL I WAS FORTY-TWO. TELL ME, IS THAT FAIR??"

"Mark Prindle just read that Neil Diamond spent four months composing 'I Am... I Said.' And the best rhyme he could come up with was 'Not even the chair'!? BECAUSE NOT EVEN THE CHAIR WAS SAFE WHEN GRANDPA HID UNDER IT WITH A HOLE CARVED IN THE CUSHION FOR HIS PENIS TO STICK THROUGH."

"Mark Prindle just had the greatest luck of anybody in the world ever, as he dug through the neighbors' trash and found a copy of 'The Ladies Man' on VHS. PSYCH! GRANDPA DIDN'T REALLY MOLEST ME. I WAS JUST CRANKIN' YOUR WANG!"

"Mark Prindle just watched 'The Ladies Man' and is now feverishly working on a time machine in order to go back to 2000 and award it 'Best Picture.' HEY, ANY BROADS OUT THERE WANNA DO IT WHEN THE SERVICE IS OVER? I HAVE A CAMARO!"

"Mark Prindle just filled his eyes with that Chinese horror film 'Double Vision.' No disguise for that Chinese horror film 'Double Vision.' CHECK THIS OUT - I'LL JAM A STICK IN GRANDPA'S MOUTH AND DO SOME VENTRILOQUISM!"

"Mark Prindle just saw a banner on his profile page for 'An Evening with Jason Mewes.' Apparently Jack Kevorkian is now working in the Facebook ad sales department. 'HI GRANDPA!' 'OH, HI LIL' PARDNER!' HA HA! AM I RIGHT? HA HA!"


Add your thoughts?

The Ideal Copy - Enigma 1987.
Rating = 6

When they followed up their lousy EP with a merely "pretty good" full-length, it was sadly clear that Wire weren't nearly as good as they were the first time around. Now they sounded more like Killing Joke during their synth years. Overproduced, overdramatic, overkeyboarded mid-80s music, some catchy, some not, never anywhere NEAR as cleverly put together as the original Wire material. With those first three albums, you always got the feeling that there was something otherworldly perfect about the music. With this, the music just seems obvious. It doesn't always SUCK (some of the songs -- the moody "Ahead," eerie "Feed Me" and upbeat "Cheeking Tongues" for example -- are actually really darned good), but even the really catchy numbers are no more innovative than, say, Simple Minds or some other long-forgot mid-80s synth rock band of that Elke. INXS maybe? With the singer who died while jerking off?

(Note to self: Finish jerking off before dying.)

Reader Comments

At least Killing Joke actually managed to have hits!

clauc000@mail.uni-mainz.de (Vlad)
In the danger of making myself unpopular, I have to admit, that I LIKE The Ideal Copy (although I was very disappointed, as I heard the new material 1986 live in Hamburg for the first time). It's one of Wire's another turns and strokes, this time trying to play pop. Of course, it is "typically eighties"; the intro of "Ahead" even seems to cite an OMD track ("The Avenue"). It has an own approach, as if a totally different band recorded it, than the one in the Seventies. Most of the tracks consist of all the ingredients necessary for being played in the radio, but on the other hand, each of them is very individual.

The dreamlike sung "Point Of Collapse" (with the yearning harmonica synth sound) and "Madman's Honey" (I really thought, these were the Legendary Pink Dots, when I first heard it!) seem to pisstake the "Wavepop" of the first half of that decade. "Ahead" (and later "Kidney Bingos" with his Colin Newman text comparible to "Lorries") is an impacting, chart fitting meteorite. "Feed Me" was not without reason on my full moon cemetary tape, as it is "Gothic" in it's purest form with it's weird perspective and the shock effects to the quiet rhythm. "Ambitious" has a catching rhythm and somewhat amusing lyrics. "Cheeking Tongues" is a powerful rocker with sampled gag effects (If they just would not dugga again!), which I missed on "The A- List". "Still Shows" tries to be something peaceful with only hinted threats ("Mysterious terrors thrive"), which seem to become musically just a little more sensible in the end. "Over Theirs" is to be the only track, which seems to refer to older traditions, but in my humble opinion, this type of song they performed much better on "Chairs Missing", so it's the track I like least on the LP. Alas, it was this song, which foreshadowed the trend of the following two albums and this "Drill" thing, which generally tend to bore me (with the exceptions of a few tracts as "The Offer", "German Shepherds" and, of course, "Kidney Bingos") On CD, an alternative version of "Ahead" and the tracks of the "Snakedrill"- and "Ahead"- Twelve Inches are added. I have to admit, I watch most of them more as experiments to explore a new direction, than as worth remembering. The exceptions are "Ahead (II)", which seems to be a joke about romantic synthi pop (and with drums, I consider it really amusing to imagine the young Kylie Minogue as vocalist), and of cause "Drill" with it's punk reminiscence (allthough it's overlenght vexates me a little bit - I'm really no fan of Duggas). "A Serious Of Snakes" and "Ambulance Chasers" sound unfinished to me. "Advantage In Height" seems to lack inspiration. "Up To The Sun"/ "Vivid Riot Of Red" mimics something beautiful, but is it on purpose, that they seem to miss the right chords (I remember "Song 1" and "Get Down", where mistunes were intended)? "Feed Me (II)" lacks a bit the horror film tension of the studio version, perhaps because of the speeded up keyboard bongos and Colin Newmans bored singing.

Of course, The Ideal Copy is something completely different from that, Wire did before, but then, it's a trademark of them to changes their styles like menswear (by the way, which song might Menswear's "Day Dreamer" refer to?). If it is watched detached from Wire's history, it is a rather good album in my opinion.

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A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck - Enigma 1988.
Rating = 6

A little warmer than the last one, with a touch more openness and more nice clean guitars in the mix, as opposed to outdated mid-80s CRANK keyboard sounds. Still lacking in brilliance though. The best I can say is that this is a better-than-average synth-based "new romantics" type album with a pawful of excellent tunes ("Silk Skin Paws," "The Queen Of Ur And The King Of Um," "Come Back In Two Halves"). That darn singer Colin Newman fellow sure has developed a really nice voice. Still high enough to sound like a human being (as opposed to the fuckin' gothass bass player, who sounds like late-period Dave Vanian with no soul in his body), but cool enough to sound like a human being who can sing.

And by "New Romantics," I don't mean that it sounds like "I Hear The Secrets That You Keep When You're Talkin' In Your Sleep." I certainly understand why you would think that's what I meant, seeing as how the Romantics are the most popular musical band of the last four centuries, outlasting such luminaries as the Beatles, Civ and the Rolling Stones, but nevertheless I was referring to the entire "genre" of music. For example, when you say "I really like that Chicago song 'Stay The Night,'" you of course mean that you like the song as recorded by every single person dwelling in the city of Chicago, IL.

Yes, including Steve Albini. Stop bringing up Steve Albini.

Reader Comments

bougops@bu.edu (Greg Bougopoulos)
It is a little to poppy but I like it somewhat. In addition to the ones you're partial to, I like "Follow the Locusts" and "Kidney Bingos" I'll give it a low 7.

hemingerm@AyresAssociates.com (Pantherboy)
A friend of mine once made a startling point that the use of the chiming guitars on this album make it sound like African music. The guitars are as much percussion instruments as the drums or synths. These guys remained incredibly arty even when they were sounding like New Order. I just can't get enough of that wall-of-one-riff guitar on "It's A Boy" - especially the frenzied ending. Don't make the mistake of not giving this album enough attention. It's best on rainy days.

I'm suppposed to be working and I keep reading these reviews. Thanks, Mark.

been whipping off my list of Top 73 Albums Of My Life (up to about 90 - will have to do some whittling) and of course this album shall be on it. It's way nicer than Ideal Copy, which i find kind of chilly and remote and arty and daft. this one is warm, fuzzy, trippy, and as the sticker they stuck on the shrink wrap proclaimed by some early reviewer "Wire expands your mind without blowing it". Yeah. it's got Byrds chimey guitars, neat melodies you can hum along to, cool modern music-type blips and blurps. basically every song is a little world one can get lost in. What more can you ask for from a record? it all might have something to do with the fact that it was my first Wire purchase at the time it came out and i still remember the occasion; a trip into calgary, alberta to see mojo nixon and skid roper from the tourist/Rockies town Lake Louise where we lived and worked that summer. rode in the back of a jeep, ate shrooms at the show, ended up on stage - i have a photo - and abused some hotel room. ahhh, the late 80s were kind to us (when we weren't getting arrested for drunkenly helping ouselves to a banff motel bbq buffet, but that's another story). i like wire. i love this album and think amongst the dross coming out of the UK at the time, deserves at least a 9.

I hope I'm sending you mails the right way. I don't really know much about the internet, so fuck me.

A Bell is slightly too poppy, but I like it somehow. I like the guitars on this album. I really don't have much to say.. probably a high 5.

Also, YEAH! Stop bringing up Steve Albini on almost every review page! though it's funny as fuck!

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It's Beginning To & Back Again - Enigma 1989
Rating = 6

Tards that they are, Wire on this one took a bunch of live concert recordings and recorded OVER them with new music in the studio, boringing up a bunch of good songs in the process. As a saving grace, they tossed three nice new Bell Is A Cup-style studio tracks onto the CD, including the hit MTV video "Eardrum Buzz"!!!!! I despised that song when I was young, but it sounds really great on here. Which means it would probably sound like a laughable piece of wongdiggidydingwing on Chairs Missing.

So remember, the next time you're out on a first date with a girl and you want to break the ice, lean across the table and shout, "Just let me know when you want to rub my wongdiggidydingwing!"

Reader Comments

bougops@bu.edu (Greg Bougopoulos)
I like the redone versions on this release, except for "Public Place", which sucked in the first place, and "Illuminated" which is a disgraceful way to use space on an album. The 12-inch version of "Eardrum Buzz" is great and "The Offer" just may be one of the prettiest songs Wire have done. It's no "Outdoor Miner" or "Mannequin" but it stands up pretty high. Another low 7.

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Manscape - Restless 1990.
Rating = 2

My fiancee's review first: "This sounds like Phil Collins on heroin - It really sucks! I give it a negative 10! It's definitely worse than 'Hanky Panky'!"

Now my review: THIS ALBUM HAS NO GODDAMNED MELODIES ON IT!!!! It's just slow, lifeless, cheesy synth beats (they should have been ashamed of themselves releasing something this "1983" in 1990) with cheesy synths on top. Is there even actually a band playing on this record? I sure don't hear one! I also hear WAY too many songs with that bass player singing. Bad bad stuff. There's one "punky" song but it goes on for over SEVEN MINUTES.

Let's just say that they've long since forgotten what made them so great in the first place.

Reader Comments

clauc000@mail.uni-mainz.de (Vlad)
I like Manscape better than A Bell Is A Cup..., IBTABA & The Drill, although it's not comparable to The Ideal Copy. "Life in the Manscape" has something of a pop song, if Colin Newman just found a better melody to sing along. The same problem he has on "Stampede", where the hidden potential drowns a bit in the monotony apart from that comparable to a refrain. "Patterns Of Behaviour" - The introducing track on the LP version - also is something with rhythms of the early Eighties, and Colin Newman still hasn't found a melody to sing to. But that finds to an end with the "Other Moments", a warm song for lonely summer evenings, but still more fastidious (Right word?) than the average pop song. "Small Black Reptile" is unique and intriguing with its fragmented music and Newmans ununusual way of singing - Another song from this album I like. In "Torch It!" they dare to pogo again after years of punk absence - Yes, it is too long, but still taking. "Morning Bell" is a pretty melody for waking up in sunshine after a night of boozing. "Where's the Deputation?" sounds, as if Wire don't like, what they perform, and it seems to lack inspiration (and that "Bomboboomboom!" is embarrassing). "What Do You See?" tries to be a dancefloor hammer and fails, especially as the bass player does not seem to perceive, that it's him at the microphone. "Goodbye Ploy" again is better with it's intrinsic dramatic tension, though they could have spent more time in evolving the melody (and breathtaking). "Sixth Sense" sounds typically Colin Newman with some sample gags in the background, and I like the outbursting refrain. "Children Of Groceries" sounds, as if Wire cover OMD (the third time, I mention this group in this context?) - I needed some time to listen to it, until I liked it, but it really isn't bad. The outro is the combination "You Hung Your Lights In The Trees/ A Craftman's Touch", and it seems to steal from "The Days Of Pearly Spencer". The CD version is longer than the LP version, and if the rhythm wasn't that experimental, it would be a good song to have sex to (Something very new for their style; I found it hard to imagine, being intimate to someone with "Dot Dash" or "A Touching Display" in the CD Player, and "12XU"... well, if you "get" someone in the corner [but don't forget to clean in the corners afterwards]...).

At least, Manscape has it's moments. Of course, it's not the inventing material from Harvest times, but then it's no boring commercial pop album either. And when I am forced to listen to Phil Collins, I sometimes wish him to be under drugs.

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The Drill - Mute 1991.
Rating = 6

This collection of recordings represent an exploration of 'DUGGA' - i.e. monophonic monorhythmic repetition. For years, I've wondered if "Dugga" is a real word or just a reference to the old Fall song "Repetition," wherein a young Mark Smith yowls that "President Carter DUGGA repetition." It's not actually President Carter he mentions in that particular line (although he IS mentioned elsewhere in the song, as who can resist singing about America's Finest Ever President In The World?), but somebody-or-other DUGGA repetition. BUT THAT'S GETTING OFF THE TOPIC AT HAND, WHICH IS THAT SHOW FRASIER. HOW ABOUT THAT SHOW FRASIER? WITH THAT KELSEY GRAMMAR GUY WHO SELLS COCAINE AND FUCKS LITTLE GIRLS UP THE ASS?

I should unwarn you if you are nervous - this album is NOT simply nine remixes of the song "The Drill." Although there are some electronic noises and melodic phrases that are reprised throughout the record, what you're really looking at is eight or nine completely different interpretations of the STYLE of the original track. There's the dancey-as-hell, catchy-as-Meat-Beat-Manifesto "In Every City?," the slow, slightly depressive "What's Your Desire?," the chopped-up inhuman mechanical drone and slice of "Arriving/Staying/Going?," the catchy multi-electronics cross-melody infections of "(A Berlin) Drill," the ridiculously, annoyingly happy cuteness of "Do You Drive? (Turn Your Coat" and "Did You Dugga?" (terrible song, by the way) and best of all (and by "best," I of course mean "Pete Best, the failed ex-Beatle) a disgusting shitty frog croaking noise called "Where Are You Now?" There's also a 12-minute hypnotic noisefest called "(A Chicago) Drill (Live)" and this one other song that I'm not gonna tell what the name is because I don't want you to know that it's "Jumping Mint?".


Wire have made much worse albums, and you're likely to find this one really cheap, so you may want to give it a whirl. Repetition can be awfully enjoyable when the electronic noises are this multi-layered and fun to listen to. Plus the inside CD booklet is this really cool thing where you open it up and it's totally white with nothing in there but a big waste of two pages where they could have put naked people. Wild, man! Wild, Man Fischer!

That means YOU, you dead-eyed fisher of men! Can God make a rock that He can't lift??!?!?! You can't see the forest for the trees! For the trees! You can't see the forest for the trees. You can't see the forest......


The kids love my Christian Smith references.

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The First Letter - Mute 1991.
Rating = 4

This is dance music for sensitive gay people and alternative girls. Like New Order or Love & Rockets or the Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode - that kind of disposable shit with a beat. But at least it HAS a beat, which is something Manscape certainly didn't have. And some of the songs contain neat repetitive synth noises! Not a total washout, though it is still pretty bad. Interesting note: one of the songs was a hit single!!! It's called "So And Slow It Grows" - if you don't recognize the title, you'll still recognize the song.

Oh yeah, the drummer had quit by this point so they shortened the band name to Wir. I can only say that it's a good damn thing The Fall didn't take a letter away every time somebody quit. They'd be like 52 negative letters by now.

Reader Comments

What country was 'So And Slow It Grows' a hit in? Certainly not the UK.

clauc000@mail.uni-mainz.de (Vlad)
I still can't remember, why I & a mate from the commune I lived in, liked "Take It", but we did it, and in respect for the person I have been then, I don't write anything bad about it. "So And So It Glows" is a nice pop song, although I still don't know, what the nursery text might be about. "A Bargain" starts very avantgarde (and this start lasts too long), until it changes into an upbeat song, that ends too fast. "Footsi- Footsi" sounds like a caricature of all those pop tracks, which are obvious shit, but are always played on the radio, until you are used to it (and combine memories with it) and find it better than the brilliand track you only have heard once - But still it's not bad. "Ticking Mouth" is my private highlight on this album. The Topos is similar to "A Touching Display" ("Close together we stand apart"), but here the angst is hidden, woven into a decent, but still dominant love song tapestry. The vocalist expresses some kind of sad resignation. Perhaps this is the other, more romantic side of "A Touching Display"? "It continues" seems to be a joke, as it is the opener of the second side of the LP. The rhythm is already familiar from "Ambitious", but the song has it's charm.

"Looking At Me" has the potential to be another single with a nice contrast between the melody of the refrain and the punky shouts in the rest of the track.

"Naked, Whooping and Such- Like" sounds like an alibi, so that the musicians can still be able to claim, they have not declined into a pop band. Well, there were times, their experiments were magnificent - This one is only boring to me.

I don't know, how to think about "Tailor made". Is this really a finished song? Sounds like a compromise between the band members, so the purposes of none of them are fulfilled. The same is to say about "No Cows On The Ice".

Finally "A Big Glue Canal" - It might be, I'd like it one day, but yet, this is not the case. It sounds ready, and it has some hooks that might find angles in my mind, if I just would find pleasure in listening several times to it...

B.Clements@bepp.co.uk (Bruno Clemente)
Very underrated. Surreal lyrics and some gripping music, despite what you might read elsewhere! I find it entrancing and addictive.

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The Third Day EP - pinkflag 2000
Rating = 6

If Satchmo became President, I'd move to a country where people more like Henry were president because Satchmo is clearly an asshole. But I know there's a lot of people who LOVE Satchmo and think Satchmo is standing up for their rights. But in my opinion, Satchmo is a fucking asshole trying to infringe upon our territory, even though David thinks Satchmo is trying to defend his territory from Henry. So me and Henry are going to move to a warmer climate that has better beaches.

That's my wife's argument against letting the kitty-cat next door become President.

Then we're gonna send a sneak attack to kill Satchmo after we leave. "Okay, bye! Miss you! Best wishes!" and then we'd send a contingent to kill them all. Henry could say to Charlie, "Okay Charlie, you go and bite Satchmo in the neck, even though you weigh two pounds less than him. You can do it! I'll send O'Keefe as your backup." My wife is pretty sure she doesn't want Satchmo The Cat to become President.

As for Wire, who cares?

No but really, this is a reunion CD ("On the third day, they rose again from the dead" - GET IT!?) featuring the old baggy Wires playing one Pink Flag song ("Pink Flag") twice (for no fucking reason at all since both versions are exactly the same), plus one each from Chairs Pissing and 15fuckyou plus one rare track entittied "Art Of Persistence" that is GReAT! It has a good uptempo rock beat with one guitar playing a few chords while the other plays a strange chord that changes the mood of the other chord, and a bass line that goes upward toughly, then a basic generic 3-note chorus. It's likeable, yet I have no clue how it actually goes! Nice loud trebly full guitar tones, in stereo. Crisp drums. Mix is so dry that it's empty when the guitars are silent (as in "Pink Flag" from Pink Flag on Pinkflag). Their voices are lower than they used to be (as age will do) and there are no keyboards. FIGHT WAR, NOT WARS! Wire always sang that, when they were named Crass.

Hi! My name's Dixon Pussy and I'd like to tell you a little bit about

Hi! My name's Ballsac Afloppin and I'd

Hi! Tits Mc

Hi! Jit

My wife is ashamed of me. She doesn't want her name associated with mine. She wants me to refer to her as "Brendar" and Henry as "Henrar." That hurts my feelings tremendously. You people aren't here and don't know how close to committing suicide I am right now.

I'm not close at all. But if I WERE, that would be awful.

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Read & Burn EP - pinkflag 2002.
Rating = 7

I guess they finally figured out that nobody likes their shitty keyboard music because this is a fuzzy, simplistic punkish rock-esque CD. Six songs, fantastic guitar tones (like on the first album!), crisp production values making the drums sound as fresh as a daisy and every song featuring AT MOST three chords and generally dragging on and on and repeating itself for more than three minutes. The Old Gray Mare - She Ain't What She Used To Be! Ain't What She Used To Be! Ain't What She Used To Be! The Old Gray Mare - She Ain't What She Used To Be! Now She's Dead And Stinky.

Which reminds me! I had the best idea about how to replace the World Trade Center. Let's replace them with 105-story-high piles of DEAD ARABS!!!!! (crowd: YEAH! WHOO! U! S! A! U! S! A!). I know you may be concerned about the smell, but you're not listening to me. Because if you'd been LISTENING, you would have heard my whole idea, which involves hiring a janitor to spray Lysol every once in a while and sweep the maggots and rotted teeth away every day.

OOOOO! NO! I'VE GOT IT!!! Let's replace it with two buildings the exact same size, but painted all sky blue and cloudy so nobody can see it to fly a plane into it!

HOLD THAT THOUGHT! I've got the PERFECT SOLUTION! Let's rebuild the World Trade Center the EXACT SAME WAY it was built before. "Oh, but you're just tempting fate if you do that!," you may be thinking, but AGAIN you aren't listening to me. The buildings would be perfectly safe. And why? Well, there's the genius of my plan! We SURROUND the World Trade Center with a bunch of TWO-HUNDRED-STORY OFFICE BUILDINGS!!!!! Fly a plane into the World Trade Center? They won't even be able to SEE the World Trade Center! FUCK YOU, The Arabs!!!!!

OH NO! I've got the best idea yet! Hold on - listen at this! Here's what we do, OK? We rebuild the World Trade Center the exact same way it was built before and then write "Allah Is Bonus" on the side!!!! What kind of Arab would run a plane through that? A NO-GOOD Arab at all, THAT's WHO!!

Oh wow! The ideas keep coming - it's like I was born with a brain inside my head and ever since then, it's been generating ideas almost DAILY! How about we make a commemorative memorial statue out of all the unsold copies of The First Letter that have been gathering spiderwebs since 1991?

Which brings us up to date on Wire. The songs are called "In The Art Of Stopping" (That one has three chords and reminds me of the duo Suicide but on guitar. It's almost generic Chuck Berry riffing but even simpler, and it has weird synth breaks that floop in out of nowhere. It's midtempo punk). They're also called "I Don't Understand" (THat one is slower and has three chords. It's okay but gets old as beans by the time the 3 minutes are up), "Comet" (HARDCORE SPEED! TIPPY TAPPY TIPPY TAPPY TIPPY TAPPY! Three chords on this one too. You'll notice from the getgo that the chord sequence is nothing special at all, but they play it so many times that by the end you'll be loving it. Don't ask me to explain how - I suspect it's either the catchy "And the chorus goes...." chorus, the liquid LSD that they put on all the new postage stamps, or the neat guitar tone) and "Germ Ship" (Finally a bass line! But the chord change is exactly like that old Loop song "Afterglow." Midtempo. And only TWO chords!).

(You know what I really hate? The phrase "Three Chords and the Truth." It's dopey, self-important and completely lacking anything even CLOSE to a sense of humor, like a tie that says "Fuck you" or a fart bag like at Spencer's.)

The songs on here are called "1st Fast" (and it IS fast! HARDCORE SPEED! TIPPY TAPPY TIPPY TAPPY TIPPY HEDRON! Only two chords, but great chords that float within and without each others' mix, crashing and bashing and fuzzing while a distorted bass carries the fairy cross the verses. See, I was trying to do a play on words with "Ferry Cross The Merse y," but I've never in my life seen any indication that Colin might be a sausage smoker) and finally "The Agfers (sic) Of Kodack (sic)," an okay midtempo thing with two different distortion tones (one is like a wah-wah pedal halfway up, when it's more like a "ewoo ewoo" pedal), three chords and that other guy with the lower voice singing through a distorted microphone. Could hardly even make it out as a microphone, it was so distorted! Looked like a pinecone or something!

In conclusion, Wire's members are far too removed from Pink Flag to come anywhere close to recapturing its spirits. Especially when they drag the goddamned songs on for fifty-eight billion years!!!!!

You know what song gets stuck in my head all the time? I don't even know the name of it - it's this song by Merrell Fankheuser and HMS Bounty where the chorus goes "Hey that's you - standing over there! Hey that's you - standing over there!" I don't even really like the song. But there it sits, still they ride.

So my final suggestion is to buy Pink Flag again and treat this thing as an entertaining but basically empty _expression of artistic and financial bankruptcy. But two of the songs are really fast so it gets a 7.

Reader Comments

thecheapercrisp@hotmail.com (Simon Burgess)
Are you sure you aren't so bitter at the large quantity of crap Wire that you've had to endure, that you're not just being a little unfair? Speaking as someone who went straight from the first three LP's to this, I'd like to say it totally rocks, especially 'I Don't Understand' - great riff, catchy-shouty vocals - and 'The Agfers of Kodack' - I love that dive bombing guitar break. The EP sounds great and the songs all have greatness in them - face it, you *are* bitter aren't you?

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Send - pinkflag 2003
Rating = 7

So I'm sitting in this big fuckin boat on the top of Mt. Ararat and this "God" asshole comes up and is all like, "Dude, you better start loading the animals in 'cuz I think Bush is totally gonna win again and shit." And I'm all like, "Hey man, have you heard this new Wire album?" And he's all like, "Am I sucking your hairy balls? Shit no! I gave up on those pricks around the time of 'Buzz Buzz In The Eardrum'." And I'm all like, "Dude! It's actually pretty fuckin good!" And he's all like, "Are you shittin' me? St. Peter -- And I DO mean 'Peter' (as in PRICK) -- ordered that Manscape thing off of half.com, and that was the worst earpiss I'd heard since the third &#*$&**@@&# album." And I'm like, "Dude, who is &#*$&**@@&#?" And he's all like, "Oh, they were this late '60s psych band in one of my other universes. Their first couple albums are pretty cool, but then they went all 'Jesusy' in '71 and put out this TOTAL piece of crap. By the way, just a hint -- if you want to let me know you're all into me and shit, there are better ways to do it than recording a shitty Jesus album. I mean, "Spirit In The Sky" was pretty cool with that fuzz guitar and shit, but have you heard Petra?" "Dude!" I replied, because I had. "They fuckin' suck!" He concurred, "Remember Hurricane Hugo? I was aiming for THEM."

"Well, let me tell you about this album, God. You see, Wire have returned to their loud fuzzy guitar days in a manner unlike anything the world in the world has heard since Pink Flag! Half of the songs are punk speed, and most of the others are uptempo, and they're this awesome combination of high-tech effects, weird fuzzed-to-hell guitar tones, oft-distorted bass, repetitive minimalist chord sequences and danceable pogo rhythms -- like Killing Joke, but faster! It's not quite as flawless as Pink Flag, of course (that record would have quickly shooed away the slow, ugly and just plain BAD "You Can't Leave Now" and all eight minutes of "99.9," which DOES eventually speed up, but doesn't get any more interesting when it does). Also, the songs, as fast and punk/techno as they are, might be a bit long for quicker tastes. Some people, for whatever reason, don't want to hear two chords played over and over for four and a half minutes, no matter how cool the guy sounds yelling over them. But all in all, I have to say that this is one happy day for the world -- the day that Wire has finally remembered how to record an aurally intriguing and viscerally exciting rock record."

"So God," I suddenly changed the subject. "What are you doing talking to me here on Earth? I thought you didn't mingle 'among the living.'" And he's all like, "Man, that's a fuckin' GREAT Anthrax album. I like the new stuff too, but that's like a total classic. But to answer your question, you're dead. You froze to death."

"Goddammit to fucking shit bitch bastard asshole!" I responded, angry at being dead. "How'd that happen?" And God was all like, "Dude, you know this isn't really a boat, right? You're sitting on a huge ice formation on the top of a mountain." And I was all like, "WTF?!? That guy on the Internet said this was Noah's Ark!" And he was all like, "Dude, LOOK at it! It's clearly just an ice formation. You'd have to be fucking retarded to think it looks like a big boat!" And I'm all like, "Shit a brick, dude. I was only 30, and I hadn't even transcribed my David B. Livingstone interview yet." And he looked at me with a glimmer in his eye and said, "Dude, I'll totally give you another chance if you'll pretend that Tom Waits got a bunch of votes on your 'Who's Next?' page and review him next." And I was like, "Shit yeah! It's a deal! I'll go home tonight and add 100 votes to his total!" And he was all like, "Excellent, dude. That guy cracks me up. 'What is he building in there?' HA! Don't give Small Change a bad review though or I'll kill you again." And I'm all like, "You got it, Tits!"

And the rest, as they say, is nistory!

Reader Comments

bclord@sfu.ca (Bruce Lord)
For the aforementioned types for who might find the tracks on "Send" a mite long, Wire have released an LP called "PF456 Redux" containing versions of all the songs from "Read And Burn" 1 and 2, as well as the tracks formerly exclusive to "Send" pared down to about two thirds of their original length. Makes for a much more punchy, if not as trance-inducing listen:

(Not sure about the decorum on posting links; sorry if it isn't kosher)

Glad to hear that Gawd knows the good Wire from bad (although I stand behind "Eardrum Buzz"). I'd been going out of my way to trip grandmothers and punch toddlers out of fear that "Manscape" would be on permanent loop in heaven.

bsusanj@acab.it (Boris Susanj)
I read your review of "Send" and it sent me laughing for half an hour! It was fucking Great! In my opinion however it deserves a higher rating: it's their best album since 154 and it's a galaxy away from most rock today. Like an Brit critic said it's like "being assaulted in a dark alley by a bunch of retired guys on amphetamines" It's vicious, energetic mean spirited, with a nastiness that's mature and conscious, rigorous and that takes no prisoner. There's an air of controlled violence that's exciting but at the same time much more dangerous. In my opinion their best album is "Chairs Missing". Punk Flag is excellent but has too little variety.

Hey Mark, go ahead and review Colin Newman's first four solo albums ("A-Z", "Provisionally entitled the singing fish", "Not to" and "Commercial suicide"...). They're every bit as good as early Wire (IMHO..), and they all have that special song style that us Wire fans have grown to love love love...

Haven't heard his latest output though ("Bastard"), but he has a brand new band going, they're called GITHEAD and have a great 6 tracks CD out (called "Headgit"..). Line-up also features Malka Spigel (Colin's wife) on bass, and Robin Rimbaud on guitar... It has a more electronic sound than classic Wire, but still - that unique, subtle, "experimental poppy" song-style remains...

Their first full-length CD will be released sometime in early 2005, I'm told....

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Read & Burn 03 EP - pinkflag 2007
Rating = 8

Look, I'm no genius. In fact, it could be argued that my IQ is 1. But I'll be good and goddamned if I'm not intrigued by this whole "23 Years Too Late" song. I'm far too stupid to make out exactly what low-voiced orator Graham Lewis is rambling on about, but considering the song's 2007 release date, he must be referring to 1984. So my initial thought was "George Orwell's 1984"? Something about George Bush, Tony Blair and fascism? But then I cleverly located the lyrics on the band's web site where they least expected me to look, and now I'm thinking that he's talking about all the different sub-sects of fans he runs across as his band tours the world -- outdated sub-sects from the mid-80's that keep reviving themselves and clinging to life against all odds or necessity (punks, goths, anarchists, etc). This is just my guess based on phrases on "Tilo and Hardcore, Massive Attack and transfer prints," "Naked punks and stone-hard pagans," "the Finnish Rude-boy Engineering Front," "Grey hairs genuflect as perforated anarchists lead the Screw-top Revolution" and "Citizens of Christiania, the Cannabis Castaways/Victims of the cookie-cutter crucifixion," but it seems to fit. Or perhaps he's bemoaning the state of the band itself, still playing club gigs to the same old outsider/hipster crowds (roughly) 23 years after they first broke up. I don't know; you tell me. You're the one who doesn't think poetry is stupid.

Read & Burn 03 features four songs, which I once saw described as such:

"23 Years Too Late" - Nearly ten minutes long. First six minutes alternate between Graham Lewis speaking over four rising chords and Colin Newman singing over same four rising chords with addition of uptempo drums. Final four minutes take a more dissonant approach.. It's an awfully long and repetitive song, but one that constantly pleases the brain with hypnotic harmonized electronic tones, squiggles, buzzings and soaring drones.

"Our Time" - Lopey-dopey bass line, midtempo beat, double-tracked Colin vocals, laidback feel, enhanced by light but ever-changing guitar accompaniment (one note to bendy-note to actual riff). Very singalongable too! (thanks to repetitive, dumb lyrics!) !

"No Warning Given" - THE ONE FOR ME. Fast punk beat, three-note rising forboding bass line, distorted fuzz chorus guitar painting ambient swizzles of noise - a real driving tune that culminates in a dramatic mid-'80s synth-rock MTV hit chorus. My wife hates this for some reason. I think she's nuts. (balls)

"Desert Diving" - The least interesting track on here, this is a slow echoey warm gentle thing reminiscent of old U2 when they were trying to be uplifting and spiritual (Unforgettable Fire, etc). The chorus is better than the verse, which boasts a very dull vocal melody. It's by no means a bad song; just not terribly innovative.

Apparently none of these songs are going to be on the next Wire album, so pick it up both today and now! Be warned that, just like with the last album, every song is far too long considering how simple they are. Still, these guys are sonic geniuses, able to coax such warm and mesmerizing tones out of their synths, guitars, bass and voicebox that you hardly notice they're just playing three notes over and over. It's this sensitive attention to tone that saves the disc from earning a lowly 7. They had ear-smarts on Pink Flag and they STILL gots 'em, a full 30 years later!

(please note - they didn't have 'em for a while in the middle there. Manscape, for example)

Yes, 30 years later!

(The First Letter)

Wow, 30 years later!

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Object 47 - Pink Flag 2008
Rating = 6


Well, I guess that's about it for the comeback. Thanks for stopping by!



Before we discuss Wire's new album, the long-awaited follow-up to 2008's Object 47, I'd first like to say a few words about that record, just as sort of a reminder of what it sounded like, way back in 2008. If you're reading this in a Hovercraft, please be sure and plug the Cycloscope 2.1 connecter into your BrainScan Module in order to hear audio samples of the release as I ironically discuss it in the long-antiquated 'text' communication format.

That was hilarious, me pretending it's the future! It's not the future! And it NEVER WILL BE!!!! (thanks to George W. Bush's environmental policies) (and the definition of the word 'future')

Okay, let's pretend you're Wire. Okay, now let's pretend your guitarist just quit. What do you do now? Why, you break up, of course! And that's the difference between you pretending that you're Wire and the actual Wire. They decided to record a new album anyway, not even bothering to change their name to "Ire" or "Wie." Or even, God forbid, "Wre." Actually, "Wre" wouldn't be a bad name, because then if Robert Gotobed demanded a 30-minute drum solo on the next record, Colin could argue, "There's no 'I' in 'Wre'." See, up until this point, he couldn't do that. Nobody could do that. Because Robert Gotobed has evil powers.

Hey, remember the awesome punky energy of Send? And the way it got your head moving, your foot tapping and your mouth voicing, "Yeah! Wire is BACK!"? Are you ready for another blast of that exciting uptempo punk rockin'? Then go listen to Send again because this album's slow as dirt. And, not to knock dirt, but even at its liveliest it's not exactly the speediest mixture of broken rock particles and decaying organic matter in the world. Ditto for Object 47, on which only 2 of 9 tracks could be described as other than 'sluggishly pokey' or 'lackadaisically midtempo.' Not that it matters (154 is even slower, after all), but just so you know -- this isn't Send II: Electric Boog Powell Baseball Card.

What it is is a collection of wonderfully melodic, fuzzy pop rock songs and outdated 1990-sounding dance-rock disappointments. Colin delivers some of his prettiest vocals ever, and the best songs pile on multiple guitar phrases (a few chords, a couple notes in a different tone on top, etc) to create a warm, relaxing, calm, beautiful, fuzzy musical extravaganza. "One Of Us," "Perspex Icon" and "Patient Flees" are particularly lovely, as is the bassist-sung "Mekon Headman." Granted, they don't break any new ground at all, but they're very pretty songs! And who would you rather marry - a woman that's pretty, or a woman who breaks new ground? Unless you're attracted to soil-coated women whose hands smell like earthworms, I think the answer's obvious -- whichever one's got the jugs.

Unfortunately, nearly half of the 35-minute record is composed of ugly doldrums, lopey-dopey half-commitments, and what sound like b-sides by a terrible early '90s dance-pop band. The same way that Send's "Read And Burn" sounded like Ministry's Twitch, this record's "Hard Currency" sounds like a bunch of Manchester prissies that Ministry would set on fire and beat with a chain. "Circumspect" and "Four Long Years" are as cold and life-denying as "One Of Us" and "Mekon Headman" are cozy and spirit-rejuvenating. And the cutesy "Are You Ready?," though not terrible, would definitely work better as a two-minute aside, rather than the second longest song on the record that it is (at 4:43).

Which leaves us with the fun-as-monkeys dissonant noise rocker "All Fours," the concluding track and this album's only stylistic connection to Send. I'm told that Helmet's Page Hamilton contributed feedback to this one, and if true, it shows! This song basically features no melody in its verse -- and very little in its ringing chorus -- but finally they put some goddamned petals to the metal and strike up the Engergy! In fact, from now on, it would be great if you could pronounce 'Energy' like that - with a hard 'g' after the 'n.' (En-Gher-Jee!) People love this, and it makes you sound like an idiot (the president).

In conclusion, come on Wire.

In more specific conclusion, come on Wire. Your sense of easy on the ears audio tonal bliss remains genius and unchallenged, but what's with this old-fangled dancey shit? Get with the times, old man! Today's underground drug-fuelled rave dance scene gets their rocks off to "Umbrella-ella-ella"! ("Ay-ay-ay!")

In unrelated conclusion, I get lots of nosebleeds. For a while, I thought it was because I work in really bad seats at a concert arena, but it turns out I'm actually on the second floor of a Brownstone. So maybe it's because Accutane dried up all my membranes, or I've been shot. Whatever the reason, just earlier today, my nose went gore-crazy and hilariously spewed crimson filth all over my desk. I spent the next half-hour with a big wad of toilet paper sticking out of my nose, and I still haven't cleaned up all the blood! Hopefully I don't have AIDS or I'm totally gonna get AIDS.

Reader Comments

Jim Laakso
I went to Wire's free NYC show a month or so ago and was reasonably excited, because I did enjoy "Send" much more than I expected I would. But Wire 2008 was boring! Boring like nobody's business! I'm a glutton for live-show punishment, but this stuff was lifeless enough that even I walked out after about twenty yawn-filled minutes.

i agree.
i love Wire! almost all of it! (except of course manscape and the first letter). i come back to them every couple years and get all excited about how much i love em. even have 2 books about the band that i end up re-reading during my cyclical wire obsessions. when this alb came out i was not in a wire phase but now i am again i picked it up 2nd hand, and was excited because the couple reviews i read (not this one) said it was more "textured" than the last akin to a bell is a cup - which i love! but yer right, mark, it's just kinda midtempo dull. here's what you must do, go to pinkflag.com and download the alb called It's All In The Brochure, a live collection, it's friggin awesome, and will more than make up for this one. man, they miss bruce gilbert more than i woulda thunk.

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Red Barked Tree - Pink Flag 2011
Rating = 7

Ohhh thank goodness. The men of Wire have regained their senses and released a proper Chairs Missing-style successor to the Pink Flag-style Send. Unlike Object 47, which mixed classic Wire sounds with terrible Manscape/The First Letter electro-garbage, Red Barked Tree is all warm guitar tones, hooky bass lines and melodic vocals. It also brings back the energy that was so absent from the previous record, offering listeners a good mix of speedy punk, midtempo rock and slow thoughtfulness.

I'm not kidding about this one being musically reminiscent of Chairs Missing. Though the tracks are longer, they all have that great early Wire sound, with scraggly treble rawing up the punkers and clear ringing-bell guitars turning already pretty tunes into masterpieces of sonic beauty. The songwriting is consistent across the spectrum too, with the tuneful pop-rock "Please Take" and "Bad Worn Thing" shouting 'Genius!' just as loudly as the high-speed hum-alongs "Now Was" and "Flat Tent" and slow, gorgeously haunting closers "Down to This" and "Red Barked Trees."

Now that I've got the compliments out of the way, let's be callously honest: Wire hasn't released a great album in over three decades. No matter how great the six songs I named in the last paragraph are (and they are, I assure you), the rest of Red Barked Tree is just as mediocre and disappointing as their previous eight albums. Though none of the songs are awful, "Clay" and "Moreover" are blatant retreads of earlier material (specifically "I Am the Fly" and "A Question of Degree"), and the morose "Smash," bland "Adapt" and spoken word punker "Two Minutes" are morose, bland and spoken word punker.

Now that I've gotten the complaints out of the way, let's be brutally correct: if Wire continues to put out albums this good -- not great, but honestly GOOD -- I'll be more than happy to call myself a Wire fan with a gigantic penis.

Now that I've gotten the review out of the way, let's be viciously unrelated: here are some links you might enjoy:

Me on some web site or something

A great new punk rock logo

A book that will someday be known as "The Bible Part 2"

The worst movie idea of all time

The best movie idea of all time

A Henry the Dog fan performing a cover of the hit single "Kibble!"

The late Ronnie James Dio KICKING YOUR ASS in the early '60s.

If you thought even Hollywood couldn't turn a cute dog into a shitty movie, watch this trailer to have your dreams dashed!

A fantastic prank pulled by twins and a TV show

Please let me know if these or any other links on my site die and go to Hell, so that I might remove them post-haste. Thanks!

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Buy yer Wire CDs hi-yer!

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