Wednesday, February 13, 2008


wire, noun: a length or quantity of wire used, for example, for fencing or to carry an electric current.

Wire are responsible for producing at least three of my favourite albums between 1977 and 1979. Formed in London in late 1976, this revolutionary punk group - of a distinctly Art School variety - were quite simply incomparable to any other band on the scene. From the first difficult to conveniently file in any box, it was just as much a monkey puzzle to wrestle out their influences. I read somewhere online recently that these range from "artists as diverse as the Ramones and Brian Eno" but that's a trifle trite. While their first LP "Pink Flag" had a manic edge to it complicit with other key releases from the recently emerged ground zero, on first listen it was apparent that they were uniquely different. Something dangerous perhaps lurking in the kitchen drawer.

Oh, and did i mention they signed to Harvest EMI ? The same label synonymous with Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett ?

And while, like New York's Ramones, they managed to cram a staggering 21 tracks onto their debut slab of wax, the mood throughout ranged from the breathtakingly structured melodic (as on "mannequin") to the broodingly foreboding ("reuters" ; "strange"). All this without apparently cracking a smile or breaking sweat. Now, that's got to be value for money.

Featuring Graham Lewis (bass, vocals), Bruce Gilbert (guitar), Colin Newman (vocals, guitar) and Robert Gotobed (né Grey) (drums), ladies and gentlemen i give you wire.

download: WIRE: MANNEQUIN from "Pink Flag" LP (Harvest) November 1977 [SHSP 4076] UK
download: WIRE: OUTDOOR MINER from "Chairs Missing" LP (Harvest) October 1978 [SHSP 4093] UK
download: WIRE: I AM THE FLY 7" (Harvest) February 1978 [HAR 5151] UK
download: WIRE: 40 VERSIONS from "154" LP (Harvest) September 1979 [SHSP 4105] UK.

posted by ib


davyh said...

Marvellous stuff ib, what a band eh? And they sound great today - unlike, it must be said, a great many of their contemporaries...

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

One of the great things about growing up in Canada was listening to Pink Flag around a bonfire. I won't say Pink Flag is the best rock 'n' roll record ever made but if I did I would not be wrong.

Anonymous said...

davy h: absolutely. Their stuff has never really dated. I remember whan Elastica brought out a single in the mid 90s which lifted a bassline (or riff) straight from a Wire song, with scarcely an acknowledgement from the big cheeses fawning over the whole "BritPop" thing... very annoying.

mr. beer n. hockey: The picture you paint of you all listening to Pink Flag around a bonfire in Canada is very cinematic. It's one of those albums I never tire of hearing and have a tremendous amount of affection for.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Simple Steve said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. One of the albums that gets overlooked, though, is The Ideal Copy. You can probably get it off iTunes. Fantastic stuff.

Anonymous said...

actually, as a longtime wire fanatic I have to say that I always liked Pink Flag but was never really touched by it in the way a lot of the later stuff did -- of the first three I'd say Chairs Missing is my favourite -- I kinda always regarded Pink Flag as an elaborate rock joke -- a good joke but a joke nonetheless

IBTABA was where it started for me...

One of the great things about growing up in Canada was discovering Colin Newman's "Commercial Suicide" at the public library...


btw "Document and Eyewitness" by Wire is still the greatest live record ever made.