£11.99“It seemed like a good idea at the time…,” begins the explanation of Wire’s original motivation for ‘Change Becomes Us’. Not only was it a good idea, it actually turned into a superlative one. In spring 2012, Wire’s plan had been to review the rudimentary blueprints of songs that had never made it beyond a few live performances in 1979 and 1980 – a time when the band-members were in creative overdrive yet the band itself was disintegrating.Visit product page →
The aim wasn’t simply to resuscitate and record old songs; in fact, many of them hadn’t become proper songs in the first place, existing only as basic ideas or undeveloped parts. Rather, the objective was to approach that unrealized work as an oblique strategy, a potential springboard for Wire’s contemporary, forward-looking processes – a possible point of departure for new compositions.
This took place with Wire firing on all cylinders, as a four-piece studio entity again, the core line-up of Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey now enhanced by guitarist Matthew Simms. Out of those sessions and subsequent extensive development and production, the ostensible source material became, in the classic Wire tradition, something quite other than what it may have once been – or what it might have become if it had been pursued in 1980. ‘Love Bends’ is a case in point.
Its roots lie in a raucous, octave-hopping number performed in February 1980 at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, but it’s now morphed, improbably, into an irresistible, totally modern pop song. Just as improbably, the gently lilting ‘Re-invent Your Second Wheel’ is tangentially connected to a performance piece that was mostly shouting and banging, executed by a stageful of Wire cronies in funny hats. Similarly transformed, ‘& Much Besides’ is a six-minute oneiric-melodic interlude that gives no hint of its putative origins in ‘Eastern Standard’ – a dreary, obtuse three-minute track from the Electric Ballroom concert.
Colin Newman’s songwriting and production on ‘Change Becomes Us’ reimagines the past in ways that ultimately break any substantive connection with it, making entirely new pieces – and these songs themselves enact Wire’s restless drive to become other, often thriving on a fundamental tension between opposing sonic characteristics. With its stop-start, soft-hard, quiet-loud structure, ‘Adore Your Island’ veers between prog and unhinged punk rock, never quite resolving itself; the drama of ‘Attractive Space’ hinges on a progressive splitting of the song’s personality, between its calm, expansive, anthemic orientation and an increasing sense of intensity and claustrophobia.
‘Change Becomes Us’ encapsulates the paradoxical essence of Wire’s creativity. The tendency of these new songs to refuse a single, settled identity is emblematic of the band’s ever-evolving aesthetic – one that’s always hinged on sustained tensions and oppositions: between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the comfortable and the unsettling, the melodic and the brutal, the cerebral and the visceral, the smart and the moronic, the obvious and the inscrutable, the rational and the absurd.
This intrinsic, core ambivalence generates the essential otherness that has characterized Wire’s most memorable and distinctive work – from the epochal innovations of ‘Chairs’Missing’ and ‘154’ to the electronic-pop deconstructions of ‘A Bell Is A Cup…’ to the postmodern-punk expressionism of ‘Send’ and the widescreen lyricism of ‘Red Barked Tree’. ‘Change Becomes Us’ is an undeniable part of that illustrious lineage. Definitely more than just a good idea at the time.
1. Doubles & Trebles
2. Keep Exhaling
3. Adore Your Island
4. Re-invent Your Second Wheel
5. Stealth Of A Stork
6. B/W Silence
7. Time Lock Fog
8. Magic Bullet
9. Eels Sang
10. Love Bends
11. As We Go
12. & Much Besides
13. Attractive Space
£19.99Visit product page →Pink Flag re-issue the legendary 4th Wire album. Released originally on Rough Trade in 1980 , the album was primarily recorded live at a 1979 show. Long unavailable on any format the re-issue features additional unreleased material on a double CD & double vinyl.
For those unfamiliar with Document and Eyewitness, it really doesn’t do it justice to describe it simply as a collection of live recordings from three turn-of-the-80s Wire gigs. What makes it more than that is the unorthodox nature of the main performance and the way it was presented on record.
The centrepiece of the original vinyl release was a recording of the final gig of Wire’s 70s phase. Wire’s set was composed of largely new (and often under-rehearsed) work, accompanied by a series of artistic actions and interventions.
The evening was memorable for the unusually hostile reaction from sections of the audience, which has perhaps elevated it beyond a simple passing moment. If the crowd was expecting a standard gig, the level of outrage, expressed in vociferous abuse suggested that the band’s intentions were lost on those in attendance, who were instead confounded by the apparent artistic pretensions on display. The approach was to couple selected live tracks with a spoken commentary on the proceedings by long-term Wire fans Adrian Garston and Russell Mills. Hence the title, Document and Eyewitness.
For the album, the Electric Ballroom material was supplemented with recordings from a July 1979 show at the Notre Dame Hall (a straightforward band performance), along with one track from a 1979 gig in Montreux.
PF21 CD: Packaged in a square Amaray case with a booklet.
Disc 1 has the original album in full.
Disc 2 adds two singles (+ B-sides) from the period, plus some rehearsal room recordings unheard for nearly 35 years!
CD 1:01. 5/1002. 12XU (Fragment)03. Underwater Experiences04. Everything's Going to Be Nice05. Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars)06. We Meet Under Tables07. ZEGK HOQP08. Eastern Standard09. Instrumental (Thrown Bottle)10. Eels Sang Lino11. Revealing Trade Secrets12. And Then… Coda13. Go Ahead14. Ally in Exile15. Relationship16. Underwater Experiences17. Witness to the Fact18. 2 People in a Room19. Our Swimmer20. HeartbeatTracks 01-12 from Electric Ballroom.Tracks 13-19 from Notre Dame Hall.Track 20 from Montreux.CD 2:01. Our Swimmer02. Midnight Bahnhof Cafe03. Second Length (Our Swimmer)04. Catapult 3005. Ally in Exile06. Go Ahead07. Remove for Improvement V208. Over My Head V209. Safe10. Relationship11. Underwater Experiences12. Eels Sang Lino13. Cancel Your Order14. Part of Our History (emerges)Tracks 01-02 from "Our Swimmer" (1981) single.Tracks 03-04 from an unreleased 1981 single.Track 05: a personal recording from Jan. 1979 in Cadaqués, Spain.Tracks 06-14: Wire rehearsal recordings from 1979 and 1980.
PF21 LP: Packaged in a gatefold sleeve.Disc 1 is the same as the original vinyl, albeit remastered and re-edited.Disc 2 features the original selection from the Notre Dame Hall show on side one and the two singles and B-sides on side two.Disc 1Side One:01. 5/1002. 12XU (Fragment)03. Underwater Experiences04. Everything's Going to Be Nice05. Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars)06. We Meet Under TablesSide Two:07. ZEGK HOQP08. Eastern Standard09. Instrumental (Thrown Bottle)10. Eels Sang Lino11. Revealing Trade Secrets12. And Then… CodaTracks 01-12 from Electric BallroomDisc 2Side One:13. Go Ahead14. Ally in Exile15. Relationship16. Underwater Experiences17. Witness to the Fact18. 2 People in a Room19. Our Swimmer20. HeartbeatSide Two:21. Our Swimmer22. Midnight Bahnhof Cafe23. Second Length (Our Swimmer)24. Catapult 30Tracks 01-12 from Electric Ballroom.Tracks 13-19 from Notre Dame Hall.Track 20 from Montreux.Tracks 21-22 from "Our Swimmer" (1981) single.Tracks 23-24 from an unreleased 1981 single.
£13.99Having completed a preliminary round of work on their eponymous 2015 album at Rockfield Studios,Wire found themselves with 19 tracks. Among them, there was a critical mass of 11 aesthetically unified songs. In typical Wire fashion, however, the remaining material was something other: it had the sound of a band already moving in a different direction, beyond the album project in which they were engaged at that time.Visit product page →
These tracks were the basis for Nocturnal Koreans. The difference between the two clusters of work birthed at Rockfield has its roots in discrete approaches to the studio process itself. Nocturnal Koreans emphasises studio construction over authentic performance, using the recording environment as an instrument, not just as a simple means of capturing Wire playing.
Although it’s become de rigueur to talk about Wire’s capacity for self-reinvention, that’s never the whole story. Certainly, the impulse to pursue fresh ideas with each phase of work is buried deep in their artistic DNA, but they’ve balanced that commitment to the new with a core character and attitude that’s always at some level recognisable as Wire—without being reducible to a formulaic sound.
It’s this enduring dialectic that gives Wire their unique sta-tus as a long-established band that continues to forge ahead with original music: always unmistakably Wire but al-ways reimagined and reframed with each successive project.
1. Nocturnal Koreans
2. Internal Exile
3. Dead Weight
4. Forward Position
7. Pilgrim Trade
8. Fishes Bones
£7.99Visit product page →At a time when back catalogue outsells fresh creativity and newcomers achieve fame by adding a lick of paint to their parents’ record collections, it’s unusual to find a band who, despite plying their trade for decades, are willing and able to make new work that’s as vital and relevant as their own illustrious past recordings.
Wire are such a band, and with ‘Red Barked Tree’ they have succeeded in making a statement that will sound as strong in 30 years as their celebrated historical oeuvre does today.
‘Red Barked Tree’ rekindles a lyricism sometimes absent from Wire’s previous work and reconnects with the live energy of performance, harnessed and channelled from extensive touring over the past few years. ‘Red Barked Tree’ was conceived, written and recorded mostly during 2010 by the pared-down lineup of Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey -- with no guests.
Ranging from the hymnal ‘Adapt’ to the barking sledgehammer art-punk of ‘Two Minutes’, the album encompasses the full range of style and nuance that has always endeared Wire to pastel-tinged pop aficionados and bleeding-edge avant-rockers alike.
Whatever Wire make is Wire music: this is the band’s enigmatic guiding axiom. While Wire remain agnostic about the nature and identity of their aesthetic essence, it’s always been instantly recognisable, manifesting itself throughout their heterogeneous work.
This enigma waits be revealed among the ‘Red Barked Trees’ … In 2011, to support the album alongside a full media campaign, Wire will be touring in Australia and New Zealand (January), Europe (February and March) and USA and Canada (April), with festival appearances through the summer. Further European, Asiatic and American adventures are planned through to the end of 2011 and well into 2012.
Side A:1. Please Take2. Now Was3. Adapt4. Two Minutes5. Clay6. Bad Worn ThingSide B:1. Moreover2. A Flat Tent3. Smash4. Down To This5. Red Barked Trees
£11.99Silver/Lead is the 15th studio album from musical pioneers Wire. It arrives on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance. Yet it’s about as far from nostalgia as you could get. This is the sound of a uniquely addictive 21st century psychedelic post-punk.Visit product page →
Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is alternately jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’s ear-catching lyrics are vivid yet oblique. Meanwhile, drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual masterclass in percussive minimalism. But it’s how the various instruments mesh together that really counts. And Newman’s production cre-ates a sonic space in which even the smallest gesture is accorded some recognition.
Highlights include the optimistic dazzle of ‘Diamonds In Cups’, with its almost T. Rex-style buzz and chug, and the moody swing of ‘This Time’. Elsewhere on the musical spectrum, there’s the menacing widescreen grandeur of ‘Playing Harp for the Fishes’ and breakneck-paced guitar pop of ‘Short Ele-vated Period’.
Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands, their influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages. But they have never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction: forwards. So it’s perhaps not surpris-ing that over recent years, they’ve played strings of sold-out shows, achieved career-best record sales, and been cited as a strong influence by yet another generation of bands.
Wire’s last three albums garnered nothing but rave reviews.
From 2013’s strangely beautiful Change Becomes Us (“It’s fantastic.” – Pitchfork) to the crackling motorik of 2015’s Wire (“It’s all really well turned, potent and crisp.” – The Guardian), and last year’s punchy mini-album Nocturnal Koreans (“It's a cracker and sounds defiantly modern.” – The Quietus).
Consequently, although it may be being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, Silver/Lead is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the future.
1. Playing Harp For The Fishes
2. Short Elevated Period
3. Diamonds In Cups
4. Forever & A Day
5. An Alibi
6. Sonic Lens
7. This Time
9. Sleep On The Wing
10. Silver/ Lead
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Right from their inception in 1976, back in the first stirrings of punk, Wire went about making music in a subversive, conceptual way, setting themselves apart from both their peers and their influences.
“I had this idea that I wanted to avoid things that had a particular kind of tradition,” explains singer and guitarist Colin Newman. “I thought the three-chord trick was too simplistic and that the one-chord trick would be better. Or the two chord trick where the second chord is definitely not the right chord.”
Bass guitarist and vocalist Graham Lewis identifies another trait that has run throughout the group’s lifetime. “ People said, we were mysterious, arch and dark. But the only way of doing that successfully, is by also having a sense of humour. You have to have that balance. With Wire there’s a peculiarity, a contrariness and that can be funny."
This questing approach has served them well in guarding against repetition and cliché. In context, Wire’s last album, 2013’s aptly titled Change Becomes Us was another case of “Expect the unexpected” as it found them extensively reworking a rich cache of material abandoned amid a temporary
break-up in the early 80s.
Their 13th studio album - simply titled Wire – comprises material that was written with the album in mind, but toured extensively first, as well as songs that Newman introduced to the group in the studio just prior to recording. The idea was to get the most spontaneous reaction possible from the musicians, and far from the rough and ready results one might expect from such a tack, Wire is full of swooning pop melodies with a 60s tinge and an irresistible, near motorik rhythmic momentum. One can recognise certain melodic inflections, guitar and bass motifs, and drum rhythms from Wire’s idiosyncratic vocabulary but it has a remarkable freshness. The basic tracks were recorded at Rockfield Studios with overdubs added at Brighton Electric. The 11 tracks selected for release were the ones that came together most naturally.
From the outset Wire was an alliance between four very different characters and continues today with the addition, in 2012, of It Hugs Back guitarist Matthew Simms, who is around thirty years younger than the other group members. “With Matt there was a really new dynamic that had appeared in the group’s sound and that was something we wanted to capture, utilise and be creative with,” says Lewis.
Wire is the first album where Simms has been involved in formulating the material from the ground up, but when the group’s particular chemistry starts working he is now very much part of the process.
Lewis provides most of the lyrics for the album, their subject matter encompassing love songs, cryptic narratives and coded messages. One time, Newman asked Lewis to send over some unfinished, unformatted text so he wouldn’t be bound by what to use for the chorus. This material spawned two songs written on the same day, ‘Split Your Ends’ and the droll ‘In Manchester’. The latter has the disorientating and rather absurd situation of having “In Manchester” as a soaring chorus, when the song is not about Manchester beyond a single line in the lyric.
As the album progresses, some of the sunlit pop tunes become more shadowy and it ultimately plunges into the musical black hole of ‘Harpooned’, eight churning minutes of the group’s darkest, most abrasive music to date, and a favourite in live performances since 2013.
“The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change - moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves,” says Newman. “We’re in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip.”
Live dates outside the UK will be announced soon.
1. BLOGGING (3.46)
2. SHIFTING (3.17)
3. BURNING BRIDGES (3.17)
4. IN MANCHESTER (2.42)
5. HIGH (1.52)
6. SLEEP-WALKING (7.31)
7. JOUST & JOSTLE (2.12)
8. SWALLOW (4.17)
9. SPLIT YOUR ENDS (3.31)
10. OCTOPUS (3.16)
11. HARPOONED (8.23)
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Following their reformation at the turn of the new century Wire’s first new material were 2 EP’s which were Vols 1 & 2 in the Read & Burn series.Consisting of 25 minutes over 4 tracks Read & Burn 03 opens with the epic 10-minute looping tension-and-release motorik of ‘23 Years Too Late’ followed by 3 other songs that have only been available on this release.
2007 saw the release of Vol 3 and was the first new material since 2003’s hugely-acclaimed ‘Send’ album.
Described by All Music Guide as “25 rigorous minutes of pop heaven. Geniuses ? Correct. Still”
1. 23 Years Too Late2. Our Time3. No Warning Given4. Desert Diving
£7.99Visit product page →2011 saw the release of Wire’s most critically acclaimed and fastest-selling album in recent years, ‘Red Barked Tree’. The band also embarked on its most ambitious tour to date, embracing four continents and dozens of cities, many of which Wire had never played before.
The final leg of the tour saw Wire performing in front of UK audiences for the second time in a year, something not undertaken for more than three decades. In celebration of this extraordinary year, Pink Flag presents a special keepsake for those many thousands that saw the band live, as well as those who weren’t able to make it.
Named for the legendary series of radio broadcasts hosted by Bernard Lenoir for Radio France, ‘The Black Session : Paris 10 May 2011’ was initially available as an exclusive tour item during Wire’s UK autumn dates, but will see a worldwide release in February 2012. ‘The Black Session : Paris 10 May 2011’ was recorded at Radio France’s Paris studios in May 2011, with Wire performing in front of an invited — and enthusiastic — audience.
The album captures the band in razor-sharp form, tightly honed after months of touring. The selection of tracks marries live versions of songs from ‘Red Barked Tree’ with choice cuts from Wire’s extensive back catalogue, including much-loved classics ‘Kidney Bingos’, ‘Map Ref 41°N 93°W’ and ‘Two People In A Room’.
The recording is also the first album to feature guitarist Matt Simms alongside the core trio of Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey.
1. Adapt2. Comet3. Smash4. Please Take5. Kidney Bingos6. Clay7. Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW8. Moreover9. Two People In A Room10. Down To This11. Drill12. Red Barked Tree13. Pink Flag
£13.99 £7.99Visit product page →A live DVD + CD document of contemporary wire, recorded in april 2004, at the three-city triptych festival in scotland. honed to a fine performance edge from their live forays to europe earlier in the year, wire present their fierce, high-velocity set based around the highly successful 2003 album ‘send’, with encores including ‘strange’, ‘106 beats that’, ‘surgeon’s girl’, and ‘pink flag’.
Their first album in over a decade, ‘send’ marked a return to their trademark gimlet, shivved, short sharp shocked writing style. filmed by visual artist tom gidley in forensic detail, this document shows the complete visceral set and deliberately excludes the usual rock music celebration of place and time, instead concentrating on giving the viewer the closest of contact with a band often misrepresented as enigmatic, cold and distant. also included is a bonus selection of pieces captured by observation camera #1 of the second half of wire's april 2003 “flag:burning” performance installation at the only connect festival at the barbican, london.
The set by avant stage designer es devlin was specifically commissioned by wire for this one-off performance. whilst based on the same body of work as the performance at triptych, this is wire seen from the other end of the telescope, willingly surrendering their personal performance to the service of the machinery of a unique, complex theatrical spectacle in a manner rarely allowed in the rock world rife with ego and self-aggrandisement.
Accompanying CD features unedited 60 minute audio from the tryptich section of the dvd, and both discs are presented in a cd-size gatefold digipak case.
DVD1. 99.92. Germ Ship3. Mr. Marx's Table4. 1st Fast5. Read & Burn6. The Agfers Of Kodack7. Comet8. In The Art Of Stopping9. Spent10. I Don't Understand11. Strange12. 106 Beats That13. Surgeon's Girl14. Pink Flag15. 1st Fast16. Comet17. Spent18. I Don't UnderstandCD1. 99.92. Germ Ship3. Mr. Marx's Table4. 1st Fast5. Read & Burn6. The Agfers Of Kodack7. Comet8. In The Art Of Stopping9. Spent10. I Don't Understand11. Strange12. 106 Beats That13. Surgeon's Girl14. Pink Flag