wire - The I-94 Bar

Brighton, not London, calling and it's Colin Newman down the Wire

wire 2014 ineup

This is the first time Colin Newman has voted in a British General Election in Brighton. The rhythm guitarist, songwriter and singer for seminal UK art-punk band, Wire, and his partner moved there from South-West London a year or so ago.

“London has its charms, it’s definitely a great city. But it’s not very practical for those who live in it. London’s big problem is cross-city transport. Everything happens in the East these days and getting home via public transport after midnight is impossible so you are in a taxi for £70.00 or on the night but for 3 hours. Maybe the 24 hour tube on the weekends will help that but it’s not all lines and and it’s only two nights a week.

“In the 90’s, where we used to live in South-West London had some culture - nightclubs, record shops etc. and we had the centre in easy reach. Now all the venues are closed not only in that area but in the centre too. No record shops in SW London either..”

Good Night and Good Riddance. How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh (Faber)

peel bookHe was a BBC DJ. On the back cover there are heartfelt quotes about him from musicians as diverse as Jack White, Johnny Marr, Elton John, Robert Plant, Nick Cave and Elvis Costello.

His name was John Peel.

Here’s a comment about him from Carlton Sandercock, who runs Easy Action Records in the UK:

“John Peel was quite possibly THE most important person on the radio anywhere ever... to find a DJ that championed new bands, unsigned bands, punk bands, bands of every genre…and encouraged growth when he was employed by one of the biggest corporations in UK is staggering to say the very least … I never met him but did have him stamping on the floor trying to get me, Annie Nightingale and Nikki Sudden to shut up…

Nocturnal Koreans - Wire (Pink Flag)

nocturnal koreans“Nocturnal Koreans” is a five-star disc in anyone’s language. There’s a lot they don’t make clear, Wire, so I’ll say it: you play Wire as if there was a huge sign on the disc itself saying PLAY LOUD.

Also, “Nocturnal Koreans” is a record you can fuck to, over and over, with the windows open and the summer heat shrivelling your skin, or the sudden antarctic blasts skimming your bodies but you don’t stop, no, you don’t stop … then you wake up in the night, Wire still seducing you, and you’re chilled to the bone and profoundly disturbed…

Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 - Wire (pinkflag)

pink flagCertainly the deluxe edition re-issues are part of their time. Can't help that.

You know what they say of the younger fans of Green Day, on the occasion of their first listen to The Clash? "Golly, they sound just like Green Day!"...

One of the weirder things is revisiting old men's records and realising that their leaps forward 40-odd years ago did the spade-work for mega-selling buttonhead bands by the hundred. I mean, come on. The late '80s and mid-'90s Britpop thing owes a huge debt to Wire.

What is astonishing here, apart from the vibrant inyerfaceness of the pre-"Pink Flag" demos (recorded between May and August 1977), is that, like The Buzzcocks and The Clash, or Siouxsie and the Banshees around this time, how broadly creative Wire were over such a short space of time. Like The Clash and the Banshees, Wire were part of the punk burst, but didn't rely on its DNA.

Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall) & Silver/Lead - Wire (Pinkflag)

sublimeWire do enjoy their titles. “Akin to A Bell is a Cup (Until it is Struck)”, “Silver/ Lead” hints at alchemical alteration of roles and realities. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all…

Being from Melbourne, Charlie Marshall is more direct. He says exactly what he means. “Sublime” is his view of the machinery of the universe and our world - that stuff up out there, and that stuff all around us down here. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all... 

silver lead wire

Both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” are magical. Both reach out and touch your heartstrings, both have a confident sensuality about them. Both wield lyrics like conversation: we discuss all manner of things, how we’ve changed our world, what it is, and our place in it. All this without being either preachy or boring; falling into both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” is in like one of those enlightening conversations in a pub without an argument. Although both Sare in many ways rather different, they beat as two hearts. Both belong in your collection.

Wire - Wire (Popfrenzy Records)

Wire coverThis is Wire’s most across-the-board album. It’s lush, glorious, dirty, savage, sublime, clever in a street-smart way, jagged in a crying-jag way, it builds and grows and gathers you up and crushes and … and ‘Wire’ is just way, way too good for a band who’ve been touring and recording since 77. Five bottles. At least. So don’t bother reading any further, right, order it here. Then, when the bastard arrives, PLAY LOUD.

See, I come from an era where BOF meant Boring Old Fart, and that meant, not so much anyone over 30 (although that was often the case) but anyone shoving out lazy LPs, with maybe two or three half-decent songs on them. Ill-considered, slothful slush. If you can’t recall offenders from those days, I can bet you can name offenders from today.

“Wire” is way, way too good for old fuckers. If a band in their 20’s presented this to any major record company they’d be signed to a 20-year deal with the Fuck You Up and Rip You Off International label in no time flat.

Wire continues to challenge with new music

mind hiveMind Hive - Wire (Pinkflag)
10.20 - Wire (Pinkflag)

First to the Rolling Rock ratings: "Mind Hive" gets a mighty seven bottles, and "10.20", six out of a possible five each... That's because I'm being stingy. Both these new Wire albums are series of pieces you simply play over and over. Then return to.

The only comparison I'll make today is that "Mind Hive" reminds me of Hugo Race's recent "Starbirth" - both seem compelled to take a long, personal view of where we are and, with mesmeric power and grace, both give us a view refracted from the apparently oblivious mainstream. We're in a state of flux, with numbed and shaved antennae.

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