Record review

Reissues & Box Sets


Pink Flag (EMI/Pink Flag)


Chairs Missing (EMI/Pink Flag)


154 (EMI/Pink Flag)

Wire has often been copied but never duplicated, and that's most evident on the British quartet's 1977 debut, Pink Flag, mainlining shots of three-minute punk that was never quite the "punk" everyone was talking about in 1977. Wire always dangled on the edge. There's the door-kicking opener "Reuters" and the curiously familiar "Three Girl Rhumba" (Elastica totally ripped it for their one-hit wonder "Connection," remember?); the stroll of "Lowdown" fuses the three-chord rumble of "Start to Move"; the hot bounce of "Surgeon's Girl" cuts open the frantic pogo anthem "12 X U." The liner notes for Flag are in need of proofreading but offer cool live photos. 1978's moody Chairs Missing, with its new minimalist packaging (all three LPs are minimal), was quite a departure but actually more indicative of the dark tones Wire excelled in. Standout "French Film Blurred" and the Eno/Can influenced "Another the Letter" find them immersed in the ambient, yet focused more so than on Flag. "Outdoor Miner" is almost Roxy Music (whom they would later open for), and when guitarist Colin Newman sings, "I am the fly in the ointment" there's a sinister twitch to it that's deliciously British. On 154, they figured out that they could do everything they were doing on guitar with synth, and it's this constant evolution that makes it not only a dreamy album, with highlights "The 15th" and "40 Versions," but also an indication that the band was on its way out. Sometimes it's best to quit while you're still Wire.

(Pink Flag) ***

(Chairs Missing) ****

(154) ***.5

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