Wire in the 80s - Classic Or Dud?

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Right, everyone seems to agree that Wire in the 70s ("Pink flag", "Chairs missing" and "154") were brilliant but everyone seems to have forgotten about the late 80s / early 90s incarnation on Mute. Is anyone else out there fond of this era of Wire? Was it a great art statement that they refused to play the 70s material? (And hence is it a great sell-out that the 2000 era Wire are playing 70s material again?) Were they just being over arty anyway what with songs called 'pieces' and words called 'text'? I only ask as I've been playing their Mute stuff a lot recently and had forgotten (a) how much I liked it at the time and (b) how good it all was. So, anyone out there with any opinions on the above?

Rob M, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Liked 'Ideal Copy', thought 'Bell is a Cup' the most boring album ever made.

tarden, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

A very classy thing they did was putting out a fan-voted best-of. More bands should do that, even if inevitably a couple of things got left off.

Never been able to get that into a whole album by 80s Wire/Wir but several tracks are excellent: "A Serious Of Snakes", "Ahead", "Kidney Bingos", "The Point Of Collapse", "You Hung Your Lights In The Trees". They did that quite-indie, quite-difficult-to-do thing of singing lyrics which seemed to have minimal literal meaning and making them high-impact, even if the impact was always pretty much the same i.e. tense, blocky menace. Matched the music though.

The Ahead 12" is the record to get, I'd say.

Tom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Beyond dud! Utter crime against art! It was the first Wire I ever heard, and it was so terrible it nearly turned me forever against their earlier output!

masonic boom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

eardrum buzz has the breathtaking distinction of being philiph schofield's most hated single of all time & for this masterstroke alone they can never be dud. mostly underachieving new order lite but kinda good to have around.

cw, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

eardrum buzz is easily the best song wire ever did...

gareth, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Young Sterl bought Ideal Copy after hearing that he should listen to Wire. He didn't understand what people had been on about, or, perhaps, since Ideal Copy sounded "difficult" he figured that he just wasn't smart/good enough. Two years later, Slightly Older Sterl bought Pink Flag. Then he understood.

I haven't listened to Ideal Copy in ages. I should probably have gone with my instincts and recognized the suckage.

Sterling Clover, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I'll take 'Ideal Copy' and leave the rest apart from the odd half- decent single (Kidney Bingos). I reckon most of the 80's/90's work sound surprisingly unambitious considering the experimental nature of Lewis and Gilbert's Dome project (and other solo efforts) and the Document and Eyewitness album from 1981. Maybe later-Wire became just an outlet for their more conventional sides.

There's no disputing that the 70's albums are monumentally great, though.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Incidentally, am I the only person who believes 'Chairs Missing' is miles ahead of 'Pink Flag', which works better in theory than on record?

tarden, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

No, Tarden, you are not alone. "Chairs missing" was my first exposure to Wire (after hearing "12XU" on a compilation and finding it hilariously funny) and it blew me away. It still sounds contemporary today, whereas the albums either side of it sound dated - "Pink flag" too punk, "154" too arty. "Chairs missing" is the perfect mix of pop, punk, art and strange beauty. And in fact I'm going to go away and play it again, just to remind myself how good it is.

Rob M, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Did Schofield play "Eardrum Buzz" under duress on his Radio 1 show and then slag it off, as Steve Wright did with "LFO"?

Haven't heard "Eardrum Buzz" in about five years, but from memory it was a *fantastic* pop single.

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Concur Chairs Missing phenomenal STOP Mercy nurse tonight! STOP After 154 this listener followed Dome, Cupol and Mzui strands rather than Mute Wire STOP Anyone heard Fischerspooner's dry electro cover of 'The 15th' INTERROGATION POINT Up in my room have Sara Bernhart's hand END

Momus, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

If you're looking for a quick & easy way to check out Wire's post- punk output - Mute was nice enough to release The A-List, a 16- track compendium of Wire's output from 1980 to 1990. Given that I was under the impression that their worth was only those 3 albums (you know the ones), I was pleasantly surprised.

Sounds a bit like New Order, yes, but especially if NO was covering Joy Division. The more synth-happy they got, the creepier they became.

And Fischerspooner. Oh, boy. A multi-media performance troop that looks like refugees from the "Wild Boys" video shoot. (They list costume designers and makeup artists as members of the "group".) Their version of "The 15th" sounds just like Wire's version. JUST LIKE. (Nice website, though. Unless you're trying to find out anything about their record.)

Looks like too much PoMo RoMo posing for me - as far as the music goes, I'll take the reclusive & recursive studio synth stylings of Mr. Trevor Kampmann, AKA hollAnd, thanks.

David Raposa, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

There was actually a very great tribute album -- one of the few ones that mostly worked -- for Wire called _Whore_, which was organized by the band or at least part of the band themselves. Inspired selection of people performing -- Mike Watt on "The 15th," Godflesh, Fudge Tunnel, Main, Bark Psychosis, Chris Connelly, etc. The fact that a certain combo named My Bloody Valentine contributed didn't hurt in the least. Anyway, fitting in with the theme of the thread, Band of Susans did an *amazing* version of "Ahead" and Scanner, I think, tackled "Eardrum Buzz." Entertaining.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I thought The Ideal Copy was amazing...you have to, with "Ahead" and "Ambitious" and such. A Bell is a Cup... started to trail off into blah, and past that there were only scattered moments worth hearing.

Sean Carruthers, Sunday, 10 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I liked The Ideal Copy -- matter of fact, that was how I got into Wire (I think I was 16 when it came out, so not being that precocious I hadn't heard Pink Flag at that point in time). I also remember A Bell Is a Cup left me with no strong impression one way or another, then just lost interest ...

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Sunday, 10 June 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...
bell is a cup and ideal copy are both excellent.

del a robbo, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

five months pass...
Seeing them being interviewed by Suzanne Somers(wearing a Feuax-catwoman suit) on a Fox Late Night Show is on of the great music moments ever.
BUT....
If I ever hear Drill again I will start shooting people.

Tony Philputt, Thursday, 10 October 2002 07:48 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

No mentions of "It's beginning to and back again"? This kept me going in the late 80s, actually... then again, it was the most dark synth Wax Trax! friendly stuff, and that was my style then... but man, those versions of "Finest Drops" and "German Shephards" were really great.

I even like most of "Manscape"... though parts of it got a little too overdramatic. Graham Lewis was certainly the Klingon of the band, and whenever his songs started, the lights dimmed, the spotlight came on, and along came the DARK ARIA OF LEWIS! Boy, that got tiring after a while.

The videos for "Ahead" and "Silk Skin Paws" were great though.

Destroy the song "Ambitious" (sorry, Graham), and Wir.

And I forgive Lewis because most of HE SAID was quite good, although it could have dated a little better.

donut bitch (donut), Thursday, 10 October 2002 08:45 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

silk skin paws was a great single.

'jutting jaws/and the stubble burns...'

jon (jon), Thursday, 10 October 2002 08:59 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Suzanne Somers...

Didn't she ask them, "what kind of a name is (whirr) anyway?"

dave225 (Dave225), Thursday, 10 October 2002 10:57 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I favour Bell Is A Cup (esp. "It's a Boy" and "Follow The Locust") over Ideal Copy, though "Madman's Honey" is one of the best later tracks. Manscape and all the various "Drills"/live-resconstructions-whatever are surprisingly weak (Manscape almost interestingly so). Wir is stronger, especially ma man Gilbert's "Ticking Mouth".

overall not nearly as good as the early and solo stuff, though
(the later singles are mostly just awful)
late-80's Wire fans are mostly American nerds on loan from R.E.M. (ouch!)

AC Marias - One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing is better late (Gilbert-) Wire.
bring back Angela Conway!

Paul (scifisoul), Thursday, 10 October 2002 15:35 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I like the Bell is a Cup and Ideal Copy much more than any of the first three albums. But the first three albums are critically better.

A Nairn (moretap), Thursday, 10 October 2002 19:55 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
I don't hold with that 'a bell is a cup until it's struck' thing.

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 19 June 2003 13:19 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

For posterity, the Wire live on Suzanne Somers show, 1987.

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Mackro Mackro, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 05:02 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hmm, let me try:

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 05:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

"hitting the top of the music charts" LOL

Bimble, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 20:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

Wow -- great version! I used to think Graham Lewis was hawt; then the mullet happened.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 21:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

It's something.

And yeah, the thing about the clip aside from obvious context/interview roffles is how spectacularly good it all sounds -- I've read a couple of comments on a similar clip elsewhere from people saying it was seeing this on the original broadcast that was something of a life-changer, at least in terms of 'you mean there's other kinds of music out there?'

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 21:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure how Wire could have bettered that performance.

I've read a couple of comments on a similar clip elsewhere from people saying it was seeing this on the original broadcast that was something of a life-changer, at least in terms of 'you mean there's other kinds of music out there?'

This happened in late '88 when I saw Robert Palmer on Arsenio Hall's show, and after he played the Heavy Nova tubthumpers he busts out with "Looking For Clues."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 21:46 (ten years ago) Permalink

seven years pass...

re-playing "the drill" for the first time in abt 20 years and loving it tbh -- reminds me more of early depeche mode than i expected

mark s, Saturday, 13 August 2016 16:10 (two years ago) Permalink

I remember.. I remember ...

Mark G, Sunday, 14 August 2016 08:56 (two years ago) Permalink

schnake

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 14 August 2016 11:43 (two years ago) Permalink

"Manscape" has grown on me over the years. Some duff bits but some really strong tracks like "Torch It".

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 14 August 2016 13:57 (two years ago) Permalink

I finally picked up a copy of "A Bell is a Cup" a month or so back but I feel like I've known it my whole life. It's... the ideal copy, er, original of a huge swath of my listening.

geoffreyess, Sunday, 14 August 2016 18:24 (two years ago) Permalink

Kidney Bingos should have been a hit.

kornrulez6969, Sunday, 14 August 2016 23:19 (two years ago) Permalink

^this

Wavy Gravy Planet Waves (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 15 August 2016 01:20 (two years ago) Permalink

"Eardrum Buzz" nearly was.

Mark G, Monday, 15 August 2016 09:52 (two years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

Just been listening to IBTABA (which remains a beautiful wintery sort of album, a live album with all the "live recording" touchstones remixed out of it, leaving beautiful ghostly crowd noises in a weird studio emptiness) and decided to give "(A Chicago) Drill - Live" from The Drill a spin... it made me so happy, you can tell how much fun they are having playing this bizarre track they've done endless variations of.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 11 March 2019 16:37 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't think Colin Newman was having much fun with it. "One of Bruce's" he dismissed it as.

The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Monday, 11 March 2019 17:00 (two months ago) Permalink

"The Drill" is relatively unessential but still a fun listen. They sure bent, twisted and otherwise mangled the song into lots of different sounds!

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 11 March 2019 17:16 (two months ago) Permalink

I don't buy it, they sound exuberant on that live recording, even Colin

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 11 March 2019 17:38 (two months ago) Permalink

If he didn't think of it, he doesn't like it, seems to be the, er, drill.

The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Monday, 11 March 2019 17:47 (two months ago) Permalink

DRILL DRILL DRILL

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 11 March 2019 18:19 (two months ago) Permalink

I was referring to "The Drill" remix album. The original song is an all-time monster.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 11 March 2019 18:34 (two months ago) Permalink

DUGGA DUGGA DUGGA

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 11 March 2019 18:36 (two months ago) Permalink

(xp) So was I.

The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Monday, 11 March 2019 19:07 (two months ago) Permalink

it is also fun to imagine him standing there glumly on stage repeating "drill drill drill" while the rest of the band goes nuts all around him.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 11 March 2019 20:54 (two months ago) Permalink

surprised at all the dislike at the top of this thread. sure manscape was kind of eh but the rest? top notch.

akm, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 20:49 (two months ago) Permalink

I've posted this before but it bears repeating, some sort of weird live jam remix of an Erasure track by Wir(e) with next to no Erasure content (irony) and it is bloody marvellous.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RJPizlCrI8

MaresNest, Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:24 (two months ago) Permalink

Someone on this board posted in 2005 and I spent a week listening to it.

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:29 (two months ago) Permalink

lol at the credits

Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer's Day) (Figures In Crumbs (Wire Remix))

Bass – Graham Lewis
Engineer – Paul Mysiak
Guitar – Bruce Gilbert, Colin Newman
Mixed By – Erasure, Gareth Jones, Wire
Programmed By [Drums & Sequence] – Vince Clarke
Vocals, Other [Concept] – Andy Bell

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:30 (two months ago) Permalink

I think Manscape was one of the first half-dozen CDs that I owned, so I gave it a lot of spins despite not loving it... it never occurred to me that it wasn't a good record. I made early use of my CD player's ability to repeat one track with "You Hung Your Lights in the Trees/A Craftsman's Touch".

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 12 March 2019 21:38 (two months ago) Permalink


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