Wire - 154: Classic or Dud?

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The room is spinning. I think it's the greatest album ever. I only wish I had it when I was 15. What do you think?

sundar subramanian, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

it's the second greatest album ever, after chairs missing. (just as "map ref" is the second greatest song ever, right after "outdoor miner." why they didn't put that one on on returning -- the best of -- is beyond me.)

fred solinger, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I bought on tape in 1989 (at 19) Wire - on Returning 1977 - 79, I have still not heard the original albums.

DJ Martian, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

If "Map Ref" isn't the second greatest, it's the first greatest -- I can't decide. "Single KO" should've been on On Returning, too. Well, 154 in its entirety should've been on On Returning. I spose that wouldn't leave much room, though.

Andy, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Mike Watt would agree with you.

"154" is up there. I still have "the 15th", "map ref", "40 version", "mutual friend", and "blessed state" as mp3s on my machine since I started working here.

In fact, I even imagined what a "154" tribute record would be like.. There's a rock band that was influenced by every single song on this one:

  • Sonic Youth -- "Two People In A Room"
  • Nomeansno -- "Once is Enough"
  • Wedding Present -- "40 Versions"
  • Polvo -- "Mutual Friend"
  • Superchunk -- "The 15th"
  • Radiohead -- "I Should Have Known Better"
  • The Strokes -- "On Returning" (HAW HAW! Kidding!)
  • Seefeel -- "Map Ref.." (Look, "THEEEE BAND" already covered it.. give someone else a chance at it)

That said, "Whore" is one of the better tribute CDs out there

Brian MacDonald, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Antecedents! Antecedents!

The previous list was what I imagined what a good "154" tribute would be, not who I think were directly influenced by each song respectively...

Brian MacDonald, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Brian, jeez. ;-)

I will weakly echo all the praise since all the praise has already been offered. And since MBV was indirectly invoked, here's the bit from the interview I did with one K. Shields about his lurv for Wire:

I note that while a lot of artists on (Whore) provided little liner notes explaining how they got into Wire, you didn't, so I wanted to ask: have you all been long-time Wire fans in the band? The thing about Wire is, sometime in '85 or '86, I knew this guy who worked in a record shop; he was a mad Wire fan, a really big fan. I'd heard one or two things by them, and they didn't have any real effect on me. But then one day it hit me that some of the stuff they were doing was done ten years ago, and it was very strange, like 'What is this music?' Other stuff was very catchy, almost Beatle-like, with harmonies and nice vocals. I just thought it was really liberating that someone could do that, because I'd come across a couple of bands before that were like that, and there were a couple of bands in the past that were like that. But whenever you come across a new example, and the fact that this was done ten years ago meant a lot to me, and helped form my whole idea of what we could do. When the idea was put to us to do a Wire cover, I thought it would be good to do, if I could do one of the Wire songs that inspired me, I suppose, to not be afraid of being a pop group. Not a pop group with an intent to be pop stars, but a pop group in a sense that you're writing music that's essentially pop music, easy, instinctive music, but you're also doing other stuff, because that comes the same way, as opposed to placing limits and saying, "Well, we can't do that, it's too catchy." To me it seems like a real tragedy, when people do that. You often wonder about a certain band, do they write really good songs and then just not do them because it sounds too good, or too catchy, or takes away from the mood that they've got? Like Metallica, they always have to be within a certain area, they have to be Metallica. I don't know; I just like the idea of people who can do anything, a bit like the way the Velvet Underground used to do it.

Like the gentle pop tunes up against the lengthy, free-form experiments?

Yeah, what was good. They were into what was good, and I don't think they put a big distinction between what John Coltrane was doing and what the Beach Boys would be doing. I think that's the key. To me, between John Coltrane and Brian Wilson is something. It's good, and that's what makes it the same, a sort of good.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Hugely Classic! I can listen to Pink Flag/Chairs Missing/154 endlessly and constantly revise which is my favourite. Will talk more about this later.

Dr. C, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Almost uber-classic. Not quite up there with House Tornado, Loveless, DI Go Pop and Unknown Pleasures in my own pantheon, but it's not far off.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

154 is my favorite Wire album, and "Map Ref" is my favorite Wire song. Surprise surprise. Classic.

Ian, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I like Pink Flag way better.

Kris, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

It didn't grab me at first (except for Map Ref) after the first 2 LPs, in fact, I derided it as "Punk Floyd." I have warmed up to it a lot, but I still like the first 2 better. I remember rock critic Richard Meltzer once wrote that Map Ref was the best song in the world.

, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

greatest record evah made

i once fell in love with someone not least becuz they announced the above w/i being asked (along w. iggy pop's lust for life)

it didn't work and then some BUT whenever i remember this fact i entirely totally forget the not working part and reach for the phone to call em up

No 3: Kiss Alive!

mark s, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I can just see Mark S getting smashed on cold gin and roaring along with Paul Stanley's sermons on the mount (cf Chuck Eddy). "AWRIGHT!"

Ned Raggett, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
Classic, yup. What's funny is how I got all outraged when it came out, ranting about how it represented the "Pink Floyding of punk"! Now I listen to it and it's just as punk as anything else they ever did (definitely punker than what happened to 'em later).

Speed was cheaper then, of course.

Matt Riedl (veal), Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
Oi.

I just bought a DVD of Wire doing a "154" show from German TV, 1979. They encore with "Pink Flag", though who cares? The stuff they play before that is one of the best shows I've ever seen by a band. Incredibly intense, slightly pretentious at points but still so super amazing. I was kinda dumbfounded after watching it.

There's a selection of 80's clips at the end of the DVD by Wire and their solo side incarnations, but except for the solo stuff it's just horribly dated. Except for "Ahead".

Jay Vee (Manon_70), Thursday, 4 December 2003 21:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Where can I find this?!?!?

Kate Silver (Kate Silver), Thursday, 4 December 2003 21:48 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Maybe I should buy this. I love "The 15th" but don't really not the other material. But I've never heard another Wire song I liked (and I have heard a 90 minute cassette worth, at least--not recent material either).

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 4 December 2003 21:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Where can I find this?!?!?

They've got it at Mondo Kim's here in NYC. Along with DVD's of old Factory videos, Blondie clips, Smiths at Versailles --- some great things that all seem to be the handiwork of someone with an awesome video collection who's just compiling onto DVD-R and selling through Kim's. Not entirely legal but -- hey, you know.

Jay Vee (Manon_70), Thursday, 4 December 2003 21:54 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

154 is brain-fuckingly excellent and the best Wire thing by a million miles.

DVD sounds great; snarl.

F. Anthony O'Reilly (Ferg), Thursday, 4 December 2003 22:55 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Like the previous two records, it is perfect - only gripe would be the art-school pretention and wrong vocalist in 'The Other Window' - Peel session version of this is better.

Sasha (sgh), Friday, 5 December 2003 01:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Classic.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Friday, 5 December 2003 05:13 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

One of my favourite albums in history. I don't have a vinyl copy, and I can't help but wonder if it always sounded as murky as it does on CD. I don't expect Steely Dan, but still.

Schwingung (Damian), Friday, 5 December 2003 09:19 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Classic, I blast "the 15th" alot. One of my favorite 5 albums in the whole world.

sucka (sucka), Friday, 5 December 2003 11:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

ISITTOOLATETOCHANGEMYMIND? TOO LATE! TOO LAAATE! TOO LAAAAAAAATE-AAHHH!

Oh fuck, that's on Chairs Missing!

Dr. C (Dr. C), Friday, 5 December 2003 20:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Classique!

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 5 December 2003 20:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Dud. very dud. Except for "The 15th" and "Map Ref."

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:21 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm listening to it now, it's classic, certainly better than anything by Good Charlotte or Limp Bizkit.

hstencil, Friday, 5 December 2003 22:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

fraid not. Though Pink Flag is better than any Limp Bizkit album. Though not as good as Good Charlotte's last.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:26 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm waiting for someone to disagree with me and claim the album I don't like is better than anything by the Fall or the Human League. Just for a change.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I kind of agree with Anthony. I go directly to those two songs. Still, it's a nice record to have on in the background while working (I just put it on, too).

Why the Limp and Good Charlotte comparisons?

Kate Silver (Kate Silver), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:30 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

it's better than some albums by the Fall, no question.

hstencil, Friday, 5 December 2003 22:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Kate, mentioning those bands is just a joke at Anthony's expense, no harm intended.

hstencil, Friday, 5 December 2003 22:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'A Mutual Friend' very gradually lumbers into being an absolutely fantastic song also

F. Anthony O'Reilly (Ferg), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I just can't stand all the turgid bullshit on 154. Prog for punks, blech.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

beats bad rap for wannabe metalheads, if you ask me.

hstencil, Friday, 5 December 2003 22:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

154 easily one of the best 100 or so records ever made. Easily.

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:37 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

MBV's version of "Map Ref" is better than the original too.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Mike Watt's version of "the 15th" is possibly more entertaining than the original, at least the first time you hear it. But the original's qualities are more enduring.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Miccio now I know you are insane.

hstencil, Friday, 5 December 2003 22:41 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i think it's as good as the previous two records

amateur!st (amateurist), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I bought the Fischerspooner record for their 15th cover. It's almost too faithful.

Kate Silver (Kate Silver), Friday, 5 December 2003 22:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Prog for punks? You say that like it's a bad thing.

Schwingung (Damian), Saturday, 6 December 2003 02:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Though not as good as Good Charlotte's last.

You should be slapped across the face with a sandpaper glove for that comment.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 6 December 2003 03:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

154 is a good counterpart to pere ubu's first.

I was listening to 154 this morning and the lyrics are fantastic.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 6 December 2003 15:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Young And The Hopeless > Pink Flag > Modern Dance >>>>>>>>> 154

Cinnimiccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 6 December 2003 16:37 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

But Robert Pollard agrees with y'all. And I'm sure Peter Gabriel would like 154 too.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 6 December 2003 16:37 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

haha

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Saturday, 6 December 2003 16:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

getting the making of this album explained to me by the person who produced it was very cool i must admit!

and yeah i love it

geeta (geeta), Saturday, 6 December 2003 16:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

You interviewed Mike Thorne, eh? Not that I'm jealous or would like to read a complete transcription or anything.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 6 December 2003 17:12 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Blessed State" oh, what a pearl.

nerve_pylon, Saturday, 19 September 2009 21:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

most/all of the Rockpalast (1979 German TV) performances are on YouTube, just search Wire Rockpalast (or individual 154 titles). features much/most of the album live(?) - oddly enough sounds reasonably close sonically/arrangements to the album versions (unlike the dry demos). worth checking just to see it sung! (and that music coming from 4 guys...)

Paul, Sunday, 20 September 2009 00:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Yeah they put that out on DVD too. Wire on the Box. There are some Chairs Missing songs in the set, and a really nice "Pink Flag" right at the end.

Trip Maker, Sunday, 20 September 2009 00:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

Is there anyone who really doesn't think this is a total classic? Even if you prefer the previous albums (which on some days I do).

The "Behind The Curtains" versions are amazing, though, in that neither-here-nor-there midground they straddle between punk and post-punk.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 20 September 2009 01:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

i think it's really good but not a total classic; a few songs that just bore me. "a touching display", "map ref", and the first three tracks are definitely classic.

skeletor, Sunday, 20 September 2009 02:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

kinda in the mood for this album, all of a sudden

skeletor, Sunday, 20 September 2009 02:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

xp a few songs that just bore me

skeletor, Sunday, 20 September 2009 02:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

Glad to see the love for this. Seems like it was often unfairly derided as a dip in quality. Poppycock. It's #24 on my all-time list. It would be higher, except there was a lot of competition from that era, like Television, Buzzcocks, Feelies, Gang of Four, Raincoats, P.i.L.

Wire On The Box: 1979 is available on Netflix!

Fastnbulbous, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 16:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

rah!

Mark G, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 23:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

Providing
Deciding

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 26 January 2012 15:21 (six years ago) Permalink

It was soon there

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 26 January 2012 15:43 (six years ago) Permalink

so fucking classic, this is the first post-punk album that blew my mind

♈ᘮﬡᕮ-Ꭹᗩᖇᗪᔕ - ᗯ ᖺ ᗢ Ḱ ᓰ ᒪ ᒪ (diamonddave85), Thursday, 26 January 2012 16:08 (six years ago) Permalink

It really redefined the meaning of vendetta for me.

Clarke B., Thursday, 26 January 2012 16:20 (six years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

It was soon there

― kornrulez6969, Thursday, January 26, 2012 3:43 PM (1 month ago) Bookmark

so fucking classic, this is the first post-punk album that blew my mind

― ♈ᘮﬡᕮ-Ꭹᗩᖇᗪᔕ - ᗯ ᖺ ᗢ Ḱ ᓰ ᒪ ᒪ (diamonddave85), Thursday, January 26, 2012 4:08 PM (1 month ago) Bookmark

69 + 85 = 154 Huh? HUH???!!

John Nestle Harding (loves laboured breathing), Sunday, 18 March 2012 01:19 (six years ago) Permalink

No, 154 was the number of gigs they had played at that point. Or so the legend says.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 18 March 2012 01:33 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah that's what I heard as well

John Nestle Harding (loves laboured breathing), Sunday, 18 March 2012 01:49 (six years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

When I was in my late teens, I was encouraged to buy this album at a used record shop (ca. 1998, maybe). The shop owner (an old-school punk) said: we used to get high and listen to this album. Best sort-of-advice I ever received!

softspool, Tuesday, 23 December 2014 07:58 (three years ago) Permalink

Classic! This may actually be my favourite Wire album.

You’re being too simplistic and you’re insulting my poor heart (Turrican), Tuesday, 23 December 2014 17:09 (three years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

/\ That was supposed to be "WTF is the art?"

Royal Trux/TFUL282/Devo Obsesso (edges), Friday, 21 August 2015 20:40 (three years ago) Permalink

"Chorus!"

You’re being too simplistic and you’re insulting my poor heart (Turrican), Friday, 21 August 2015 21:05 (three years ago) Permalink

i have always found this album mostly impenetrable, save "i should have known better", "the 15th", "a touching display", "map ref", and ESPECIALLY "40 versions". "40 Versions" is just unbelievably sick.

brimstead, Friday, 21 August 2015 21:33 (three years ago) Permalink

A Mutual Friend 4eva!!!

kornrulez6969, Friday, 21 August 2015 21:54 (three years ago) Permalink

re the cover:
SPOILER!!!!

look away

it says WIRE in highly stylized typography
turn the album cover upside down
unmistakeable 'W' right?
the 'i' is easy to see too

squiggly/rippled line/strips represent 'r'
3 lines or strips are the 'e'

Paul, Friday, 21 August 2015 23:20 (three years ago) Permalink

think the designer managed to get other references in there too, like pink flag...

Paul, Friday, 21 August 2015 23:27 (three years ago) Permalink

so what does the back cover say?

new noise, Friday, 21 August 2015 23:29 (three years ago) Permalink

Designed by Lewis and Gilbert I think? (not sure I buy your theory that it say 'Wire')

Stupidityness (Tom D.), Friday, 21 August 2015 23:32 (three years ago) Permalink

all part of the same picture if you have the LP

Paul, Friday, 21 August 2015 23:35 (three years ago) Permalink

the W wraps around to the back so you may not see it if you're not looking at the LP cover

Paul, Friday, 21 August 2015 23:39 (three years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

this album is perfect

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, 3 December 2018 12:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

correct!

imago, Monday, 3 December 2018 12:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

what is your favourite song

imago, Monday, 3 December 2018 12:12 (two weeks ago) Permalink

https://i.ibb.co/MB2Vgf3/154.jpg

would wear wire

my name is leee john, for we are many (NickB), Monday, 3 December 2018 12:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

what is your favourite song

― imago, Monday, December 3, 2018 5:12 AM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

idk! at this point "a touching display" i think?

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, 3 December 2018 13:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Don't tell Alfred.

Monica Kindle (Tom D.), Monday, 3 December 2018 14:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

hot take: goth prog is good

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, 3 December 2018 14:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Damn, those sweaters are the ultimate post-punk Dad uniform.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 3 December 2018 14:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm sure someone could do a Christmas version as well.

Monica Kindle (Tom D.), Monday, 3 December 2018 15:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

a touching display is a fine, fine choice, probably in my top three

still can't look beyond i should have known better for #1 tho. one of those openers that guarantees the album immortality no matter what the rest of it is like

imago, Monday, 3 December 2018 15:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

obviously the rest of it is full of stuff like a mutual friend and on returning so it would be immortal even without ISHKB but still

imago, Monday, 3 December 2018 15:27 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"A Touching Display" was always my favourite too.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 3 December 2018 15:41 (two weeks ago) Permalink

154: I should have POLLed better?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the two shortest songs are my favorites, but the whole thing is soooooo classic

Karl Malone, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i heard a long time ago that the first three wire album covers are meant to work together, in combination. i was absolutely certain of this, and even thought i saw an image that showed how it looked.

i'm doing it now and it doesn't look right at all? am i making all this up?

Karl Malone, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

pink flag and chairs missing makes some sense, overlaid. but 154 throws everything off.

Karl Malone, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

pink flag / chairs missing:

https://i.imgur.com/2idNn2d.jpg

pink flag / chairs missing / 154:

https://i.imgur.com/XdFC35p.jpg

Karl Malone, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

ah, thanks J Sam. the On Returning comp is a remix of the covers. i must have seen it when i was younger and assumed it just a full overlay. how many weird lies have i told myself over the years, this could be a problem

Karl Malone, Monday, 3 December 2018 17:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink

154 throws everything off.

― Karl Malone, Monday, December 3, 2018 10:39 AM (four minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

there's no center, so otm

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, 3 December 2018 17:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink

what is your favourite song

― imago, Monday, December 3, 2018 5:12 AM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

idk. at this point "a touching display" i think?

― jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, December 3, 2018

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 3 December 2018 17:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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