Formed in the outer metropolitan backwater of Watford in 1977, Wire are one of those bands of which you've maybe never heard of but have helped shape much of what's been defined as "British" music over the last 40 years. With punk as an art form rapidly outgrowing its narrow musical horizons, a number of groups emerged who embraced the movement's more nihilist tendencies but rejected its cartoon personal politics, a cadre of which the likes of Wire, Gang of Four and The Pop Group were at the vanguard. Without little in common other than a willingness to confront drab conformity, their shared template would go on to (lamentably) spawn the "New Wave" and be owed a debt by parochial scions from Blur to the Arctic Monkeys
The quartet - Graham Lewis, Robert Bruce and Colin Newman, along with the splendidly named drummer Robert Gotobed - would go on to record three albums, of which their début 'Pink Flag' would become a corner stone of what became understood as post-punk. Both Newman and Bruce were former art school students who intuitively shaped both the band's attitude to performance and composition, revelling in the aesthetic confusion of the era. 'Pink Flag' was to be followed in rapid order by 1978's 'Chairs Missing' and the following year's '154', both critically acclaimed but neither ridding them of a reputation for challenging the record buying public and label bosses alike.
As you may have guessed by now, the record-tour-record cycle was not one that Newman and co. were particularly comfortable with, and tensions both of the internal and external kind would eventually force them into a messy breakup in 1980. 'Document And Eyewitness' was originally released as a post-script to that dissolution (Wire would reform in 1987), a collection of live recordings, demos and rehearsals, the sort of which it is standard practice to issue today.
Continue reading: Wire - Document And Eyewitness - 1979-1980 Album Review
Here's what to expect from Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend (19th - 21st July 2013).
Every summer this globally loved festival presents some 40 plus artists from all parts of the music spectrum, including both classic chart-toppers and new emerging talent, to 50,000 indie fans. They have been praised over their seven year existence for their cheap ticket prices and friendly atmosphere and that's not about to go any time soon. Apart from great live music on show for three days, there's some of the best indie vinyls for sale at the CHIRP Record Fair, some excellent posters and art-pieces about, as well as a craft fair and an array of musical books and magazines. It's not just for Stateside music fans though, the festival hits Europe for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris on October 31st, November 1st and November 2nd.
Continue reading: Union Park Prepares For Its Seventh Annual Pitchfork Music Festival
Wire's career started with a remarkable three year purple patch. It's not just that 1977's Pink Flag, 1978's Chairs Missing and 1979's 154 were great albums; they were also remarkably different albums. Pink Flag was a tense, tightly coiled punk record; Chairs Missing was slower, darker, deeper; the rambling, diverse 154 sounded almost gothic. Each record saw them master a particular sound, but not once did they stand around to admire their handiwork. They were too busy trying something new. In the circumstances, it's mildly disappointing that Red Barked Tree isn't a dubstep album or an exploration of recent hip-hip sounds. Instead it's an accomplished refinement of many of their pre-existing ideas and interests which should appeal to long-standing fans and anybody with an interest in off-kilter guitar music.
Continue reading: Wire, Red Barked Tree Album Review
What's new in the music world this week?
'Sounds of Silence' was released on this day (January 17th) in 1966.
Listen to Alex Bayly performing 'Animal'.
Two weeks ahead of Independent Venue Week, Dry Cleaning made 'Britain's Best Small Venue 2015' (NME) the second port of call on their 2020 tour.
'Leave Home' was released on this day (January 10th) in 1977.
For their last gig of the year, The Libertines came back to their adopted hometown of Margate to finish off their latest tour.
Celebrating the birthday of David Bowie with his most legendary songs.