I had a quick look on Discogs to see if there were any second-hand copies of today’s debut single, by Wire, up for sale.

There’s loads of them, ranging in price from £50-£350, although the seller who is seeking the highest amount seems a bit ambitious, given that all he/she is offering is the 7” plastic in a generic record company sleeve while others, who are looking for a bit less, do have the single available in the picture sleeve from 1977.

I’m prepared to guess that maybe 15-20 years ago, you could have picked up Mannequin for £25 tops, but such has been the recent explosive growth in the demand for original vinyl from the good old days that sellers are asking a premium and there’s folk out there willing to pay. I sort of get it, but as I get older, it is decreasingly so.

I started this blog 13 years ago, ostensibly to try and post songs that were almost impossible to find, usually consisting of b-sides only issued on vinyl or different mixes of singles, again otherwise not available other than vinyl. Things have been overtaken with just about every singer/band from the punk, post-punk, new wave and 80s era being happy enough for old albums to be re-released, often with additional material, such as demos, b-sides and single mixes, to be tagged on. It’s a clever way to continue to extract money from fans and there’s a certain democratic element to it as it means that fans can complete their collections without having to fork out silly amounts of money.

My best personal take on it is that my hunt for a copy of the debut Orange Juice single slowed down once the tracks were made available via a CD reissue of all the Postcard Records material and it ground to a halt when the vinyl revival saw the price for the original artefact go through the roof. In some ways, getting your hands on original vinyl from the 70s/80s, especially those which weren’t pressed in any significant amounts, has become like collecting pieces of visual art such as paintings or sculptures, where all too often, it is only the moneyed and privileged who can participate.

I’ll now get off my soapbox and return to the business of the day.

Wire weren’t loved by many back in 1977. They were critically lauded in some places but there was little in the way of mass appeal. The debut album, Pink Flag, didn’t chart. It was, in many respects, ahead of its time as there can’t have been many prior LPs that contained 21 songs but with a running time of just over 35 minutes. It was music of a different quality and distinction and although it has retrospectively been lauded as one of the most original pieces of work to emerge out of the UK at any point in time, and has proven to be a huge influence on so many acts who would find fame and fortune in future times, hardly anybody knew it.

I’d be very surprised if the debut single was ever played on mainstream radio, other than by the usual suspect, John Peel:-

mp3 : Wire – Mannequin
mp3 : Wire – Feeling Called Love
mp3 : Wire – 1.2.X.U

More than 40 years on, these three songs still sound fresh, vibrant, edgy and exciting. They also sound familiar as so many bands would appropriate the Wire methodology in later years, often making a fair bit of money in the process.

All the tracks were available on Pink Flag, itself an album that has never been too difficult to find, having had its first re-release on CD in 1987, which also coincided with the label re-issuing it on vinyl. As such, none of the three songs were ever really obscure, and yet you have the situation of the 7” single fetching silly amounts. The original pressing of the album, which although not a great seller would still have found its way into more homes than the debut single, can be got for as ‘little’ as £60 or as much as £450, with the seller advising the vinyl and its sleeve are near-mint. Just as incredibly, a copy of the cassette version from 1977 is also up for grabs….£80 and its all yours with the seller saying “Tape looks in excellent condition, artwork is lovely, very slight corner wear. IS in original case, which is a bit worn, happy to replace with a new one, but it will be all clear, and this one has a black back”

Would it really be any better to hear the songs via these high-priced medium than any other?



Just eight days ago, Mike from Manic Pop Thrills provided an excellent ICA from Wire, concentrating on their 21st Century output. In doing so, he made the observation that an ICA looking at their initial material would need special dispensation as 10 tracks would make for a very short album. He’s right….and so what follows is something fitting onto one side of an old fashioned C90 cassette, drawn entirely from the era of the three albums released in the 70s – Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978) and 154 (1979).

Mike’s piece provided a full bio of the band so I’ll just go straight to the music….

1) 12 X U – from Pink Flag
2) Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW – from 154
3) Practice Makes Perfect – from Chairs Missing
4) Outdoor Miner (single version)
5) Three Girl Rhumba – from Pink Flag
6) The Other Window (Peel Session)
7) 106 Beats That – from Pink Flag
8) Another The Letter – from Chairs Missing
9) On Returning – from 154
10) Dot Dash (single)
11) Different To Me – from Pink Flag
12) I Am The Fly – from Chairs Missing
13) Two People In A Room – from 154
14) Ex Lion Tamer – from Pink Flag
15) A Question of Degree (single)
16) Mannequin – from Pink Flag
17) Blessed State – from 154
18) Feeling Called Love – from Pink Flag
19) Marooned – from Chairs Missing
20) Mr Suit – from Pink Flag

And here’s the evidence that it all adds up to just under 45 minutes:

mp3 : Wire – An Imaginary Compilation Album




Wire. A British rock institution rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of their first gig as a 4 piece. And, after all that time, still making great albums.

Yet, funnily enough, they were a band who remained on the periphery of my experience for so long. Definitely someone I knew I should check out but hadn’t actually managed to properly do so until a few years ago. Fair to say, since I did, Wire have belatedly become something of an obsession.

For much of their lifespan, Wire have featured only four members – Colin Newman (guitar/vocals), Graeme Lewis (bass/vocals), Robert Grey (nee Gotobed) – drums) and Bruce Gilbert (guitar).

Yet, despite a remarkably stable line-up, intra-band tensions have always played a huge part in the Wire story. Wilson Neate’s book ‘Read & Burn: A Book About Wire’ is a superb telling of their history portraying it as a struggle for control between principally Newman and Gilbert.

Of course, the outline of Wire’s story is fairly well known. The late 70s produced three classic LPs in ‘Pink Flag’, ‘Chairs Missing’ and ‘154’ on which the band pretty much invented post punk. This purple patch however was curtailed by an acrimonious split with songs written for a fourth album.

Perhaps surprisingly after several years apart the band came together again in the mid 80s. Their 80s/90s output is less well regarded than the original trilogy but almost any band would consider the run of records from the ‘Snakedrill’ E.P. to ‘The First letter’’ to constitute a decent career.

Having lost drummer Gotobed during the band’s second incarnation, the internal dynamics of the remaining three members meant that they ceased activity for a second time in 1991.

Unexpectedly the band reconvened for live shows and to produce another LP ‘Send’ in the early Noughties. Since then, although Gilbert left the band for good after ‘Send’, the band have enjoyed the most active phase of their career releasing four albums and a mini-LP since 2008 with another album due at the end of March.

After a period of operating with three official members the band finally recruited guitarist Matthew Sims as a permanent member in time to record 2013’s ‘Change Becomes Us’.

Selecting a 10 track ICA from the band’s entire career would be next to impossible for two reasons. Firstly, any career long compilation is going to feel bitty and incomplete because there’s so much to choose from and the records cover such a lot of ground. Secondly, given how short some of the earlier material was, it would be a fairly short album! Perhaps JC will give special permission for a 16 or even 20 track 70s Wire ICA at some point.

(JC adds….Yup!!! Watch this space……)

So, for those reasons I’ve concentrated on 21st century Wire with the second aim of perhaps alerting some folk to the fact that Wire remain a potent creative force.

1 Doubles & Trebles (from ‘Change Becomes Us’)

Released in 2013, CBU is something of an oddity as the majority of the songs were actually written in the early 80s for the band’s planned fourth album. That record was never made because of the band’s first split although many of the songs were captured in rudimentary form on live albums ‘Document & Eyewitness’ and ‘Turns and Strokes’. What’s remarkable is that how recognisable many of the songs on CBU are from these scratchy live recordings.

‘Doubles & Trebles’, with its air of paranoia and 70s spy craft, went by the name of ‘Ally In Exile’ for most of the intervening 30 years between its conception and its eventual recording. Its basic riff has also spawned at least one other close relative from the ‘Send’ era in ‘I Don’t Understand It’.

2 Comet (from ’Send’)

A brutal return, ‘Send’ was constructed by Newman and Gilbert largely through cut and paste sampling (‘12XU’ is apparently liberally sprinkled throughout the record!) with Lewis’s and Grey’s parts emailed in. Frantic, punk rock filtered through the Young Gods, ‘Comet’ is a black story about the astronomer who discovers a comet that will obliterate all life on Earth.

3 Smash (from ‘Red Barked Tree’)

Although ‘Red Barked Tree’ is the album that opened up possibilities for Wire, ‘Smash’ is another relentless crash and bang tune. For my money RBT, which along with ‘Send’, is probably the best 21st century Wire album.

4 Split Your Ends (from ‘Wire’)

Are there many band that self-title their FOURTEENTH album? A typically perverse Wire move for an album that refines rather than redefines their sound.

‘Split Your Ends’ is one of the poppier moments off the album yet it’s a tune that still builds up a fair head of steam. Its essence is unmistakeably Wire.

5 Red Barked Tree (from Red Barked Tree’)

Wire have always had a dirgy side to their music and ‘Red Barked Tree’ fits in even if it deals in more organic textures than the band would normally use. Newman has said that this song was a big influence in plotting a way forward for the band.

6 One of Us (from ‘Object 47’)

The first post Gilbert album opened with the chorus ‘One of us is going to rue the day we met each other’. A coincidence?

With its driving bassline, ‘One of Us’ is a propulsive opening which signifies that Wire could escape the darkness and claustrophobia of ‘Send’.

It has to be said despite being littered with great moments, ‘Object 47’ isn’t not the most convincing record overall. Yet it was a critical record proving to the remaining three members that they could take Wire forward without Gilbert.

7 Spent (from ‘Send’)

More claustrophobia from ‘Send’ with its principal riff locked into a savage loop. An unexpected encore at the 2013 Tut’s show.

8 Desert Diving (from ‘Read and Burn 03’)

In deciding what to do with the tracks that the band had worked on around Gilbert’s departure, a decision was taken to put those songs that he had had the most influence on out as a four track E.P. keeping the remaining tracks for ‘Object 47’.

In truth the album might have benefitted from a couple of the E.P. tracks although the two records do have distinguishing characteristics with the E.P. having a more languid sound. Indeed, lead track ’23 Years Too Late’ is nearly 10 minutes long!

9 Fishes Bones (from ‘Nocturnal Koreans’)

Although last year’s mini-LP ‘Nocturnal Koreans’ originated from the same sessions as ‘Wire’ it is nothing like a record of cast-offs. Rather it demonstrates that the band hasn’t lost its sense for quality control.

The band differentiated the two records by virtue of the fact that ‘Wire’ was designed to be played live whereas NK features far more studio effects.

‘Fishes Bones’ is a typically off kilter Wire tune.

10 Harpooned (from ‘Wire’)

If ‘Split Your Ends’ comes from the more accessible end of ‘Wire’ then LP closer ‘Harpooned’ is coming from the opposite direction. Musically as harsh a song as anything they’ve done post ‘Send’ ‘Harpooned’ is an addictive black hole sucking everything into it. It’s also utterly astonishing live.

Bonus track:

11 Drill (live) (from ‘The Black Session’)

The only song Wire have played at the three shows I’ve seen them play since 2011. This version is taken from a show recorded for French radio around the time they toured ‘Red Barked Tree’.




Released in February 1978. It didn’t get near the charts. Indeed, I’d be surprised if it got much in the way of radio play. I know for sure that John Peel would have played it as it was performed in session in January 1978, one of three such sessions that Wire did for his show. But his listeners weren’t that enthusiastic, never once voting the quartet into the Festive 50 during their late 70s/early 80s heyday.

But it’s considered a classic of its ilk nowadays:-

mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly

The flip side of the 7″ was one of the most popular tracks from the previous LP, Pink Flag, that had been released in November 1977:-

mp3 : Wire – Ex-Lion Tamer

And to round things off:-

mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)



Keeping It Peel - October 25th


and in particular:-

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session)
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Lover’s Town (Peel Session)
mp3 : Cinerama – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Delgados – No Danger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Mr Cave’s A Window Cleaner Now (Peel Session)
mp3 : Madness _ Bed & Breakfast Man (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (Peel Session)
mp3 : T.Rex – Ride A White Swan (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Wire – I Am The Fly (Peel Session)




Standards have been slipping badly in recent weeks.

There’s been too many stupid errors creeping in with one of the the worst examples being when I forgot to uploads the links to the tunes. Many of the posts have been lazy rehashes of old material and there’s barely been an original though shared with you in weeks. I could blame it on being busy at work or the fact that much of whatever little spare time I’ve had has been taken up with things away from the PC – for instance the shedload of great gigs I’ve been lucky enough to attend in recent weeks (something that is of relevance to this blog) while the weekend just passed was spent with a crowd of long-time mates playing golf and drinking till all hours in the same way we have doing at a weekend in June every year since 1989 (something that is of no relevance to this blog – but which you are going to hear a little bit about…).

I’ve just got home on Sunday evening and I’m dead beat. My powers of recovery from a weekend of golf combined with over-indulging in alcohol and getting very few hours of sleep in a strange bed are not what they used to be. I wanted so badly to come in and get inspired as I sat looking at the screen with my fingers poised above the keyboard. But nothing is coming. So you’ll need to make do with another old posting….from November 2009 as part of a series entitled The Class of 79:-


There’s just no way I could ever claim to have bought this back in 1979. I listened to John Peel occasionally, but not every night. And his was the only show that played any songs by Wire.

And although I became aware of them during my students days in the early 80s, I didn’t rush out and but any of their albums. Indeed, I think the first thing I ever owned was a John Peel Sessions CD released in the early 90s (and it was courtesy of a birthday or Xmas present from my amigo Jacques The Kipper)

But in recent times, with the records of old being repackaged and reissued, I’ve got a hold of all three of the albums that were released in the 70s and now realise just how important and special they were.

The band also released six singles in the 70s, of which this was the nearest to a hit, reaching #51 in January 1979:-

mp3 : Wire – Outdoor Miner
mp3 : Wire – Practice Makes Perfect

The single was actually a re-recorded and extended version of a song that had appeared on 1978 LP Chairs Missing.

And it is quite wonderful.



As much as I thoroughly love the debut LP by Elastica, I do sometimes cringe at the fact that so many of their best tunes were total rip-offs:-

mp3 : Elastica – Connection
mp3 : Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

mp3 : Elastica – Waking Up
mp3 : The Stranglers – No More Heroes

They didn’t even begin to disguise their influences, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the self-titled debut LP from 1995 is one of the best and most enduring of the Britpop era. Strangely enough, at a time when all sorts of unforgettable acts had 45s (or more accurately CD singles as vinyl was totally out of fashion) that went high in the charts, none of the four tracks lifted from Elastica went Top 10. The album however, did hit the #1 spot.

By the time the band got over all sorts of personnel problems and released their follow-up LP in 2000, their fan base had moved on to other things and they were more or less ignored. But I reckon they still made great music, stuff that still that owed a debt to so many folk – but at least they acknowledged it this time:-

mp3 : Elastica – How He Wrote Elastica Man
mp3 : The Fall – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’