Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Another Wire Classic

Wire's first three records "Pink Flag," "Chairs Missing," and "154" are regarded not only as groundbreaking, but as classics in the punk and post-punk movement. These records didn't sound like your basic punk records back then, and 40 years later, they play like nothing else now. This trifecta to begin a career is quite amazing. Even more amazing is that 40 years later, Wire has released a record that is just as amazing. "Mind Hive" was released a few weeks back, and it feels like the perfect follow-up to "154."

Wire lost me along the way. Since 1979's "154," the band has released at least a dozen records and have toured sporadically. So I will admit, if there were other records since "154" that were as strong, I haven't heard them and would love to. Feel free to lead me to the right ones. Until then, "Mind Hive" is getting heavy rotation.

If you're unfamiliar with Wire, I'd rather not pigeonhole the band with the punk label, though I think it fits more as an attitude than a sound. "Pink Flag" and "Chairs Missing" were single LPs loaded with 20 and 16 tracks, respectively, some running a little over a minute and some as long as six minutes. But these records weren't your "1-2-3-4" smash and attack type punk records and neither is "Mind Hive."

This is minimalist, yet effective music. It's insistent and hook-filled.  At times, the beauty of the melodies will sneak out and up over the chaos. "Mind Hive" works for me, in a Brian Eno "Another Green World" meets The Buzzcocks "A Different Kind Of Tension" world of music.

I am always thrilled when a band I love can release something wonderful and relevant a half of a lifetime after the fact. Maybe that has a little bit of an affect on my listening. But even if you know nothing about Wire and the classic trio of records from 40 years past, "Mind Hive" should still have something to offer. For me, though, it's the fourth brilliant album of the band's long career.


Anonymous said...

The Wire fans I know were ecstatic with their American tour last year and with the new record. A few of them tout it as their best album since Change Becomes Us, so that's one to check out, too.

Anonymous said...

Should also mention that Colin Newman's solo albums are always interesting, tho like Wire, the first three (Singing Fish, Not To, A-Z) are the most engaging. Pretty amazing how Newman's voice remains the same after 40 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty new to Wire only having heard Outdoor Miner covered by The Grays, which spurred me to check out the band. The first thing I heard was 2011's Red Barked Tree, which I enjoyed (especially Please Take). I then backtracked with Chairs Missing and 154, which are both excellent. Just recently got Mind Hive and am looking forward to spinning that one.

Great band - totally agree with the Eno/Buzzcocks comparison.


Sal Nunziato said...

Just listened to all of "Change Becomes Us." Whoa! Thanks for that tip. Amazing.

jonder said...

The Vinyl Villain blog has a long-running series of "Imaginary Compilation Albums". In 2017, a devoted Wire fan picked ten tracks from "21st Century Wire":

The song "One Of Us" (from the 2008 album Object 47) is a flawless Colin Newman song, as is "Ahead" (from 1987's The Ideal Copy).

Randy (above) may be aware that there is an entire album of "Outdoor Miner" covers called A Houseguest's Wish.

Mr. Baez said...

Really good. Thanks, Sal for alerting us to this new Wire album. Really appreciate it.

A walk in the woods said...

Thanks for sharing - this one hadn't hit my radar.

Chris Collins said...

I had no idea this was out! thanks!!