You, me, the music, and me.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Beggars Banquet XBEG 20 (1980)

One of the most prominent and influential bands of the first wave of British punk, Wire quickly grew bored with the sounds they were making and set out to discover new textures by not only adding synthesizers to their sound but trying to make their guitars sound like synths through the use of repetitive, minimalist melodies. By doing this, they unwittingly became one of the first "new wave" bands, though their music remained just a little too complex and dense to crack the top 40.

Originally intended as the follow-up to their third LP 154, the material on A-Z became Wire frontman Colin Newman's solo debut after they broke up. Sonically and lyrically, the album picks right up where the band left off in 1979 (thanks in part to the presence of Wire drummer Robert Gotobed); "I've Waited Ages" kicks off the record with the same chattering sound effects and ploddingly propulsive rhythm that had come to be associated with the group by the time of their (temporary) disbanding.

Despite the typically obtuse lyrics and dark, foreboding textures, A-Z is generally an upbeat album, at least on the surface; even melancholy songs like "Seconds to Last" and "Alone" are lightened by a soaring synth solo here or a chugging guitar riff there. Newman's break from his bandmates seemed to have recharged his creative batteries, as even the most turgid songs here sound more energetic and uplifting than those on 154.

Wire reformed in 1985 and have continued to record and tour to the present day; Newman has released several more albums on his own (as have other members of the group), but fans of Wire's early material should definitely start with A-Z.


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