...Even at their worst, Wire still sound thrillingly modern.
Nick Reynolds 2007
The punk credo of 1977 was “anyone can do it”. But it helps if you’ve got brains. It helps if you have a drummer who can actually play. It helps if you’ve practiced a lot.
When Wire stepped onto the stage of the Roxy club in London on April 1st 1977 they had all of this and more. This historic recording captures both that set when they were bottom of the bill and a near identical one from the following night.
Loads of English bands in late ’76 heard the first Ramones debut album, said “I can do that!” and copied it. But Wire are already moving away from the charming but unoriginal punk templates of “Just Don’t Care”, “Mary Is A Dyke” and a silly sprint through JJ Cale’s “After Midnight”. Songs like “Lowdown”, “Strange”, “Three Girl Rhumba” and “12XU” are defiantly original. Dispensing with standard song structures, the music is bent out of shape to fit the words, the mood brutal.
It also helps if you have the services of a sympathetic producer. Mike Thorn’s crisp, clear 24 track live mixes remind you how important he was to the sound and texture of Wire’s classic first three albums.
The other CD in this set is a recording of an ill-starred visit to CBGBs in New York the following year. Wire are jetlagged and sloppy. They produce incoherent versions of Pink Flag material and half decent attempts at “Practice Makes Perfect” and the epic “Mercy”.
But there’s a strange moment at the very end. A DJ talks over an anonymous piece of American “rawk” music. The music sounds pre-historic, something recorded thousands of years ago. By contrast, even thirty years after the event and even at their worst, Wire still sound thrillingly modern.