Wire: Brit punk, fast, smart and loud

This week, I dip into the lost Boombox archives again, to revisit an exciting punk disk that invites you to play it loud.

Wire: Pink Flag

One big music regret I have is that I didn’t get into punk music when it was first happening in the late 70s/early 80s. Mainstream rock was pretty uniformly bland and awful then, so I mostly retreated into blues, jazz and classical.

I finally found punk largely thanks to my daughters, taking them to all ages rock shows at places like Metro and the greatly missed Fireside Bowl—and once even on a road trip to St. Louis to be among the maybe 30 or so people who turned out to see the Chainsaw Kittens—for the record, NOT a punk band—on a frigid winter night in an unheated storefront venue. The girls eventually mostly moved on to other music, including what I like to think of as whiney singer/songwriters—Rufus Wainwright, Conor Oberst and the like.

I, however, remained faithful to bands who know three power chords and the F word and whose songs all come in at two or three minutes or less. Local college station WNUR has a show from midnight to 2am Sundays that pretty much sums up what I’m looking for these days when I’m listening to rock music: Fast ‘n’ Loud.

Wire delivers just that, with Pink Flag. The album, originally released in 1977, has 22 songs on it and clocks in at a hair under 38 minutes. The shortest song is a 28-second gem called Field Day for the Sundays. Remarkably, the band had only played 15 gigs when they went into the studio to produce this seminal album.

Wire is an old school punk band and, even better, as far as I’m concerned, a Brit punk band. Plenty of speed and low-fi distortion, but also more musicianship and variety than some punk bands can muster. A great, high-energy listen, even if you think you don’t like punk. And as one reviewer put it so well, “Short, odd, angular, sarcastic songs… remind the listener that punk rock can be simultaneously smart, detached, and visceral.”


4 Responses to “Wire: Brit punk, fast, smart and loud”

  1. Nate Says:

    Wire’s good, but the word “angular” only brings one band to mind for me: Mission of Burma. So, soooo great.

  2. Terry B Says:

    Nate—Thanks for stopping by! I’ve not heard enough of Mission of Burma to comment intelligently, but now you’ve got me interested.

  3. Nate Says:

    There’s a great documentary about MOB’s reunion tour (but it really covers their entire career) called “Not a Photograph” – Netflix has it and it’s on cable (Sundance or IFC?) every now and then. Really worth watching. They’ve put out a couple of different retrospective discs that can catch someone up on the basics.

  4. Terry B Says:

    Thanks, Nate! Someone else just recommended them to me too–and also referenced Wire. I’ll definitely check them out.

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