Originally planned as Wire's fourth proper album, their former record company refused to release "A-Z" and dropped the band, so Colin decided to put it out under his name and settled down at Beggars Banquet, one of U.K.'s premier independent labels of the late-'70s/early-'80s. With band members Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis out of the picture -- they were working on their 'Dome' project and explored the leading edge of noise -- "A-Z" is less caustic and arty than the preceding "154" and relies more on conventional songcraft than on sonic extravaganzas. Surprisingly, the guitars rarely sound like rock guitars, and Mike Thorne's gentle, pointed electronics and effects add much to the album's drive. Colin remained a gifted songwriter with tastes in progressive rock, power pop, new wave, and even neo-classical ("Alone on piano"), and there are a couple of tracks here which match the best on Wire's classics "Pink flag" and "Chairs missing". The bouncy "&jury", the moody "Alone", as well as "Inventory" and "Don't bring.." are among the highlights. "Not me" was later covered by 4AD band This Mortal Coil for the album "It'll end in tears", and the instrumental "B" is more eccentric than any Wire song. There are a few tracks I always have to skip because Colin's singing is overdone and pathetic at times, distracting from the music's quality. But on the strength of all these great songs here, "A-Z" is absolutely worthwhile and stands out as Colin's most satisfying solo album.