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Pink Flag/154/Chairs Missing Box set

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Product details

  • Audio CD (4 Sept. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B00004W3LB
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 589,931 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Reuters
2. Field Day For The Sundays
3. Three Girl Rhumba
4. Ex Lion Tamer
5. Lowdown
6. Start To Move
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Practice Makes Perfect
2. French Film Blurred
3. Another The Letter
4. Men 2nd
5. Marooned
6. Sand In My Joints
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. I Should Have Known Better
2. Two People In A Room
3. The 15th
4. The Other Window
5. Single K.O.
6. A Touching Display
See all 18 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Wayne Olsen on 31 Oct. 2000
Format: Audio CD
Influential, seminal, progressive. Get all the cliche words out of the way first. 1977's Pink Flag stripped down rock and roll to its bare skeleton- 21 songs in 40 minutes. Each song sticks in the brain and this album stands up better than any punk-rock album of that era. 21 memorable songs in 40 minutes?????? The following year's Chairs Missing takes a potentially horrifying idea like "Progressive punk Rock" and turns into something breathtaking. Still plenty of energy, but the tempi are more subdued, the instrumentation more eclectic. 1979's 154 takes the experimentalism even further. Songs such as "A Touching Display" and "A Mutual Friend" reveal a melancholy streak. It would be their last album for almost a decade. These records changed my life. They obviously changed a lot of other people's: REM, Radiohead, even U2 all sound suspiciously Wire-ish at times. Favorite songs: Mannequin, 12XU, Strange, Reuters (from pink Flag) Practice Makes Perfect, Marooned, Sand in my Joints, Mercy and Outdoor Miner (from Chairs Missing) The 15th, Map reference, A Mutual friend (from 154)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 9 Jan. 2004
Format: Audio CD
Wire remain one of the key acts of the post-punk-era, ranking alongside peers such as Joy Division, Magazine & Pere Ubu. Their influence is large- having been covered by such acts as Big Black (Heartbeat), Minor Threat (12XU)& REM (Strange). Minor acts have also covered them- Flying Saucer Attack, Lush, & that Visage-tribute band from New York (see Futurism). Further, they've been quoted in other people's records- Mudhoney's When Tomorrow Hits alludes to Lowdown, Blur's Girls & Boys alludes to I am the Fly and Elastica's career was indebted to these early records (just a pity they had to retitle 3 Girl Rhumba as Connection...). The later versions of Wire/Wir are equally good, but this early collection of their years on Harvest (home to Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers & Robert Wyatt)shows one of the most interesting punk-bands evolving on each release.
Pink Flag (1977)sounds like Can playing The Ramones- songs like It's So Obvious, Three Girl Rhumba, Straight Line & 12XU that fly on by- why should the songs hang around any longer than they needed to? The irony of tight post-punk delivered on a label associated with prog is evident- there are darker tracks, ones that are more epic- such as Reuters and Strange- the former is as bleak as Joy Division (who were still Warsaw at the time this came out); while the latter is as great art-pop as anything by Devo, Talking Heads or XTC in the era. Lowdown remains my favourite track, bleak-angst that sounds epic, yet just breaks the two-minute barrier. Wire made punk music interesting, which is why Sex Pistols and early Clash sound redundant already, stuck in their Eddie Berry riff-isms. As Colin Newman recently said in Mojo "the world didn't need another Sex Pistols, it needed the next thing & we were it!
Read more ›
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jan. 2001
Format: Audio CD
Each of the albums contains at least one masterpiece that few 'rock' groups could ever hope to equal. Listen to "Field day for the Sundays" from "Pink flag", "French film blurred" from "Chairs missing" & "The 15th" from "154". Thereafter, simply look for another masterpiece in each of these albums!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Spellbinding Band 7 May 2001
By daibhidh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love Wire, and to have their first three (best) albums in one tidy package is a great bonus for folks who haven't heard them before. The range of musical styles they covered in this period (1977-79) is astounding, and STILL sounds cutting edge, all these years later.
The debut "Pink Flag" took punk minimalism to the nth degree, way better than anybody else, and remains a definitive, awe-inspiring album. Each song is short, sweet, and to the point -- but what's neat is that there is so much in them that they leave you breathless, despite being so short. My personal favorite tunes "12 X U", "Pink Flag", and "Lowdown" all have lovely, gritty monochord riffs (they claimed their lack of know-how at the time led to this style of play; I love it!) This disc also contains a few bonus tracks at the end (as do all of the CDs in this set).
The follow-up "Chairs Missing" (mislabeled in the Amazon listing as "Disc 3") is very different from the debut, with a more keyboard-based sound, and longer songs, and less punky cheekiness and more calculated, passive-aggressive musical malice. I love both cuts of "Outdoor Miner" (one is a bonus; a light and lovely tune), "Heartbeat" and the epic "Mercy" (which builds into a titanic wall of sound). There is a lot of tasty ear candy on this CD, in terms of great sounds, so wear it with headphones and enjoy the nifty mixes.
The third album, "154" is even more different from the other two, much more produced, still broodier, with almost a science fiction feel to it. My personal favorites are "the 15th" (a magnificent alternapop tune that I've listened to over and over again), "A Touching Display" (longer still, creating a dense, threatening soundscape) "40 Versions" (cool, throbbing beat that makes me think of the old video game, "Berserk") and "Song I" (a perky Europop instrumental, a rhythm-soaked nod from the drummer, Robert Gotobed). The other bonus tracks on this CD are really creepy, sort of ambient music sound, very machine-driven.
There is so much good stuff on these albums I can't do justice to it in this review. You are well-advised to pick this collection up; you will not regret it. It seems Wire got lost in the 1977 punk shuffle (as people went with more accessible bands), but perhaps that's because they were so hard to pigeonhole, soundwise, traversing from pure punk minimalism to heavily-produced alterna-artpop in a mere three albums. But they still mesmerize, impress, and amaze. Viva Wire!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
All of the Music from Wire's Most Creative Period. 23 Dec. 2000
By Alan Koslowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Much like The Velvet Underground before them, few people ever heard Wire, but (to paraphrase what Brain Eno once said about the Velvets) virtually everyone who did went on to make a signficant musical contribution. This collection of Wire's first three albums is their best, most influential music.
Wire was initially classified as "punk rock" by default because of their minimalist sound and song structure. Superficially, Wire's first album, Pink Flag (1977) sounds punk-ish. Wire tear through 22 songs in about 37 minutes. Not only are the songs brief, but Wire employs a very small number of musical tools (they were just learning to play their instruments). The similarities to Punk end here. Most punk bands intended to strip excess and pretense out of music and bring rock back to it's more simplistic roots. Though Wire also aimed for minimalism, they treated music as an art experiment. Even their song titles ("Field Day for the Sundays", "Three Girl Rhumba", "Mannequin") sound like minimalist paintings. With this approach, Wire a create pure, concentrated sound. Colin Newman's vocals and songwriting fit perfectly. Though he isn't always the most comprehensible or personal singer/songwriter, Newman writes clever, often comical lyrics, delivered with a wry wit. "Pink Flag" is a compelling listen from start to finish. Even the worst song, the slight, somewhat generic "Mr. Suit", is entertaining.
Wire expand their sound on the subsequent release, Chairs Missing (1978). Sonically their approach is actually fairly similar to Pink Flag, but now Wire's palate has more color. A number of songs feature keyboards and other sonic effects courtesy of producer Mike Thorne. In this expanded soundscape, Wire stretch out and write longer, more mannered and detailed songs. More often than not, this works brilliantly. The lyrics and music are darker and even more obtuse, but Wire seldom slips into arty pretense. "I Am The Fly" is arguably the most clever, funniest song Wire ever produced. Newman sings in the first person(?), taking the perspective of a fly. About half way into the song, a treated guitar actually evokes the sound of a fly to hilarious effect. Occasionally, Wire do slip into redunancy ("Mercy" is about a minute too long) and self-indulgence ("Heartbeat" seems like filler), but these are infrequent exceptions on what is usually a superb album.
At their best, Wire synthesize the elements of Pink Flag and Chairs Missing on 154 (1979). 154 features a much more dense, layered production than it's predecessors. The best songs on 154 are usually succinct as on "Pink Flag", but more lucid and elaborately produced. "The 15th" features an infectious melody and ambiguous, yet memorable lyrics. "On Returning" combines the concise songwriting of Pink Flag with the sonic effects of Chairs Missing, but the production is cleaner. "Map Ref. 41N, 93W" is gorgeous, featuring Wire's most beautiful melodies. Wire occassionaly slip into arty pretense. "The Other Window" has an egregiously overblown chorus that would make Keith Emerson cringe. The general tone of 154 is sombre and mostly humorless, making it a difficult album (Wire wasn't an easy band to begin with). The songwriting isn't consistently compelling, featuring only sparse glimpses of Newman's comical wit that was so copious on Pink Flag and Chairs Missing. Though only one or two songs are terrible, much of the songwriting is mediocre, rendering many songs unmemorable. Despite it's problems, 154 does contain several great moments and is an interesting listen, especially in context of Wire's evolution.
After 154, Wire temporarily disbanded, citing a dearth of creative ideas. After several miscellaneous projects, the band members reunited in 1987, disbanding again in 1991. During this period, Wire focused almost exclusively on the sonic aspect of music, experimenting with electronics. Unfortunately, Wire focused so much on sound that they're songwriting suffered. Though Wire did create some interesting sounds, the absence of interesting songs renders most of the music forgettable. Though many 1990s techno artists were clearly influenced by these albums (Manscape, The First Letter, etc.), they're only of interest to die-hard Wire fans.
What's is remarkable about Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154 is how well these albums have aged. While many "punk" artists sound somewhat anachronistic today (The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Damned, etc.), Wire's first three albums still sound vital and invigorating (especially Pink Flag). Perhaps this is because Wire treated music an art experiment performed in a punk context (initially). Consequently, at their best, Wire was just as enjoyable as other punk artists, but with their cerebral approach, Wire created music that is more artistically viable and intelligent than most of their counterparts. Wire has been cited as a major influence by REM, Husker Du, The Cure, The Minutemen, Elastic (who were sued for plagiarizing Wire), and numerous hardcore acts, to name just a few. This collection contains all of Wire's music anyone but the most avid fan needs to hear.
Note: Wire very infrequently re-group to perform live shows. They went on a succinct tour of the U.S. this year (2000) and reportedly recorded new material in Chicago.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"The jokers in the deck..." 25 Jan. 2008
By Thomas Plotkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
...Critic Jon Savage memorably termed this band in his exhaustive history of the UK '70's punk rock moment, England's Dreaming. Wire were the jokers in the punk rock deck because despite their caustic vocals, tiny 3-chord songs, nervous rhythms, and abrasive guitar tone, they were not punks at all, but mordant art students who sought to subvert musical expectations by burying a dozen small surprises within every fragmentary anthem. For Wire, 3-chord punk songs were a found object to tinker with, turn inside out, parody, and subvert from within. While their contemporaries The Sex Pistols proclaimed "Anarchy in the UK" and the Clash vowed to bring down a "White Riot," Wire's brand of overturning the welfare state status quo was quieter, funnier, and more unsettling:
"I am the fly in the oinment/I can spread more disease than the fleas which nibble away at your window display/Yes I am the fly in the ointment/I'll shake you down to say please as you accept the next dose of disease..."

This trilogy of masterpieces, recorded from '77-'79, is right up there with Velvet Underground and Nico, the Beatles' Revolver, and Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn as examples of throwing out all the rules of song-writing, production, etc. and re-building the pop music model from scratch.

First album "Pink Flag," their masterpiece, is a cohesive suite of 21 2-minute minimalist punk songs that, in lead singer Colin Newman's words, "swerved" rather than rocked. After a first listen, it becomes apparent that you've just heard one long song, not 22. Wire took the template of 3-chord guitar/bass/drums punk and made it strange and unsettling, wringing every structural peculiarity imaginable from the seemingly rigid format -- and once this album takes root in your head, damned if it doesn't stay in your head for weeks. Lyric subject-matter includes media inundation and all manner of veiled sexual paranoia.

Second album "Chairs Missing" stretches out from the punk format (it's here that they earned their nickname "Punk Floyd".) Less frenetic, longer songs with more eccentric structures, off-kilter rhythms,keyboards, woodwinds, and peculiar guitar effects leading them to electronica. A little reminiscent of Eno's "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy." And the song "Outdoor Miner" is the most gorgeous love song to a beetle ever written.

Third album "154" runs with the Eno-esque electronica latent in "Chairs Missing." Treated instruments, mechanical beats, song lengths stretching out into soundscapes, ominous spoken word fragments,industrial clatter, but underneath the noises their pop-sense is unerring and their twisted, catchy song structures stay lodged in the brain long after the album is over. Choice cut: "Map Ref. 41 degrees latitude North, 93 degrees longitude west," the loveliest ode to a field in Iowa as seen from the air ever written, and Wire's most ecstatic moment on record.

Wire broke up and re-formed many times after these three records, but never touched the achievements of this trilogy again. [though their last reunion at the beginning of this decade, the album "Send" roars like Motorhead, absolutely ferocious and atypically crude.] This box set brings together those 3 albums and rare, stray singles from the era; it is a unique, highly influential melding of UK art-rock and punk,and while "Pink Flag" may tower over the other 2, all three are essential listening. Kafka and Beckett form a garage band...
DISCOGRAPHICAL WARNING: there are multiple incarnations of these three albums; this box and the separate early '90's reissues are the only versions with the essential 45's/rarities "Options R," "Dot-Dash," and "Former Airline," as well as the less essential 4-song instrumental LP initially attached to 154. The recent "Digitally Remastered" versions lack these songs, and are to be avoided -- those named songs are key Wire tunes, and outside of 7-inch vinyl that costs in the three figures on Ebay, this is the only way you can get 'em. Seek out this box or the '90's separate reissues instead of the shiny new parsimonious versions.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
absolutely amazing from start to finish 18 April 2002
By B. Allen-Trick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
i don't believe for a lover of post-punk music that there is a better box set out there. if you're hesitant and are new to wire, don't be, jump in and buy this box set. all of the essential early wire material is here, as well as a decent assortment of b-sides and alternate takes.
the debate still rages, which is the best album.
personally i think Pink Flag and Chairs Missing are tied for best but 154 is still very solid. what's so amazing is that although their sound changed dramatically throughout the 3 albums their approach did not.
A Question of Degree, Outdoor Miner, 3 Girl Rhumba, Reuters, I Am The Fly, Heartbeat, 12XU, Field Day for the Sundays-none of these songs i can live without in my collection and you shouldn't have to either.
this box set is an artifact and better than any other album or collection from that period chronicles the transformation from punk to post-punk and goth and makes those connections implicit.
in short, if you don't buy this will you respect yourself tomorrow?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I Listened, Mouth Agape 20 Nov. 2001
By John Bullabaugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Wire was a blassed anomaly in the punk world, denying all attempts to categorize them as anything but brilliant. "Artpunk"? nah... "Progpunk"? nope... See, nothing works. Amazing & very influential stuff. REM & the Minutemen both have publicly praised the genre-bending work of Wire.
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