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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 20 January 2004
I became a fan of Wire in the late 80s, when they were the kind of band who turned up on programmes like The Chart Show and Rapido. Listening to an REM-record, I came across their names, you can't escape a name like Gotobed (ne Grey), & discovered their then deleted back catalogue through of Pink Flag/Chairs Missing/154 through the compilation On Returning. The 80s take of Wire was actually quite popular in America (supporting Depeche Mode on their 101 tour, for example) & produced many a great pop song: Eardrum Buzz, Kidney Bingos, Ahead...They became even more experimental with technology, producing the strange 'live' album IBTABA (1989) and the sequencer-focused Manscape (1990), the reliance and move into synth-climes jettisoned drummer Robert Gotobed. Wire became Wir...
So, The First Letter probably has more in common with the Wire-offshoots project- from A/Z to Dome to He Said to AC Marias to Newman's Swim label to Lewis singing Erasure...Gilbert, Lewis & Nemwan carried on & produced The First Letter, which seems to have been ignored at the time, but took on wonderful electronic directions, akin to Richard H. Kirk's Sweet Exorcist project. No coincedence that people like Pascal Gabriel, LFO and The Orb remixed single So & Slow It Grows, which is one of the great Wir(e) singles...
The First Letter pretty much carries on where Manscape left off, the same- but different. Different, but the same. It sounds wonderful these days, Wir embracing the technologies & at their most dance-friendly- sad acts like Primal Scream would steal their thunder! Each track is great, though like many a Wire-album, may take a while to sink in- Naked, Whooping & the Like, Ticking Mouth & especially So and Slow It Grows standout for me. The point where Lewis (or Gilbert, or Newman) sings "It's just for now..." does that Proustian thing for me, which probably means I've damaged my cortex with chemicals at some point...
The First Letter stands up well, though should be related more to the Drill-mini-LP and Manscape than anything before or after; Wir would cease soon after and later return as Wire. It's beginning to and back again...
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on 13 January 2004
Wire continued their exploration of electronics with their second LP of the 1990s. Reforming without drummer Robert Gotobed, who had been deprived of work on 'Manscape' and its subsequent tour, they consequently dropped a letter and became Wir (pronounced 'wire'). 'The First Letter' continues the easy science of 'Manscape' and Colin Newman and Graham Lewis's explorations of computer music which found later outlet in Lewis's He Said projects and Newman's swim~ label. There is however little of the pop sensibility that informs Wire's best works here, and while Newman can't resist bending kinky words to a catchy tune as always, 'So and So it Grows' (a joint Lewis/Newman construct, oddly enough) is really the only notable tune in the collection.
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The mid period album when things slid. This album is the weakest in the collection but still rises above the peers. It can only be judged by their own standards which are far higher than anyone else which is why it gets 3 stars.
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on 17 March 2012
wir first letter, an excellent adition to the wire catologue minus robert gotobed this time,if your a wire fan you will simply love it.everything you would expect from this brilliant band
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on 25 July 2013
This takes a few listens to get used to it but is good once you get going with it, worth a look.
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