on 13 March 2011
Bloody Hell, this is good. If, like me, you lost touch with wire after their first 3 brilliant albums, then hesitate not, buy this album now cos' it stands along those albums like it's 1980 all over again. I cannot vouch for the quality of their numerous albums in the intervening years, as for some unknown reason Wire dropped off my radar, but hell they have returned with a vengeance and vigour which belies their advancing years. If it wasn't for their unmistakable style, you would have sworn this album was by some snotty delinquent estuary yoofs, not a bunch of late 50's veterans. If anything the added maturity has actually improved on their 70's output by fleshing the songs to 4mins plus instead of the short 1'30" blast of yesteryear.
This has to be one of the albums of the year, but doubt that it will appear on any awards list. Doesn't mean you can't award yourself a real treat. Put it in the car CD player and risk a speeding ticket, it gives you that kind of adrenalin rush.
on 10 January 2011
Wire - Red Barked Tree (Pinkflag)
I have a history with Wire, dropping in and out at various periods of their long career. I've almost given up trying to explain to the uninitiated what I like so much about them, mainly because those who namedrop them without hearing them seem to be labouring under the illusion they're some sort of unfathomable, unlistenable, art-rock, avant-garde outfit, where nothing really could be further from the truth. Sure, they have their moments, but for the most part, they've spent a 30 year career producing some of the most literate, wiry (obviously), spiked pop music - spawned and informed by '77 punk, but never enslaved by its boundaries.
Their latest album, "Red Barked Tree", continues their idiosyncratic approach to popular music, beginning with "Please Take", with its beautifully sweary hook; radio will undoubtedly run a mile, which is no reason for the rest of us to be squeamish. "Now Was" is energetic and addictive, and the title-track provides an epic - almost folk-rock via Neu - conclusion, though I could have chosen any three tracks - there's nothing here that'll disappoint.
For those of us in the know, "Red Barked Tree" will become an album to treasure. If you're new to them, there's really nothing to be scared about. If you're unfazed by Radiohead or early REM (you'll probably know their version of "Strange" - believe me, Wire's original version is far superior), you'll find much here to enjoy. Take a chance. 9/10.
on 20 April 2011
I must confess to not 'being into' Wire at their heyday, in fact and to my great shame, I'ld never even heard of them until Mark Radcliffe * Stuart Maconie played the 'sanitized' version on Radio 2. They commented on how well the cleaned up version came across so I had to listen to the track as it was intended. I bought the album and WOW, fantastic. Gritty, punchy, little bit sweary - so don't play it to yer granny, some really good sounds going on (some of the bass left me quite emotional, especially on headphones) and I'm left wondering what I missed out in my youth....
If you have any doubt about this, buy the album, it won't break the bank, if you don't like it, sell it on. I doubt I will see many pre-owned copies up for sale.
on 13 January 2011
34 years since the release of the seminal Pink Flag, Wire's 12th studio album is an absolute joy. After the audio blasts of Read and Burn and Object 47, which were good but one dimensional compared to past Wire work, Red Barked Tree possibly has more layers and depth than any Wire album since 154. Sure the noise levels are still high on tracks like Two Minutes, but Wire have always done that superbly (remember 2 People in a Room on 154?), but the big re-discovery here is the unique melodies they could always pull out in their early days. Indeed, tracks like Clay and Please Take would not be out of place on the clssic Chairs Missing album. Something wonderful has happened to ignite their love of song again, and we should all be very grateful. To think that these guys are in their 50's yet can still provide the most interesting, exciting and downright vital album of the past 12 months. One for both old fans and new alike, this is a triumph.
An amalgam of ideas coalescing from the firnament of Chairs Missing and the more glacial Ideal Copy. This is a type of missing link between the two and then again, it transcends them both. Strange, as it is also minus Bruce part of the guitar inspiration.
This has the punk psychedelic touches that made Chairs Missing so outre in the late 70's, the vocal harmonies strung out to unsettling effect. The humanoid dalek tones of metallic self command. It also embodies the punk angst of Pink Flag whilst moving beyond the Hardcore speed rush of Send.
If this was performed by a "new" group they would be splashed across the spreadsheets as the greatest thing since Wire but as this is them, it dips its toe into the pond, then slides and glides with a showboating perfection. So good it will be roundly ignored. Everything transcending the base levels of populist, undermines the shallowness of its roots, derived from its superior application.
It can play quietly, intoning its sensibilities as a low hum, or turned up loud to thrash the room with its new found angst. It is a chameleon album. When I first heard on MP3 it failed to connect in any sense. This is how a Wire album should sound, you have to put a shift in, to unravel its beautiful tonalities and its barbed spikes. This is no different. Whether it is Out Door Miner or I am the Fly each finds itself submerged somewhere within this album, in "Moreover" and "Red Barked Trees."
Grows silently and deadly with its subtle melodies showing musical maturity ages better in oak lined caskets rather than modern plastic throwaway bottles.
on 22 January 2011
Reportedly, a recording engineer for this album made a comment to the band regarding how large the sound was for music featuring only three people. Such is the case. It is amazing only three musicians created this "big" album.
The one drawback this, and material since Send have, is the lack of lead guitarist, Bruce Gilbert, but Wire have made the best of the situation with Colin Newman's "lead" rhythm guitar, unusual for most bands, but not Wire. And he is admirably supported by the traditional rhythm section, bassist Graham Lewis and drummer Robert Grey. It should be noted Lewis has contributed some of his finest Wire material ever to include excellent lyrics.
Wire's previous non-Gilbert album, Object 47, was an excellent outting, but felt more like a Newman/Lewis collaboration than a traditional Wire album. That still made it better than most other albums released that year. On Red Barked Tree however, Wire sounds like Wire again... a very strong release. All of the tracks are quite memorable and become familiar after only a couple of listenings. And the final title track is acoustic... perhaps the first time for Wire and a remarkable high-point.
This is a fine album that can be recommended to long-time followers of this band as well as newcomers as it lives up to Wire's potential... one of the best bands of all time.
on 2 July 2013
Mighty and Beautiful. Subtly Soft and Powerful. It's WIRE.
and it's a Brilliant album.
There's only one heart stoppingly sad moment on the album...
and that's when it ends!
Oh to have one last little beauty slip into aural view.
Which you Can Achieve, by also buying the latest 2013 WIRE Masterpiece "Change Becomes Us"
Also an immaculate album.
I haven't bought WIRE this century. Chairs Missing and 154 have always been Monuments for me.
I bought a few in the 90's.
But now, 30 years on, here's two more colums of Perfect WIRE to keep the roof up.
Damn it's Good to have them still here and sounding so Right.
Lovely production. Classic songs.
Think i'd best go buy some more 21st Century WIRE now...
on 15 February 2011
I can't believe how great this record is. I have been following Wire through all their phases, since the 80s at most times disappointed about the songs and arrangements. I couldn't really connect to the Read & Burn era (though the shows have been great). I remember waiting for A Bell Is A Cup after seeing an incredible live show in Bremen, just to be forced to go back to their 70s stuff. One or two years ago I saw them live (unfortunatly without Bruce), with a set spanning all their incarnations, presented as it would stem from one record. Red Barked Tree is pretty much the that, take the best parts from 3.5 decades of Wire and condense it in a not too calm sound. Love it. Brilliant. Easily kills the recent Gang Of Four and Killing Joke records (if you like these bands too).
Imagine it's 1981 and EMI, despite the disappoinment of failing to break a band of much potential decide to give it one more go.
Imagine it's 1981 and a band, clearly frustrated by their lack of recognition decide not to make strange experimental music but put their efforts into one more album with the grace of their record company.
Instead it's 2011 and thirty years, a slew of strange records, experiments of all kinds - some easy to listen, some utterly baffling and almost wilfully obtuse - decide to make a pretty conventional record. The kind that their fans would instantly recognise as quintessentially Wire. 40 minutes of almost conventionally structured songs that could be written by no one else but the likes of Colin Newman, et al.
It's called "Red Barked Tree" and it's got all the hallmarks of a what a band called Wire might have made if they'd decided on something conventional in 1981. Their shadow cast long over the music of the subsequent 3 decades, this is the reocrd their imitators and disciples would have wanted them to make. They've put eleven wonderful, spiky, sometimes a little more jangly than previously heard, edgily brilliant songs on an album you'd expect from a band called Wire would make, yet you never thought they would.
Wonderfully unmistakeable this is an utter triumph. As good an introduction to their early work as any of their first three albums could be. Many of the things which has made their influence so large are here. For a fan of the band, a must own. For the curious a wonderful entry point to a band who may just be embarking on another golden age.
on 31 January 2011
First I must say that I listened to EVERYTHING this band and its members have done in the past, from WIRE to WIR, from "Mary's a dyke" to "Underwater Experiences",from "behind the curtains" to "turns and strokes", from "154 " to "object 47", passing by Colin Newman's A-Z. Even when I didn't like too much some of the songs, I always admired the inventive skills of Newman , Lewis, Gilbert and Gotobed.But here dislike this album is nearly impossible... After reinventing the post techno punk music with the "Read & burn " series, they're back with a surprisingly sober"classical" album: who would have expected this? surely not me.....there is here a profusion of melodic tracks with lots of acoustic guitars, piano, instruments sounding very strangely like saxophons or viola....Graham Lewis comes back in form as singer on two tracks, with cynical funny lyrics like "please take your knife outta my back and please when you do don't twist it". Believe it or not, there is even a song which is built as " a question of degree".
This is a must and may I give you an hint...order it via their [...] site : you will get an EP with rerecorded classics (sorry Amazon).