Wire Vinyl, CD & tapes by Wire at Norman Records
When we are talking about influential bands, art rockers Wire often come top of the heap. They influenced...um..pretty much everything of interest that has come since, most notably Guided By Voices, R.E.M., Minor Threat, Blur and the Cure. Literally every band has at one stage covered their classic-in-miniature 'Outdoor Miner' and they were a surprisingly huge influence on American hardcore punk.
They have existed in three separate batches. There’s the 1970s Wire of Pink Flag and Chairs Missing. This was a raw and unconventional punk/post punk band which blended taut, angular guitars with arty lyrics and latterly proto-goth synths. Their three albums Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 are now regarded as classics of the era but after a typically eccentric live album Document and Eyewitness in 1981, the band went on hiatus while the members concentrated on solo projects. They returned in 1987 with The Ideal Copy which followed on fairly neatly from where they left off but now it seemed that Wire were being influenced by the bands they had themselves influenced. This record and the more refined follow up A Bell is a Cup were more in a polished indie-pop vein with sequencers and synths and a lot less of the arty experimentalism that marked their first period. Such was the reliance on drum machines and loops that drummer Robert Gotobed quit and for two albums the band released under the name Wir.
There was then another twelve year break before the band (with Gotobed, now Grey, back on board) returned with Send in 2003. After co-founder and guitarist Bruce Gilbert quit in the early 2000s, the band then seemed to become more prolific releasing six further studio albums from 2008 onwards. Their sound is now something of an amalgam of all their various periods of activity and is made up of melodic guitar lines, hushed soft focus vocals and unusual slightly alien sounding, sometimes hesitant songwriting. They still retain their experimental bent and continue to write albums in unusual ways. 2013’s Change Becomes Us for example consisted of songs based around sketches of music they had started in 1978/79. Despite such retro-appearing projects, Wire are steadfastly non-nostalgic - pushing forward each year with new songs and new ways of working. Though their best and most original work might have been at the beginning of their career, they are one of the few surviving bands of their era who still release interesting and forward-thinking work. They are a restless spirit and long may they continue.