Wire - Pink Flag - Review
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critics' view

Arriving in December ’77 was the debut set from the London quartet consisting of Colin Newman (23, vocals, guitar); Graham Lewis (24, bass, vocals); Bruce Gilbert (31, guitar) and the brilliantly named Robert Gotobed (26, drums). It’s punk Jim, but not as we know it. If they were inspired by the Ramones, it was only that short-sharp blasts were all a song needs – these 21 songs were all over in 35 minutes. This was a rock lobotomy. Looking back in time, there seems to be no template for Wire’s sound. It’s a ground-zero moment for the genre that would be termed hardcore.

Orthodox song structures were conspicuous by their sparsity – they seemed happy to simply revel in the glory of a particular riff, or would stop when they had said all they wanted to say in the lyrics. The second track, “Field Day For The Sundays” gets it all over and done with in just 28 seconds, blasting celebrity culture and the paparazzi in one fell swoop: “I want to be a field day for the Sundays so they can fuck up my life, embarrass my wife, and leave a bad taste”. In the very next track, who can resist imitating Newman’s nonchalant “thee impossy bowl” lyric in “Three Girl Rhumba”? And who can resist sneering whilst air guitaring that simplistic but damned catchy riff? In January ‘77, who could have foreseen that words like “asunder” would be gracing the punk vocabulary by the end of the year? As smart as eggs. Well played Wire.

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