18 November 2011

Something 4 The Weekend # 227

Wire: Red Barked Tree: "Please Take" [mp3]

Fucking Wire, man.

34 years ago, December of 1977, these guys released their first album, Pink Flag, which was pretty much Post-Punk before Punk had even happened, you know? Which leads me to wonder if this thing we call Post-Punk is actually Post-Anything? In other words, Pink Flag was a true sideways maneuver, babycakes, and in the end Post-Punk has as much to do with Punk as it does with Prog or Disco or KISS.

34 years later, and dammit if Wire didn't possibly make my very favorite Wire album with Red Barked Tree, and Wire has made quite a few very good Wire albums over the years that I know and love quite well, with three or four different Wire configurations making eight or nine different kinds of music, almost all of it called Post-Punk by whoever the fuck it is that decides these things. Robert Christgau? Some dude in a cube at Spotify? Anyways...Wire!

The music Wire is making on this album sounds like the dark side of Spoon to me, and I believe that's saying something because I believe we're all in agreement that Spoon is damn outstanding themselves, and I bet if you asked Britt Daniel, he'd tell you that Wire are a pretty important influence on his own band's sound. It's a lean, mostly clean sound, with a thick, propulsive bass, and a reliance on repetition, melodies and song structures that aren't quite as simple (or repetitive) as they might first appear, creating subtle tensions that are always lurking beneath and around the beats. Beats for head nodding, finger tapping, body swaying, or driving at slightly inappropriate speeds. And damn good sex music.

Fucking Wire and Spoon, man.

And sometimes, as with this song, the tension is lyrical, because beyond the bright guitars and pulsing bass is a truly great kiss-off song (well, a fuck-you song, really), crooned in a halting way that reveals the layers of betrayal and anger slowly. It's a song that boils, boy.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and type to you that I was hip to Wire from their start, because I wasn't. I was aware of them because I read music rags even in my youth, but it wasn't until REM covered "Strange" on 1987's Document album that I decided to actually and finally check out Wire. I started with Pink Flag because their "Strange" was tucked away in the middle of side two (yeah, still buying vinyl in 1987), and I must admit, I wasn't immediately smitten. I liked Wire, but didn't love them. I like them enough to keep following them, however (I've got A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck on cassette to prove it), and eventually I got older and wiser. Nowadays, it's as much a matter of respect as anything else. 34 years of interesting music from a band that is always exploring, evolving and refining their sound, and dammit if the stuff they've been doing the last five years isn't as good as what they were doing their first five years. Wire sounding exactly the same and nothing like Wire.

Fucking REM, man.

Hotcha! Hank

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