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  1.  
    Very interesting about Page Hamilton, and similar to the story of Robert Poss (another Band of Susans member), who once almost joined PiL, but was disinvited at the last minute. Wire sounds so aggressive and rhythm-driven on this tour, it's exciting to imagine what Page Hamilton would have brought to their live sound -- no disrespect to Margaret.

    I too have wondered about how Bruce's absence has changed the current sound of Wire. When you click on Bruce's page under the "Us" section of this website, the "Selected Works" that he comments on are some of Wire's most experimental and improvisatory ventures -- "Crazy about Love", "Drill", and the Document and Eyewitness performance; and he favors the terms "abstract" and "minimal" in describing them.
  2.  
    Never knew Poss almost joined PiL - was that the time when the late Magazine guitarist joined Lydon's ever diminishing circus?

    EG Lewis, He Said of Gilbert departure:
    "You'd have to ask Bruce."

    I guess EG refused to clear up pope mystery!
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeOct 28th 2008)
     
    "Wire sounds so aggressive and rhythm-driven on this tour, it's exciting to imagine what Page Hamilton would have brought to their live sound -- no disrespect to Margaret."

    maybe, but to my ears at 2 shows, it was Margaret who played the more aggressive, cranked up guitar parts. This may have been what the rest of the band suggested she do, but presumably they would have said the same thing to Page Hamilton.

    I'm not sure, but I feel like Bruce's reputation as the "experimental," "improvisatory," "abstract," and "minimal" one is somewhat mythical at this point.
    • CommentAuthoradj says...
    • (CommentTimeOct 28th 2008 edited)
     
    "I too have wondered about how Bruce's absence has changed the current sound of Wire."

    I think it's quite self-evident. There's a different mode of playing involved, anyone that's played in a band will
    be able to spot it, from watching videos available if you've not seen the live performances, or listening to any
    of the live recordings. Bruce and Margaret play off different people for cues to my ears. Bruce's playing is usually
    orientated sideways as opposed to forward facing.

    "I'm not sure, but I feel like Bruce's reputation as the "experimental," "improvisatory," "abstract," and "minimal" one is somewhat mythical at this point."

    Mythical? Have you heard Bruce's solo recordings?
  3.  
    I think most of Wire's members have different bents at various points in time. Bear in mind that while Bruce likes his noise and experimentation, he was also partly responsible for Trash/Treasure, one of Wire's more recent pop gems.
    • CommentAuthoradj says...
    • (CommentTimeOct 28th 2008 edited)
     
    Very true Craig, this is what makes all the work so enduring... The WMO Pre-He release by Lewis for example is one of the
    harshest and most low-fi releases in the whole extended catalogue of wire related recordings but what came out of those demos in the end is perfect pop !
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeOct 29th 2008)
     
    "I think it's quite self-evident. There's a different mode of playing involved, anyone that's played in a band will be able to spot it"

    oh please, don't you think all the posters here have played in bands? For all that, can Bruce's guitar playing (if it's ok for me to call it something so mundane) be described by something less vague than "sideways rather than forward facing in orientation"? I think we're actually still stuck at the "gee, I guess the guitar parts weren't split the way we had come to think they were" point.

    I'm not crazy about Object 47, but I'm not pining for the "experimental and improvisatory" days and doubt that with Bruce, it would necessarily have been in that style. Wasn't Graham Lewis also part of that celebrated "axis," and there he is playing "The 15th" at every show.

    "Have you heard Bruce's solo recordings?"

    not many.
  4.  
    "gee, I guess the guitar parts weren't split the way we had come to think they were"

    And that's the point. It turns out that a large portion of what everyone assumed Bruce was playing all these years was actually played by Colin. Ultimately, Wire was always a melting point, and, typically, has been driven by not the entire band (Pink Flag is largely Colin/Graham, a lot of early Mute stuff is Bruce/Graham, R&B 1 and 2 are Colin/Bruce, and O47 is back to Colin/Graham). Although it's a shame Bruce quit, I think it was more overt when Rob left, since strong rhythm underpins almost all great Wire stuff, and without him, the rhythms often went awry.
  5.  
    You May Be Called & Time Was are great POP SONGS penned by BC Gilbert.
  6.  
    As for Bruce solo stuff, a good place to start (for the tentative) is This Way To The Shivering Man, followed by Music For Fruit, then Insiding. Kind of Dome-ish but kind of not - much of it was written for dance or performance pieces - these three are a bit more accessible (this is subjective, mind you) than the later In Esse, Ab Ovo, or Ordier. Be on the lookout for "Epitaph for Henran Brenclar" featuring Graham on vocals, which could have made it onto Ideal or Bell... or at the very least been a good b-side. The more adventurous will find plenty to love about the later records, but Kidney Bingos they ain't.

    Ordier, in its beautiful wood box, is a must-have simply because it is such a wonderful object.
  7.  
    "can Bruce's guitar playing (if it's ok for me to call it something so mundane) be described by something less vague than "sideways rather than forward facing in orientation"?

    It's a joke, BCG usually played facing sideways, not facing the audience, it's a big difference (cough).
  8.  
    I'd prefer to stand sideways-on. Very old guitar with single coil pickups + dodgy North American electrical wiring = stand frontways or you'll hum like fuck.
  9.  
    I highly recommend Wire On The Box for gaining a greater understanding of Bruce's role in the actual musicianship, if that is what you are after. The songwriting credits (explained more thoroughly on the latest Pink Flag label re-releases) give a glimpse into what-came-from-where, and Everybody Loves A History helps to clear up some of the Mk. II albums and where the ideas came from as the credits on those records are a bit more vague.

    I hesitate to say this, but just as at the core you can not definitively divide Lennon and McCartney into "the rocker" and "the softy" (Julia in particular disrupts that notion for Lennon, Helter Skelter for McCartney), it is difficult to also pigeonhole Bruce as the experimental, abstract weirdo (see Used To).

    For the guitar parts, it's also not quite as easy as "lead guitar", "rhythm guitar" - the roles seem to be quite interchangeable. Bruce seems to have done a lot of the guitar textures on the early records despite having the latter title on some credits, and indeed most of the articles announcing Margaret's arrival mention her replacing Bruce on rhythm guitar - often misleading as far as individual contributions go.
  10.  
    Nice summary 7jlong, I'd agree with you on viewing the DVD for those who do want such things clarified,
    it's all there to see and hear, and I think you're right on the "lead" and "rhythm" aspect, not forgetting
    the fact that Lewis's bass plays an up front, melodic and lead role quite often too.

    Now how are we going to solve Margaret's hum problems so she can stand sideways-on?
  11.  
    Dome would likely have just incorporated it into the compositions! ha! Ampnoise, anyone?
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeOct 29th 2008)
     
    I'm not tentative about Bruce's solo stuff... just not that interested? Nice to know he wrote "Used To" though, if that's what you're implying--that's one of my favorites.

    and I have On the Box and wouldn't say it clarifies who plays what on the studio tracks all that much, since the live versions are so much more spare, at least the 154 tunes. Anyway, I don't think I'd ever watch with a mind toward establishing that Bruce is or is not (or was?) some Avant God of Guitar Noise, the connoisseurs' contributor. I think Wire has always had much more of a band concept than that. Which is probably one of the main reasons their music is still relevant (and I dare say enjoyable).
  12.  
    The whole concept of "lead" and "rhythm" guitar is so irrelevant when applied to just about any non-retro, post-punk band. Might be OK if describing the relative roles of, say, Jeff Beck and Chris Dreja in the Yardbirds, but Wire's 'beat combo' incarnation was a touch ironic...

    Mark
  13.  
    Heh! Nope, I don't look towards the live shows or On The Box to try to reveal myself who The Most Important/Experimental/Boundary-Pushing Member Of Wire is/was, but as has been a part of this discussion, it is interesting to me (and I'm not a musician) to see how the different parts add up to the larger picture. Some are into that. Some aren't. It is just as interesting to me that I have no idea who added what bits to the Mk. II records that are more keyboard-heavy, but if I'm given a window into the creative process you'd best believe I'll take a look through to see what's going on. Just my nature; I like knowing how things - be it art, music, machines, people's minds, etc. - are put together.

    But having more or less believed the "rhythm guitar" title going into On The Box, it was interesting to see what was actually going on with tracks like A Question Of Degree or Map Ref. - which reaffirms that the contributions came from everyone in whatever form best suited the song at hand and, as mentioned, are not easily broken down into tidy roles/titles.
  14.  
    Margaret does THE HUM?

    So do KILLING JOKE!
    HA!
  15.  
    So Margaret has THE HUM?

    Is she using HUMbuckers?
    Page Hamilton sang about them in some Helmet song.

    Killing Joke also has THE HUM!

    "Bow the Head or GRIP the SABRE
    Vernichten REGENERATE
    Bright Eyed young inherit All
    Treading down upon the Fallen
    They were drawn towards THE HUM
    Plenty more where they come from"

    Helmet covered Killing Joke twice, but not THE HUM!

    When we have cured THE HUM for Margaret the Guitarist,
    We must in our benign beneviolance
    Help another Margaret, Mme HodgePodge
    Ministeress for Antisocial Insecurity.
    She has an issue with the knife crime epidemic
    And I hereby propose a simple solution:
    Teach the kids to use spoons instead!

    You're a fifty year old man
    What ya gonna do about it?