Not signed in (Sign In)

Vanilla 1.1.4 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

Welcome Guest!
Want to take part in these discussions? If you have an account, sign in now.
If you don't have an account, apply for one now.
    TV comedy writer Graham Duff has written about 154 in the Ephipanies section of the June 2010 edition of The Wire.

    Here it is minus the preamble:

    "It was the cover of 154 that first snared my attention. Like Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, it featured neither the group's name nor the album's title. I stared into a 12" square of pure white, into which a few hard edged coloured shapes had encroached. It was like looking at a small area of a much larger abstract image. The more I gazed at it, the cooler it seemed. It gave absolutely nothing away. I turned the cover over. The same shapes in a different arrangement. Finally, I thought to check the spine: Wire 154. Even the title had no obvious meaning or connotations.

    When I first played 154, I realised the artwork had, in fact, been a fair representation of the sonic contents; mysterious yet immediate, muscular without being macho, sleek yet spiky, motorik but concise. The music had an experimental edge and was frequently unconstrained by the verse/chorus format, with nothing so obvious as a solo. Importantly, however, these were still clearly recognisable as songs - with hooks, melodies and a keenly crafted dynamism. A generous but subtle use of synths and keyboards melded perfectly with the most varied guitar textures of the era, while Robert Gotobed's drumming was cool, direct and uncluttered.

    I couldn't believe something so astonishing had been out for a year and I hadn't heard it. And those lyrics ! In Graham Lewis, Colin Newman and Bruce Gilbert, Wire could boast three articulate and adventurous lyricists. Here were songs that seemed to be about several subjects at once. The album was crammed with turns of phrase which were simultaneously vivid yet ambiguous. Words which demanded to be examined and deciphered.

    When Lewis sang "I haven't found the measure yet, to calibrate my displeaure", did he mean he was royally pissed off ? And what about Newman's "When yellow has turned green to brown, divide by four"? I can still remember the thrill I felt when I finally realised this must be a description of the changing seasons. Whereas the album's closing lines - Gilbert's "In between are where only edges can be seen of the spaces in between" - chimed with my understanding of the cover artwork and also seemed to imply that, despite my determination, Wire's songs couldn't simply be decoded into single interpretations.

    It was of course perfect that I discovered 154 just as I arrived at artschool. Wire were probably the most overtly art school-derived group to arrive since Roxy Music. Their approach to songs as sculpted rhythm and noise, and Gilbert's description of the group as "artists who have chosen sound as a form of expression" both struck a deep chord with me. But this wasn't the sound of earnest chin stroking. Again, like early Roxy, Wire seemed to exhibit a wilfully perverse sense of humour. Take, for example, the way 154's potential hit single was bestowed with the anti-catchy title of "Map Ref 41*N 93*W". Or the way Newman sings the word "chorus" just before the group glide into the track's gloriously uplifting chorus. Was the song deconstructing itself ? Or were Wire larking about ? I quickly decided both were true. One part Marcel Duchamp one part Spike Milligan. Wire made me think hard and laugh hard. And despite their artistic leanings, they rocked hard. I swiftly worked backwards, absorbing their previous albums - the luminous Chairs Missing and the thrillingly fragmentary Pink Flag. The I moved forwards, patiently waiting each new release. Wire consolidated my enthusiasm about the possibilities of langauage and music. And, although I didn't it until a year after the event, I realise now that 154 was the high watermark of 1979."

    Echoes my sentiments perfectly. "It gave absolutely nothing away" - just about sums up the whole Wire project...

    I notice the writer is involved with the BBC3 series Ideal. Didn't some of Githead's music get used in this programme ? Or was it that someone was wearing a Githead T-shirt in one of the episodes ?
    Brian (Graham Duff) wears an Art Git T-shirt in one episode. and ' They Are ' featured at the end of another.
    He has plagiarised my thoughts!!!!! How can i sue?!??!
    I've not seen lots of Ideal (though I do like it) but I'm sure I've heard Bruce Gilbert in there more than once, and in the last series Desmond Simmons
    Duff isn't just 'involved' with Ideal—it's his show. There's been quite a bit of Wire and related stuff (Newman/Gilbert/Simmons/Lobe) played over the years.
    Graham is a very big Wire and related fan and has been a personal friend of mine for a number of years. Having said that I knew nothing about this piece until after he'd done it! By the way Ideal fans might find this amusing