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  1.  
    I think its Wires best album since Object 47 , which was the best since Send..............you see where this is going ?
  2.  
    Not really, unless you're saying every Wire album is a bit worse than the previous one!
  3.  
    While Object 47 had it's sublime moments, there's no way it could worm its way into the top half of the league table of Wire albums. Red Barked Tree, however, is right up there with the best... and possibly challenging for a Champions League place!

    In fact, RBT possibly splits the first three albums – which have been Wire's top three albums since the day the dinosaur invented the wheel. Crazy notion I know. Anyway, for what it's worth....here's my new top six of Wire albums:
    1. Pink Flag
    2. Chairs Missing
    3. Red Barked Tree
    4. 154
    5. Send
    6. A Bell Is A Cup....

    So two entries there for Wire Mark III – and if it was packaged as a whole album the Read and Burn trilogy would be in there as well
  4.  
    I honestly think it is their most cohesive and enjoyable album since 154. Wire made some brilliant individual tracks in the 80s and indeed 'The A List' is all killer, no filler, but all the 80s LPs have several rather flat moments which stop them short of being great records.
    'Send' has grown on me over time but it is one long, dense thicket of noise. O47 is very enjoyable (and One of Us is a perfect Wire Pop song) but RBT beats 'em all for my money.
  5.  
    I hate to be a 2nd dissenting voice to what are overwhelming positive reactions to RBT, but I just find it rather……disappointing. Half the tracks are ok (no more really when compared to the rest of Wire’s catalogue), others (partic the ones that are raved about here), quite dull! I love the fact that Wire lp’s are all different & I hope they continue with that, but I just don’t get this at all. When Two Minutes was ‘leaked’, my appetite was whetted & I thought the new lp was gonna be a slight return to the harder Send from O47’s poppier sound – and I was happy with that! But there is no ‘edge’ to this lp at all – it’s almost like the guitars have been swamped in the mix to attain a Radio 1 approval. This will prob be a very commercially successful lp & gain a wider audience for Wire - & they deserve it - but one reason I’ve liked Wire for 30-odd years is that their music is challenging, but once you ‘get’ it, it stays with you – RBT just flows over you (well, me) leaving nothing behind. Some will be better live, but I hope that RBT doesn’t provide the whole set like the RTE gig next month!

    Hopefully, RBT will grow on me, but assuming I’m still around in 20 years & I’m still playing music in my living room I will still be playing Wire, but I suspect RBT will be the last one I reach for, whereas 20/30 years after their release 154 or Manscape still excite me.

    Sorry guys (Colin, Graham & Robert), but I don’t ‘get’ this one at all – can’t wait for the next one, though!

    (gb – once again in a gang of one (or 2) & happy with it!)
  6.  
    My copy still has not shown up (stupid ocean), but I just couldn't stand it any longer and picked up a redundant copy. What the hell, Wire makes a great gift.

    First and foremost I must note that this is one of the best-sounding Wire albums I have ever heard. All my gripes about Send and the first two R&Bs have been swept aside by the careful attention that was clearly paid to the engineering of Red Barked Tree. It sounds like a million bucks on its own Wire-y terms. This is an album that is so easy to "crank" I can barely stand it.

    Bravo!

    Two Minutes was indeed an interesting choice to tease us with, as I was expecting - as others did - a retreat from the path set out on O47 and back into the Send-era sound. This wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing, however I am delighted with the outcome on RBT. Not only is it an improvement on the "radio-friendly" concept that I read somewhere was one of the starting points of O47, it accomplishes this without going overboard (as in a few of the more troubling areas of Manscape).

    What I have enjoyed most is the return of what I can only describe as "majestic decoration" - a Mute-era trend that saw beautiful, sweeping keyboard parts or guitar overdubs thrown onto the main structure of a song. The studio Madman's Honey or Ur/Um contain great examples of this - the very closing of Ur/Um gets me every time. I'm so glad that this has returned - most evident for me (so far) in Bad Worn Thing.

    Anyway, I am not well-versed enough with it yet to do a point-by-point on the album and I don't think it's necessary with this crowd, but Bad Worn Thing and A Flat Tent are in obsessive rotation with the rest certain to follow.

    I'm also not much for saying "almost as good as Chairs Missing" or "worse than Send" etc.

    It's another damn fine Wire album, and that's enough for me.
  7.  
    @ Garage band

    No need to apologise for being a dissenting voice, better that than this being a big fanboy love-in where Wire can do no wrong.

    I don't agree they were going for Radio 1 airplay though. The chances of Wire being on Radio 1 are nil, and indeed there has been much ado in the media recently over the lack of anything with guitars in the charts or on mainstream radio unless it's been on the Glee soundtrack (whatever that is). If it weren't for BBC 6Music I doubt you'd hear much Wire on UK radio at all.

    As for what the gigs are going to be like, someone has posted the Setlist of the New Zealand gig here if you're interested in what the set is likely to be.

    http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/wire/2011/kings-arms-auckland-new-zealand-7bd2e254.html

    8 Songs from RBT, 1 from the 00s, 5 from the 80s, 4 from the 70s. Nothing from O47 interestingly enough.
  8.  
    I wouldn't call this record 'bland', but I have to say the first 4 songs really don't do much for me. brevity may be the soul of wit but sometimes a 2 minute song is just a 2 minute song. for me, as someone else stated, this song really doesn't go anywhere. I like the spoken word lyrics, but this song doesn't blast off and soar. I have no problem with the "profanity"-- compared to hardcore rap the lyrics are really rather tame. I kind of like the lyrics in "please take", nowhere near as dumb as Iggy Pop's "my dick is growing into a tree", ha, ha, ( from the Weirdness), but it's not a song that's going to get a heavy rotation on my ipod.

    the record really gets interesting, however, w 'clay', 'bad worn thing', and 'moreover'. classic WIRE . and can't wait to hear 'moreover' live, which is not unlike a Velvet Underground rave-up. 'flat tent' and 'smash' are nicely done, but then it peters out at the end. "red barked trees" has been described in several reviews as psychedelia, but I don't see it. prog-blues perhaps, though it really doesn't sweep me away and that's kind of how I feel about this album in general. so for me about half of it is great and the other half just ordinary.

    someone on the guardian site mentioned their preference for Mission of Burma and I see their point. I would have liked , on balance, a heavier, more raucous sound. MoB's "absent mind" might be a good template to work from. and there's great new (free) download by MIA- it's a totally fucked up sprawling mess. I'd love to see WIRE do something along those lines. In any event looking forward to the live shows.
  9.  
    R Swimmer - thanx 4 set list. If that's what they bring over here, I'd be perfectly happy! Apart from Clay, RBT & adapt I think the other RBT trax can be beefed up live!

    Interesting video for Clay!!!!
  10.  
    Now that I've had the chance to listen to RBT for a while, I'm once again struck by how what everyone else says about Wire and their works never quite matches up with my own impressions. None of the descriptions I previously read, even the ones that sounded really interesting to me, really capture the album in my view. I think it would be impossible for Wire to completely divorce itself from traces of and references to its earlier work (Wire is going to sound like Wire whether the album is Pink Flag or Manscape), but to me this album manages to be its own thing, not really "like" any of the others.

    For me, the trio (and sequence) of Moreover - A Flat Tent - Smash were the instant "hook" that justified the purchase price. Please Take and Clay took hold quick, while Adapt and Down To This were a bit more slow and insidious in worming their way into my brain. Even though the rest of the tracks don't "grab" me quite as much, none of them are in any way unlistenable - Even my least favorite track from the album beats out most of the local radio fare.

    What seems to set it apart for me is the sense of "guitarness" - There's vocals, drums, and then a lot of sounds which are either guitars, or could possibly be guitars. Even warbling background textures, though processed, are not so alien as to immediately conjure the idea of an artificial synth or sampler. By contrast, Send and O47 had many deliberately artificial-sounding elements, while the 80s/90s albums were crammed with them. In a way, this album calls back to the 70s material, when synth work was far more rare, and strange textures were created with guitars (at least in part because that's all there was to work with at that moment).
  11.  
    "What I have enjoyed most is the return of what I can only describe as 'majestic decoration' - a Mute-era trend that saw beautiful, sweeping keyboard parts or guitar overdubs thrown onto the main structure of a song."

    I agree completely. There's just something really special about the song arrangements on this album. The songs feel rich and warm, even when the lyrical subject matter diverges from that. It's not really a "happy" record, but it feels... I don't know. Calm, maybe? Definitely worlds apart from the unrelenting intensity of Send/R&B.

    Some thoughts after listening to Red Barked Tree (and Object 47, and Send) pretty heavily in the past few days:

    - The Wire album that most closely resembles this one is (in my opinion) ABIAC. This is a good thing. The songs have that same catchy quirkiness to them.

    - As great as this album is, I think I would've been equally happy with another collection of songs that sound like Send. Moreso than any of their other albums (even the first three), Send is what cemented my love of Wire. That album, and the Read & Burn EPs, will always be special to me.

    - This has probably been pointed out a billion times already but the lead guitar riff on Please Take sounds like a nod to Blessed State.

    - On that note, this album feels a lot like the later albums from a lot of my favorite bands/musicians (Bowie's Heathen, New Order's Get Ready, Depeche Mode's Sounds of the Universe) in that Wire seem to be drawing inspiration from their entire back catalog. It's a victory lap album.

    - Moreover and the title track are So. Fucking. Good.

    - Two Minutes has grown on me, but it's still probably my least favorite song on the album. Love the music, don't care much for the spoken-word lyrical delivery.

    - My only real complains with this album at this point is that it's dulled my love of Object 47 quite a bit. I still think it's a great album, but song-for-song RBT is definitely superior (in my opinion). Nothing wrong with forward progress though, right?
  12.  
    I couldn't help it: this morning on my commute I began to imagine that if you stripped Colin out of Adapt and threw in Liz Fraser singing "sleefalafoosipbabafwee" or whatever the hell she's on about, you'd have a Cocteau Twins song. Moreso if you removed Robert and replaced him with a LinnDrum.

    Not that this is a bad thing, nor does it detract from my enjoyment of it. I like a few CT songs. Just thought it was kind of funny to imagine.

    (nor do I know if this is an original observation - haven't read many of the RBT reviews out there, admittedly)
  13.  
    i've read plenty of reviews of RBT (the latest one in the february issue of the wire magazine) and i'm pretty sure the "sleefalafoosipbabafwee" cocteau twins observation has not been made in any of those i've read
  14.  
    I suppose I could do a search on "sleefalafoosipbabafwee" and find out for certain.
  15.  
    "sleefalafoosipbabafwee"

    I cant find this Cocteaus song in my collection ,where can I find it ?? !!
  16.  
    I have a Cocteau Twins lyric book. It's just one page and simply says: "sleefalafoosipbabafwee". Repeat.
    (I love the CT's by the way)


    I agree with Jameslabove that RBT does 'quote' from earlier works. I think that's the least endearing aspect of it, and you're right that bands of a certain vintage can't resist doing it. A Certain Ratio's last record is full of beats and riffs which are recycled from old stuff, and even has a track from 'Sextet' re-recorded. Wire can get away with it here because at least the record in general is quite a departure, especially Adapt and the title track.
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeJan 20th 2011 edited)
     
    I've only been able to listen to the album once since my greedbag arrived a couple of days ago, and after going bonkers when I found the Guardian stream one night, then abstaining until I could listen to the echt CD on my system, I wasn't quite brought back to the same level of enjoyment, the first time... but I'm confident that it's a much better album than O47, which I was hooked on by "One of Us" but now only listen to that and the last track when I put it on. Some of the songs that are reminiscent of O47 ("Bad Worn Thing," for example, for "Mekon Headman") are far more listenable to me. I'm tending to agree with the comments that RBT's strongest stretch is in the latter middle.

    I'm also just now consuming Send Ultimate, and in the notes Wilson Neate makes much of Colin's "dancefloor" background at the time of those recordings, particularly the "dark" subgenre of drum and bass. I'd listened to some drum and bass in my day, but had never heard of this strand, and I think its influence on Send is very favorable, taking the rhythms beyond fast & loud rock--I wonder if there's an equivalent subgenre that is presently influencing Colin and his production style on RBT? Might be fun to explore; I plan to dredge up some "dark" d&b if I can find any.

    I also hadn't realized how fundamental Bruce was to Send. I'd surmised that the sonic aggression there had something to do with him, but didn't know that most of the tracks were worked up by him & Colin as a duo. I think the particular kind of noise that Bruce apparently went for there is remarkable for its density and claustrophobia (I think I'm cribbing this from Neate again), and I wonder if one of the problems of O47's sound is from the attempt to reproduce that sense of thickness but with different instruments, or at least different guitars, that is, without Bruce?

    whichever, the new album surely benefits from the air that was missing previously. Though aspects of the recording still seem a bit rough to me--the snare drum, for example, sounds pretty thin at times. Maybe I wasn't listening loud enough...
  17.  
    Review on the 17 Seconds website. Pretty good review, so the mere three and half stars at the end was quite surprising.



    Wire -’Red Barked Tree’ (Pink Flag)

    So, not only are Gang Of Four back with a new album, so are Wire!

    …except, while Content is Gang Of Four’s first album in sixteen years, Wire may have gone on hiatus over the years, but they have been back together since the mid-eighties in some form or another. And sure, Wire are probably best remembered for their opening salvo, the trilogy of albums that was Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154, they have continued to produce great singles and albums. If at the very least you haven’t heard songs like ‘Kidney Bingos’ and ‘Ear drum buzz’ then shame on you, frankly.

    Album opener ‘Please Take’ is deceptive, sounding slight at first until you realise that -like say, Scritti Politti’s ‘The Word Girl’- it is a hugely angry song. ‘Please take your knife out of my back/and when you do, please don’t twist it.’ There is definitely a je ne sais quoi Wire sound, and even if this album lacks the oddness associated with their earlier work, the ‘Wire sound’ is here in spades. Pinpointing what it is is the trouble -yet whether it’s the dreamy guitars of ‘Adapt’ or the lyrical matter of factness of ‘Please Take’ or the controlled feedback of ‘Two Minutes’ -it’s definitely a Wire album. And that’s a very good thing.

    Sure this album doesn’t explore weird terrain in the way that their early work did, and I’m not entirely sure how many new fans it will win them. But as someone who loves their work, it’s a fine album, and good to have it.

    ***1/2

    http://17seconds.co.uk/blog/
  18.  
    Fair enough on the rating, but if that's the quality of writing on that blog, I'm not exactly tempted to nip over there.
  19.  
    So I'm not the only person unmoved by RBT, after all!

    My 'real' copy arrived a while back and I had been putting off playing it ... but yesterday I took the plunge. Made it halfway through. Finished the rest this morning. I have to confess that even I was taken aback to realise I actually dislike it more than ever, finding it bland to the point of offensiveness, so much so that I'm going to stick it on ebay. With 'Strays' thrown in, which was even worse than I anticipated. I love the way that German Shepherds - so great, so majestic, so rousing, so moving, so regal on IBTABA - has been reduced to a spineless piece of formless, soulless and utterly unremarkable blubber. Would not have thought it possible. A real achievement.

    Worst Wire album ever? Maybe not quite (The First Letter sucks big time), but certainly the least interesting. A few tracks are reasonable - Flat Tent, Smash, Adapt - but they're far too little compensation in a sea of mediocrity.

    Sorry to be such a 'downer', but I haven't been so 'let down' by a favourite artist since The Fall's Levitate / Bob Mould's Last Dog And Pony Show / Frank Black's Dog In The Sand.

    Is this really the same band who recorded SEND ?!?