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    Thanks for the BBC review, Biccio. I have a lot of time for Gary Mulholland as a music writer.

    And thanks for the update, Des. Good to know that I have a copy of Strays winging its way here! And yes, it's re-assuring to know it's you - you were always helpful at Posteverything.
    cc says:
    "anyone dis-quiet-ed by how often colin refers to Wire in the third person? Almost as if he's not part of the band!"

    CC, all of the band members used to cultivate a habit of referring to the band in the third person, along with other odd quirks like referring to lyrics as 'texts' and referring to songs as 'items'....Wire don't play songs they 'execute items'. I recall when Read & Burn 3 came out it was mentioned that Bruce Gilbert had some involvement. In Wire-speak, he had "added some gestures".

    This sort of language is familiar to long term fans and people who followed their interviews over the years. It comes from the art school background I suppose, and I rather like it.

    It might sound a bit pretentious but it makes perfect sense, if you put Robert, Graham and Colin in a room they can make a noise...but if you put them in a room and they decide that what they are doing is 'Wire' then something entirely different happens. Like all great bands Wire becomes something bigger than the people involved at that moment and perhaps is of out of control since both band and the fans have an expectation about what Wire IS and what it WAS (which includes Bruce Gilbert of course).
    From: To: nobrainer
    Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2011 11:55

    Hello nobrainer,

    We have just despatched the following:

    1 x Red Barked Tree (CD Album)

    HURRAH !!!!!!!
    Normans Records, who don't give out platitudes lightly, have this to say:

    "This is an unusual move from one of the UK's most enduring alternative units. Gone are much of the angular, aggressive walls of searing confrontational guitar; in place is an atmospheric return to their mid-80s psychedelic pop pastures (albeit with much fuller production!) As with a band of this pedigree, you're not gonna feel too cheated as a mediocre Wire album is probably more challenging than 95% of the indie guitar brigade could ever wish to be. It's just a surprise that this is such a relatively restrained & mellow record. 'Two Minutes' kicks it out a bit harder but ultimately sounds like Prolapse doing a cover of 'Parklife'! What does that say to you? When they do provide the goods, they're almost back on classic ground. 'Clay' has lashings of swirling atmosphere and those taut, minimal guitars frame the distinctive robotic post-Floydian vocals beautifully. Basically this song fits nicely into the Wire "classic pop tune" mould with ease. I prefer it when they display a little bit of wistful tenderness. I definitely find my ears continually pricked by certain melodies & notable dynamic shifts throughout this album. Brett likes their harder, abrasive sound which is of course less apparent on 'Red Barked Tree' - although 'Moreover' amps it back up with a gruffer guitar sound just to prove they ain't gone completely soft. No band in the UK has matured yet retained dignity quite like these guys. You put this on next to the (awful) new Gang of Four album and you're listening to a stone cold classic in comparison!!"
    • CommentAuthorcc says...
    • (CommentTimeJan 7th 2011)
    R, thanks for your comments... yeah, I remembered the use of "texts" and "items" from Kevin's book. In fact, after reading that I tried to refer to my own band's songs as "pieces," and got promptly shot down! I think the self-referential pretension seems more gratuitous now that their reputation is established, whereas in 1978 it might have been useful for suggesting, to anyone who hadn't noticed by the music, that these were not typical punks (or, not punks). Maybe now, the third person serves to remind the band members what hat they're supposed to be wearing at the moment! I myself get a bit confused as to the difference if any between Wire, Pinkflag, Swim, etc...

    but thanks to the Normans, we have a new mark of proggy pretension: "post-Floydian"!

    (btw, I think you want plaudits, not platitudes...)
    Nice to see that Wire got a piece today in the Guardian Guide

    "Too old for punk. Too punk for their hippy label, Harvest. More influenced by Duchamp than any actual music. A quick glance at their CV and you can see Wire have spent 35 years as the most anomalous band in British music. You could be fogiven for thinking that, thanks to a fantastic trio of albums in the late 70s, this is a band more influential than listed to. But short on dogma, long on tunes, the new Wire album sees them, if not quite boasting the original line up (Bruce Gilbert has sat it out since 2003), then certainly operating at full strength. Theirs are succinct and eloquent songs; in a long career Wire continue to deal in short, sharp shocks.

    Waiting for CD. Have an advance listening (legally) here:

    You weren't kidding! Could not watch any of these the whole way through.

    I would have more time for certain 'internetz reviewer's' opinions on songwriting if they could tell the difference between a verse and chorus though.
    So the only bad reviews so far are from some irritating little boys on Youtube. I can't really tell a word the twat in the sunglasses is saying but his main gripe seems to be that the album doesn't sound like the records they made 30 years ago. No shit sherlock.

    Anyway enough of the amateur hacks, back to the magazine racks:

    Uncut magazine gives the record a very positive thumbs up 4/5 and a full page review plus a mini-interview with Colin.
    There is also an interesting 3 page article about the making of 'I Am The Fly' with (apparently new) contributions from all the band members including Bruce Gilbert, and Mike Thorne.
    Interesting to see the solid scoring across the board: lots of 4s so far. Bodes well, as does the 'extended' coverage (interviews and such-like).
    I had deliberately avoided the streaming of the entire album as I wanted to wait till I got the album as...well it’s always a special day in my life when a new Wire cd arrives!

    And this is really good. OK, I’m biased, but other than the odd raucous moment like the Two Minutes taster this seems more textured and melodic than Wire have been since they got back together for Mk 3. So, if Send was like some 21st century take on Pink Flag this is closer to a present day version of 154 though I’m aware that this could be somewhat misleading as there is also quite a bit of A Bell Is A Cup-era Wire here, too. There are also gentler moments that sound unusually pre-punk for Wire. Whatever it works.

    Stewart Lee in today's Sunday Times awards RBT 4 stars and writes the following;

    "Even when first peddling short, sharp 1970s shocks, Wire were essentially conceptual artists, sculpting minimal cubist punk. 35 years later, their 3rd album this century seems a typically tidy modern rock record, albeit one that unfolds within invisible inverted commas. The Artful Dodger dropped aitches of old are replaced with neutralised,classless vowels. Everything sounds pitch-shifted to perfection. Moreover recalls Wire's original noise-burst blueprint. Please Take purloins the tasteful glacial pop of their 80s incarnation and Adapt sports an unashamedly affecting descending chord sequence a more austere Wire might once have thought mawkish. Still they evolve."
    Loving it already.
    More good 'notices' coming in , summarised here
    Having read the comments here, I expected the reviews on You Tube to be hilariously dumb. Now while I don't agree with everything that's said, nor the way it's expressed, I have to say that these reviews sound far closer to the Red Barked Tree that I have heard than any of the reviews here and elsewhere would suggest.

    The word that sticks out most is 'bland', because that's the first thing that struck me about RBT. The production comments I will have to look into, but the MackasaurFM chap is really on the ball as regards the total lack of songwriting ability on display. None of the songs develop, or soar, or grab you by the throat or heart or mind or balls or whatever else a song should grab you buy ... even the better tunes seem to just fade away without building up or taking you away to somewhere else or ... anything!

    But I almost jumped for joy when he quoted the first couplet from Please Take. I played this to my wife on first hearing it, because I couldn't believe a band I loved had written probably the most pathetic line in the history of pop. She confirmed that Wire had indeed done this. And now MackasuarFM has made me feel even better, as the plethora of the recent reviews had had me doubting myself (I won't in future). Lyricism my arse! Unfortunately he didn't point out the awfulness of the chorus: 'F*** off out of my face' - oh for Gawd's sake, grow up, chaps!!!

    I'll doubtless attract some ill feeling on account of this post and I won't post any more negative comments because - hey, this is a Wire fan forum, right? But seeing those clips really did make me feel less 'out on a limb' due to all the pro-RBT guff.

    One thing to note: magazines/etc go through phases and love to pick up on a bunch of oldies to praise to the heavens, I don't know why, they did it with The Fall a year or two ago, which should show you what it's worth because The Fall may once have been great but now they churn out perhaps the most boring, uninspired, ludicrous bilge imaginable. When the broadsheets and the glossies get on the case, it's always 20 years too late! Oh yeah, and a former NME writer told me that he was given 'suggestions' as to how he should write his reviews ... hence an Elastica review that slagged off Wire ... so don't assume that a 4/5 from The Guardian or whatever means a hoot!

    One thing that did irk me about the reviews was the constant comparison with Pink Flag: but if Wire are going to call their label and website Pink Flag, they're simply asking for it!

    One final point: I wanted to like this record. I hate buying records (I still call them records) and then finding they're no good. For years I bought Frank Black and Bob Mould records and tried to convince myself they were good when it was painfully obvious they were way past their prime. Stopping buying their records after years was a wrench (nothing like the agony of no longer buying Fall records, though!).

    Unfortunately I can't pretend to like this record. The lyrics are rubbish and the tunes are bland and go nowhere. Many of the songs seem like tokenistic re-workings of older tunes from all eras of Wire, but without the glorious soaring pop melodies, the dark and disturbing sonic vistas, the 'floating away' psychedelic effect on the listener, the thumping headlong rushes, the seemingly effortless little bursts of sweet melody ... in short, Red Barked Trees sounds like someone attempting to sound like Wire and failing miserably because they don't have the talent. It's a Wire album without any Wire. And that makes me really, really sad.

    Cue the stix and stones ... !

    PS - some good has come out of RBT for me: I can't stop playing their older stuff now!
    I thought Please Take was hilarious—the absolute zenith of Wire's marrying a sweet pop tune with a nasty lyric, but horses for courses, I guess.

    Also, funny how the lowest-rated review (Simon Price, Independent) name-checks a band member and gets said name wrong. Seriously, if you don't know who's singing, don't guess (with a 50/50 chance, he still gets it wrong with: There's something jarring about hearing 56-year-old Colin Newman spit a couplet as snotty and adolescent as "Fuck off out of my face/ You take up too much space").

    Love ThisIsLondon's take: "From the opener Please Take to the closing title track, this is a record that will never embarrass you and will also give clues as to how discerning your friends are. Get rid if they don't like it."
    The problem is, many people see Wire as being Colin Newman. It's the same with many bands. I've always thought Graham should take over at least half of the vocal duties, anyway. His voice seems to get stronger through the years. His best vocal ever was, in my not-even-vaguely-humble opinion, on Goodbye Ploy. He sounds really narked on that one. And no childish swearing, either! (except for 'pricks', but that's just a wee swear in my book!)

    Swearing in songs always sounds crap, anyway. Can't think of a single naughty word in a song that doesn't make me cringe. Except What A Waster by The Libertines which was the final word in song-swears. (So why does pete doherty swear in almost every song he sings? Search me ... but he should stop it. Now. )

    RE the This Is London comment: the first line embarrasses me!
    Music is all about opinions and yours is as valid as anyone elses. Please Take is my favourite track because as you say ,Grahams voice gets better with age. It probably helps that I've heard it a couple of times live along with Now Was & Adapt. I'm slightly disappointed with Smash as I believe its better live than on the record. I'm also not too keen on the title track but then thats MY opinion. Overall I'm happy that I have another Wire CD in my collection. I could play it to 10 friends and the chances are 5 will like it the other 5 will say its the biggest load of crap they've ever heard. I can't stand Stereophonics/Manic Street Preachers/Pulp/Blur/Magazine but I like ABBA.

    As the Scouse beat combo Cast once sang " So when you gonna learn, that it takes all sorts ,don't you think that life would be a little bland ,if we had the same thoughts".

    Agree with your comments on the once - mighty Fall . Saw them 2 years ago and it pained me to listen to a once great band sounding like a tribute act.And a very bad one.
    I lost interest in the Fall in the mid to late 90's, but I've got to say they have released some great records in the last 10 years or so. And even the more patchy affairs always include at least one stone cold classic that is worth the price alone.
    The freebie Metro newspaper gives RBT a 4/5 review summing it us as.."all satisfyingly spiky - and impressively sprightly."