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    Imo both Ideal and Bell have some of the best lyrics and tunes Wire have written. The production values and some of the choices of sounds and mix are debateable, but to write them off as inferior works I think is wrong.
    I'll be plunging into R&B this weekend, but from what I've quickly seen (I flicked straight to the chapter discussing The Ideal Copy for a quick five minute scan), I have a feeling I'm going to have a lot to say on here about it.

    Unless Wilson Neate has more to say about Ahead than 'Colin sounds a bit bored on the vocal', then I frankly won't be taking a word the man says seriously.
    Excellent book. No one come out badly, just human. Music remains like art is a totally personal experience, interesting to read the background....
    "Bell is a Cup: Take the snare out back and shoot it. Twice."

    I love that comment, Craig! That horrible EQ'd-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life snare sound detracts from an otherwise outstanding album – which, by the way, was my introduction to Wire.

    It reminds me of my other favourite band: XTC. One of their most unsung albums is The Big Express from 1984. It's a record loved by the die-hard fans, but sounds dated because it has that horrible mechanical-sounding Linn drum plastered over a lot of the tracks. Andy Partridge and co lived to regret using it. Apparently it took an age to programme and what was the reward? A stiff back beat that blighted a number of exceptional songs and resulted in XTC's poorest selling album.
    A great book... hard reading at times (in a 'Christ! That was a bit vicious!' way) but a really good read.

    I think Neate and band members are a bit hard on the 80's output... maybe that's because this era was my first point of reference of Wire and although I hunted out the 70's stuff (and love it) it's not my personal 'holy grail of Wire' as I don't have the same chronological 'expectations' that those admirers from the beginning might have.

    Would definitely love a remaster of the 80's stuff but all this talk of 'remixing' or 'changing things' is a bit odd to me... for better or worse these are the albums that Wire made, objects of their time and circumstance.

    Sure, Bell would have been better in some ways with more *real* bass and drums over sequenced/sampled stuff (Graham mentions the Astoria gig from the LB series as what Bell should have sounded like... that was my first Wire gig so I find it hard to disagree) but it is what it is... they did (mostly) what sounded right at the time.

    Amused that 'Manscape' takes such a battering whilst 'The First Letter' gets off pretty lightly... the actual songs from both are (mostly) very good... maybe some of the sounds from the former and the clunky drum programming from the latter are not as good as they could have been... but again, something was created at the time and released as a document of the process.
    An interesting book for the Wire fan.

    The books final words from CN seem to sum up the negative surrounding the main theme of individual Wire component angst. I was kinda left with a feeling of " ferk me after all those years did you not have a little bit of fun along the way and maybe one (or even two ) side splitting humorous Wire moments ". If Wire did have the odd giggle along the way then the author has had his ears wide shut in not teasing them out to balance the book. Equally if Wire really did lack a bit of occasional fun together as comes across in the book, then perhaps that's the penance for not having a proper day job :0)

    Wow. I'm 2/3 of the way through and the level of negativity between the members is greater than I ever thought. Who comes out of this with a good reputation?
    Gilles Martin?
    Pink Floyd?

    To credit Wilson Neate, it's a great read with enough detail about the recording processes and the music itself to balance the personal conflicts. But, it's still not as good as Isabelle Corbisier's fantastic book about Tuxedomoon ("Music for vagabonds") though, which depicts Wire-like levels of creative differences but with added homoerotic tension!
    "Who comes out of this with a good reputation?"

    I think they all come across as creative individuals who just didn't properly gel much of the time, meaning Wire was at many points the result of internal cliques with at least one member doing little. A book is of course one person's take on matters, but the thing I found most fascinating was Rob's insights, and also the manner in which he most recently seemed to fight for the most sensible thing to do.
    My copy of the book arrives today and, having read all the comments on this thread, I can't wait to get stuck into it.

    I re-listened to Colin and Graham's interview on the Radcliffe and Maconie Six Music show and when they were asked about their reaction to the book Graham seemed OK ( with a hint of reservation) about it.

    I'm looking at it as a sort of therapy for the band. Saying things in public can sometimes be the best way to clear the decks and move forward. And if the last two records are anything to go by, getting 'stuff' out of their system has certainly reinvigorated them as a band.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of it. I guess my biggest positive about the book is the way all the informational bits and data points were woven into the narrative and quotes from the band. Rather than a high level chronology with lists at the end. I also liked the chance to take a peak at the personalities behind the names and in particular RG. By the end of the book I was getting a bit weary of the explicit analysis of the dichotomy between CN and BG. Overall, it definitely changed the way I listen to the music, and I was dragging out all of it to accompany my reading.
    Much of the creative friction comes, I think, from the origins of the group. Rather than coming together with positive common interests, they were drawn far more so by common dislikes (no Americanisms, no solos, etc). That common negativity is what initially inspired. And while that can generate a lot of great ideas, it seems like a foundation for future disagreement—something that first manifested itself on 154. If what you share is primarily what you don't like, finding common positive ground going forward, after the heady rush of initial exploration, would be a lot tougher than for groups that came together because of shared loves. In that respect, that these guys split up yet keep coming back to try again, and, far more often than not, create something worth paying attention to—well, that's quite remarkable. One wonders whether post-Bruce the remaining three would say that they've put that shared negativity behind them and now share a more positive common vision. RBT and CBU certainly sound to me like more positive and confident records than any since CM.
    "One wonders whether post-Bruce the remaining three would say that they've put that shared negativity behind them and now share a more positive common vision."

    From what I understand, there's definitely a more positive common vision in the sense of "we want Wire to continue and exist". However, Colin and Graham in particular are very different in the way they go about creating things. As was probably clear from the book, Graham's into complex soundscapes and carefully considered texts; by comparison, Colin's a reductionist who loves simplicity, and he cares more about the sound of text than its content. What's most interesting for me is how Rob was heavily influential in the band's very existence and how Matt has clearly reinvigorated things.
    > What's most interesting for me is how Rob was heavily influential in the band's very existence and how Matt has clearly reinvigorated things.

    RG's role was certainly the most significant revelation of the book for me. And it does make me wonder how MS' character and perspective fits within the band. Whose attitude does he most resemble, and how much influence does he bring to work routines and the like? It's one thing to be promoted to proper band member status, but is there an unspoken "junior" status to it that limits his role in disagreements? Normally these would be silly gossipy questions, but given past tensions and all, it has more legitimacy.
    It is interesting to read the comments about the tensions between Colin and Bruce as aired in Read and Burn. During the writing of ELAH those tensions were there but mainly kept at bay as all four had work to do and in the main they were aired off-record.
    With Bruce out of the Wire camp all parties now feel free, and possibly somewhat liberated, at being able to talk more freely.
    If Bruce were still with Wire one wonders if R and B would be as open, frank and revealing as it is.
    Both books illustrate some of the pitfalls of documenting a person/people still alive and willing to participate in the process—consciously or not, they're seeking to shape the narrative for present needs. At the time Kevin was interviewing them, the narrative was "this is how we got past the tensions to work together," whereas Neate experienced "this is why we couldn't get past the tensions and could no longer work together." And it doesn't have to mean that there is dissembling going on, just shared and unshared details and emphases that best illustrate the desired effect.
    The only major bone to pick with the book for me is the re-framing of Pink Flag as "just another punk album of it's era". I don't know how anyone could listen to Pink Flag and think it fits right in with the other punk albums of 1977.

    There seems to be this perception amongst the Wire fan community that Pink Flag is supposed to be your intro to the band and then eventually you're supposed to "get over it" because it's somehow not as sophisticated as Wire's other releases because it's easier to put the album into a category. I fell into this trap for a few years and then eventually realized that Pink Flag is the foundation of everything that Wire stand for and it's one of the only albums in their catalog that sounds like the band playing together in a room. Wire playing together in unison produces a force that cannot be replicated with overdubbing to assemble a 'performance'
    Pink Flag has plenty of overdubs and studio trickery (the fact that it doesn't sound like it is a testament to what a great bit of production it is)

    I'm not sure I recognise the consensus you ascribe to the fan community about Pink Flag being the start point.
    We all have our ultimate Wire mixtape for the uninitiated.

    For me, growing up in the 80s/90s and gradually picking up on Wire I started with the 80s singles and worked back from 154. PF I found the least appealing of the Harvest triptych as it sounded the most obviously punky, and there were bits that felt a bit throwaway and not a patch on Chairs and 154.

    I've grown to love it, and particularly around the 'Send' era it was certainly the record that informed where Wire were. Despite the fact it looms large over the band and is the name of the record label I don't think everything Wire stand for is encapsulated in Pink Flag, unless you're the optimistic bloke with the Mohican shouting for 12XU on every single Wire bootleg.

    One of the reasons I became fascinated with the band was that it became very apparent that you couldn't pinpoint one definitive Wire really need to hear the whole lot.
    "At the time Kevin was interviewing them, the narrative was "this is how we got past the tensions to work together".

    I would now say that the narrative was "how can we present a combined united front, in spite of clear differences and tensions." One must remember that I interviewed them post Bell is A Cup up to Robert's leaving post-Manscape, so all was fresh and positive (with some reservations). Wilson's book now captures them in full hindsight mode and unburdened by any thoughts of breaking ranks. That's a good thing and something ELAH lacks.
    Despite the openness and forthrightness of R&B there doesn't seem to be any bitterness or rancour on display. They have got it all off their chests once and for all and can move on. They all agree there is work to do and whilst Graham and Colin have different approaches that difference is good and can only produce good work.
    > I would now say that the narrative was "how can we present a combined united front, in spite of clear differences and tensions."

    In retrospect, do you see those interviews as a conscious effort to present a united front—that they were trying to persuade you—or was it something that they were doing to persuade themselves? Or both?