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  1.  
    I'm not sure that there was a conscious or premeditated decision to present a united front. However, they were being professional and in the main singing from the same hymn sheet. The differences over the 154 and Ideal Copy sessions aside everything else comes as a common cause.
    Also remember that this was the first time a book had been written about them and whatever it's eventual shortcomings or views on its architecture I don't believe it did them any harm.
    R&B is written with a lot of historical hindsight and plenty of time to be interviewed and reflect on the preceding years.
    The first thing Bruce said when I proposed the book to him and Graham was "Ah well that's it. The butterfly's been pinned down".
    For all it's warts and all R&B not only pins the butterfly but dissects and investigates in ways that ELAH failed (or was not allowed) to do.
  2.  
    I've just reached the 154 recording sessions. It's all kicking off!

    Great book...and it has picked up a lot of great reviews but I can't see it selling to anyone other than Wire devotees.
  3.  
    Still hacking my way through R&B ... up to Wir so far, and dipped into some of the later bits. It's a fascinating read for a fan, though as suggested above, it probably won't go much further than the dedicated.

    I recall on the IC list around the turn of the century there was quite a bit of chat about the internal band dynamics. Most of it, it now emerges, was completely incorrect, since I think the general supposition was that the major creative tension was between Colin and Graham. Bruce was even described by someone as the 'glue' in Wire ... clearly that description, if anyone wants or needs it, should be applied to Robert.

    R&B is well ahead of most rock biographies in terms of its style and execution. Personally I could have done with a bit less editorialising about certain songs and albums, probably because I happen to disagree with most of WN's assessments. I found the dissing of 'Madman's Honey' particularly hard to swallow, and as for his description of 'Small Black Reptile' as 'pleasure-cruise reggae', what can one say but 'bollocks'? And I find his enthusiasm for 'In Vivo' and 'Other moments' inexplicable. But there you go, it's his book and on the whole he's done an elegant and comprehensive job.

    It's caused me to re-listen to lots of stuff which is a good thing - still don't rate 'The Drill' much, still like most of the other 80s material. I think I must have 80s ears because gated snares and the like just don't bother me particularly.

    Clearly WN had to exclude the solo stuff to keep the project manageable, but something is lost, as the solo projects reflects and illuminate the work of the group, as Kevin's book showed. For example, Colin's decision to release 'B' as a single shows that perhaps he's not always been entirely immune to commercial self-sabotoge...

    Howard
  4.  
    "Colin's decision to release 'B' as a single shows that perhaps he's not always been entirely immune to commercial self-sabotoge…"

    Ha! Yes—although, to be fair, Colin's since suggested that wasn't a smart move, whereas I think Bruce would stick with his anti-commercial decisions. I wonder at the time what might have happened had Order For Order been released and got some airplay?
  5.  
    "I wonder at the time what might have happened had Order For Order been released and got some airplay?"

    I doubt it would have made a great deal of difference. It doesn't strike me as 'hit single' material, and it probably wasn't a good time for another solo artist to be called Newman and to be singing in the Order For Order style (as I think has been alluded to elsewhere) without drawing (what would have been) spurious comparisons

    A more obvious single than OFO, in my opinion, would have been & Jury, but even then I'm not sure it would have 'broken' Colin(or whatever the term is).

    Just glancing trough the tracklist of A-Z it strikes me that, perverse though it was, and again never likely (as it indeed turned out) to propel Colin towards mainstream success, once you see it with the video, it's the best - if not most obvious - choice for a single from the album.

    As an aside - for fun I just played S-S-S-Star Eyes (which I absolutely love) over the video for 'B'. The version that I landed on on Youtube was not a full version - in fact close in length to S-S-S-Star Eyes. They actually do play quite well together.
  6.  
    "it probably won't go much further than the dedicated."

    I hope that's not the case. It's so well written I think it's the kind of book that a casual fan would find interesting and the way Wilson illuminates the music and the creative process/tensions behind it, it would have them wanting to delve deeper into Wire's catalogue. It's clearly written with a wider audience in mind, so I hope it reaches it.

    It's getting some good reviews which say the same
    Mojo says "Those assuming a Wire biography might be a little dry are in for a surprise...it's emotionally engaging" 4 Stars

    Record Collector says "Mercifully unhindered by propriety, yet with full access to Wire personnel and affiliates, Neate presents an absorbing, unsparing insight into the working practices of a band saddled at birth with an inappropriate "Punk" epithet, yet whose actions, utterances and structure nevertheless resound with intimations of conflict, negation and defiance" 4 Stars

    Sounds like a good read for any music fan, not just us lot!
  7.  
    Still not finished yet, but it's a fascinating read. Neate is frequently entirely wrong when he weighs in on what's good and bad, of course (he's far too willing to subscribe to Colin's jaundiced view on The Ideal Copy and his assertion that the largely horrible Send is an 'unambiguous success' is risible), but I guess opinions are like arseholes, aren't they?

    Agree with the general points above about his not going near the solo stuff being a weakness of the book, as it assumes knowledge on behalf of the reader they may not have. While I've got the full suite of solo material and can join the dots in terms of what solo work informed the direction of Wire, I'm not sure everyone reading will be able to do that.

    Still, it's been hugely enjoyable, particularly when there's reference to gigs I was at, and I've learned a great deal (never knew about the aborted Erasure tour - that would've been quite something).

    No-one give away the ending, though (I'm up to the point where there's some talk of Bruce leaving. The suspense is killing me).
  8.  
    I'm clearly a slower reader than everybody else... or I have more household chores to do than you lucky fellas!

    Anyway, I've now reached the second breakup stage following the Wir phase so I thought I'd offer a few observations.

    1. Colin's existence in Wire from 1985 to 92 (with the exception of A Bell Is a Cup) feels positively painful. Talk about suffering for your art. Can I speculate that he did have a few positive things to say about that era and Wilson Neate chose not to print them?

    2. The overuse of technology left so many songs from that era sounding stiff and mechanical. Stating the bleedin' obvious there!

    3. The sidelining of Robert... well, I'm amazed he ever came back. How bad and dated do some of those drum samples sound now?

    4. I knew Wire stymied their career by taking the awkward route so many times. I never realised they did it EVERY time!

    5. The recording process for Manscape is mind-boggling. Whatever happened to plugging guitars into amps and making a racket?

    6. I admire Graham and Bruce's artistic integrity, but sometimes it seemed their outlook to recording techniques got so narrow and rigid there was very little elbow room for the band to grow.

    7. The fact Wire are still going strong today (albeit without Bruce) is a miracle. And for that we can all be truly thankful.
  9.  
    Stephen - must confess, I've taken almost the polar opposite view to you away from the book. Personally, I'm aggrieved that Colin's version of the story seems to now be the 'official' line, and have a lot of sympathy with Bruce when he says that Colin thinks he's the only member who knows what Wire should be.

    We can probably all agree that it's the artistic tension between the members of the band which has helped produce such fantastic results over so many years. Therefore, the historical revisionism being peddled, particularly by Colin, does a disservice to the work, particularly the Mute era.

    I've always thought Wire produce their best material when they're stretching the boundaries of what pop can be and ask real questions of their audience, rather than when they try to deliver what the audience seems to want. Therefore, I've got little time for Pink Flag or for Send, as those are the two works which strike me as trying too hard to 'fit in' (or 'make a racket', as you suggest), rather than the band pursuing its own vision. I have a long-held theory that bands that are flailing and don't know what they're doing always resort to just turning the guitars up and the results are, pretty much without exception, terrible (see: REM, Primal Scream, New Order, etc, etc), so it's always disappointing when the best band in the world feel they have to go the same way.

    Manscape's still crap, I grant you that, though.

    50 pages still to go....
  10.  
    Colin's version as the "official line"? I didn't get that at all from the book. Much of it seemed to be a tug o’ war between Colin and Bruce, with Graham a relatively free entity and Rob often the voice of reason and sanity. As far as I could see, everyone got a fair crack at telling their side of the story, and I thought it was balanced.

    Also, in terms of the music itself, I'd say Colin's thoughts on the ’80s material (and certainly its production) have grown more negative, but if you read Kevin's book you'll find in that he was generally very negative about Ideal Copy, for much the same reasons.

    I'm also not sure the artistic tension is really (or at least primarily) what made Wire produce results—I think it was having four talented people being creative, sometimes rubbing up against each other (which produces unexpected output). As for Send and making a racket, God knows how Wire would have ended up had it taken on what Bruce wanted to do after that period. ("Way more extreme," was how Colin once described it to me. It sounded like Bruce wanted to turn Wire's output into In Esse.)
  11.  
    Craig - I don't mean one voice is heard over the others. More that Wilson Neate appears to agree with Colin's opinion when it comes to judgements on the work. Which I have a hard time with, as he's frequently condemning my favourite records.

    I've read ELAH many times and am familiar with the antipathy Colin feels about The Ideal Copy (which is disappointing as that was my way in to the band). And I agree about the rationale for Send and how the process was probably correct for the time. Just don't ask me to listen to it.
  12.  
    Funny, because I got the impression he more often sided with Bruce across the book, although not necessarily in terms of the quality of the work. I guess it's open to interpretation!
  13.  
    The author is rough on much of the material I quite like, true. But as soon as I read Colin's description of how much he despises Feed Me I was reminded, as mentioned above, that opinions are like...

    What was interesting to me was everything that Gareth Jones had to say about the MIDI/technological processes and how he would have gladly sidestepped them if Wire would have. At this point it seems like a popular suggestion is that they were molded into something they're not by meddling producers and engineers (I am not talking about Manscape, where it seems like that's exactly what happened). It is too easy to look at some of Jones' projects around that time (DM, Erasure) and suggest that he's the one who slicked them up too much, but when Bell is consistently talked up as being "Colin's baby" in the book I look at that information, then Commercial Suicide and It Seems, and... well... I shift the blame (as it were) off of Jones and onto Newman. (and just a reminder: I adore Bell, and much of CS and IS)

    I suspect it is important to remember that the bulk of the electronic tools that bands were using in the 80s sounded terrible without some kind of processing - even the notorious popular ones. The Yamaha DX7 sounded terrible. The famed Roland TR-808 sounded terrible. Early samplers - even the mighty Fairlight - sounded really terrible. None of these instruments really came to life (on record; live is a different story) until wrangled by a good producer and/or engineer - and IMHO, Gareth Jones was one of the best of the era for that kind of thing. People Are People sure suffers from Mr. Gore's awkward way with words, but those sounds! My fear is that without some of the beefing up that folks complain about, we might have had... well, I won't name and shame, but insert any number of thin-sounding electronic pop records from that period that really could have used a better engineer.

    Did they go overboard? Should the snare on Bell be reigned in? Should they have given up on what by all accounts was a tedious, torturous process and just let Robert play the damn drums already? Very possibly. But those records exist now, and many of us fell in love with them as-is. So be it.

    (I don't know when those interviews took place, but I do find it funny that Colin is still annoyed by Bruce's "not a significant contribution to 20th century culture" comment all these years later...)
  14.  
    As I mentioned in my review, I was quite struck by how I couldn't detect where Neate's sympathies lie. That we've had such divergence in interpretation really does demonstrate how much the reader brings to the text.
  15.  
    I think Wilson Neate is very even handed in the book, giving all members of the band an equal say – more or less.

    I'm enjoying the book.. but I wish there was more comment and analysis of each individual song. The general overview of the recording process as all the band members jockey for their creative position can make some of the passages a little repetitive at times. That's why it's a book for obsessive fans only.

    PS There's a terrific Wire article in the latest edition of Record Collector magazine
  16.  
    Mmmmm
    I really enjoyed the book, but whilst Wilson tries to be even handed, I think he sympathises more with Bruce's position rather than Colin's greater pragmatism.
    I have just finished CS Sansom's Dominion, which is about what may have happened if Halifax rather than Churchill became PM in 1940. This book stimulates a number of "what if" questions, that we could apply to Wire. What might have happened if they had use the showcase gigs in 1980 to demonstrate the quality of their new material, what might have been achieved if they had not taken a year zero approach when they reformed in the 1980's?
    Perhaps the view that Bruce was uncomfortable with the act of pursuing success is a key insight: irrespective of my musings maybe Bruce would never have compromised his "integrity" to seize the opportunities that Wire had, and maybe this is really what made Wire special?
    Maybe, for me, it is this unwillingness to compromise that adds to the majesty of Wire. It is instructive to hear the Marc Riley interviews and compare to Wire in 1978.
  17.  
    ...and here is a crucial question, at least for me:
    Suppose that in some parallel Universe it was EGL or
    CN who had left Wire instead of BG. Furthermore suppose
    that the other three continued as a trio (maybe by hiring a
    replacement for the ex-member) but retaining, at the same time,
    the name Wire. How many of us would have felt comfortable with that?
  18.  
    I'm not sure the band would make any sense or be viable in those scenarios. CN writes of the music and has been the strongest proponent of the band as a commercial project (as well as an art project). Wire without Colin is wholly unthinkable. Perhaps the band could continue without GL's contribution musically and as a lyricist, but that would leave the dynamic of the band as Colin, Bruce, and Rob, which is to say the two chief antagonists (however creative and constructive that antagonism has been) and a figure who seemingly stays above the fray. That, it would seem to me, would be equal parts paralyzing and combustible. Graham's non-Wire output has shown examples of both abstract/non-pop material and stuff that is more conventionally ear-friendly. Unlike Bruce, he's never been ideologically averse to the idea of commercial success. So he's someone who could serve as a bit of bridge between the two positions. (Mind you, I'm using the categories and the players fairly generally, crudely for the sake of the topic.) Without minimizing Bruce's importance one iota, his departure is the one the band could best weather.
  19.  
    Yeah, I think if anyone could've left the band and have it still continue it was Bruce. That's not to downplay his contributions but it is to say that he was more "behind the scenes" than the other members. I don't think Wire could've continued without Rob, who is just as crucial to the sound as Colin and Graham. Having another drummer would be unthinkable. I like The First Letter quite a bit but it's not a proper Wire LP.
  20.  
    Record Collector makes it one their Books of 2013.

    "Mercifully unhindered by propriety, yet with full access to Wire personnel and affiliates, Neate presents an absorbing, unsparing insight into the working practices of a band saddled from birth with an inappropriate "Punk" epither. The reader ends up applauding Wire's wilfulness".