In Praise of The Pink Flag

Firstly, awfully sorry for the lapse in posting! I’ve been very busy with work and general life stuff, and after my summer hiatus, I never really got going again – but then again the initial 2 to 3 posts a day work rate was never going to last.  And, apology over with, I want to talk about a band who have become one of my favorites over the years.

Wire.

Now, before you accuse me of indulging myself in a post-Christmas nostalgia-fest, the London-based art punks have actually been hard at it, even recently.  A new LP, ‘Change Becomes Us‘, is due for release in March 2013.  Messrs Newman, Lewis and Grey [minus Mr Gilbert] have, it seems, put together a new album at last – their first since 2010’s ‘Red Barked Tree’.

Going right back to the truly prehistoric period of 1977, when it seemed that every man jack was about to release a single or album riding on the crest of the previous year’s Punk cultural tsunami, Wire put out the truly confounding – and outstanding – ‘Pink Flag’.  The title alone – was it a play on the iconography of the still-taboo gay community? – stood out like a sore…..thumb.  The content – kicked off with the still awesome ‘Reuters’ – took you on a journey you simply didn’t expect.  Solid, punk-influenced [yet, tantalisingly still not really punk] foundations gave way to music that betrayed a million bedroom-based influences; everything from Beefheart to Can, meshed together with the headiness of the art punk excitement of the time.  Whatever the fuck ‘art punk’ means.

The thing that had me coming back again – ‘Object 47’, ‘Red Barked Tree’ and the part live epic ‘Send’ – was the sheer schizophrenic pinballing that these three skinny guys seemed to perform.  One minute terrace chanting [1-2-X-U – covered by amongst others Serious Drinking and Minor Threat], the next crafting soothing, yet spikily worded ballads [Bad Worn Thing], the band seemed to be playing with the idea of conventional music like a cat with a toy mouse.  Ever creative, my sense of excitement at novelty keeps me hooked.

Often derided for being Stone Roses-like in the gaps between their output, they were in fact prolific – although their busts of creativity seemed to last about four albums before they took a well earned 10-year break each time.  And now they’re back – and I’m looking forward to seeing these three balding, grey haired survivors top their last effort.  Confounding expectations, they seem to become more nimble and playful each time.  Here’s to Wire, and 2013.

As the Wright brothers correctly point out, Old is The New Young!