Pink Flag (Special Edition Reissue)


Jun 13, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Find It At: AMAZON

Wire were signed by Harvest Records in the initial feeding frenzy of UK punk rock. They were probably expecting another band of snotty ne'er-do-wells, trotting out powerchord laden, angst-athons with a permanent sneer on their collective face. What they got was far more. A few songs on Pink Flag almost adhere to that template"Start To Move," "Brazil," and "It's So Obvious" sound as 1977 as Sex Pistols/The Clash/et all, but the lyrics hint at something else. Something more...cerebral. That said, the lyrics to "Mr. Suit" are almost a punk rock pastiche with its judicious and plentiful use of the "F" word.

It was clear, even at this early stage that Wire had something going for them that was at right angles to the prevailing distorted strummage trotted out by the rest of the class of '77. "Strange" (famously covered by R.E.M. on their 1987 album Document), lopes along at a leisurely pace and "Three Girl Rhumba," in spite of being based on the most primal of chord progressions, unfolds in a fascinating fashion and uses syncopation in a way that most of their contemporaries would never even consider.

For this contemporary reissue, on the band's own pinkflag label, the original album's 21 tracks (yep21 tracksthese boys were obviously not fans of Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans) are augmented by another 18 demos and alternative mixes. Some are more interesting than others. The number of people whose lives will be significantly improved by owning the mono mixes of "12XU" and "Mannequin" is probably quite small, but here they are. Some of the demos do have a different manic energy to the versions that ended up on the original record. The demo version of "Pink Flag" is worth the price of the whole package though-it sounds as if the producer rolled the tape and didn't tell the band, who finally tumble into the tune in a rather charming and ramshackle fashion. 

As debut records go, Pink Flag is one of the most distinctive. It manages to sound exactly like a record made by dissatisfied refuseniks in 1977 should sound, but it also hints at something way more interesting. File under "Endless Potential". (www.pinkflag.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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