Wire Revisits, Reissues Classic Albums
Nearly 30 years after its formation, influential rock act Wire has reissued back-to-the-basics CD versions of its first three albums and bundled them with a pair of live discs as a special edition boxNearly 30 years after its formation, influential rock act Wire has reissued back-to-the-basics CD versions of its first three albums and bundled them with a pair of live discs as a special edition box set available through the group's official Web site.
"Pink Flag" (1977), "Chairs Missing" (1978) and "154" (1979) comprise the seminal work of vocalist Colin Newman, bassist Graham Lewis, guitarist Bruce Gilbert and drummer Robert Gotobed and have served as inspiration to generations post-punk and rock musicians since. While Newman finds it hard to objectively evaluate the music himself, he tells Billboard.com he recognizes its importance to his fans and in the larger canon of rock music.
"What has happened with Wire is that it gets recontextualized by each generation as it goes along," he says. "There are bands now, like the Futureheads in the U.K., who are taking Wire as their history. It means something different every time around. In the '70s, it was regarded as rock, but I think it has been made into pop."
The three albums will be available in U.S. stores individually as remastered Digipak versions via Wire's own Pink Flag label. EMI is handling similar Digipak releases overseas, except in Japan, where EMI Japan has its own versions.
"We asked and got to be the American licensee for this ourselves," Newman says of the Pink Flag label, through which he oversaw the release of the newest Wire album, "Send," in 2003. "It's very gratifying."
"Something has happened to those releases that they've stayed relevant, appealing to generations of artists and music fans, so it seemed like it would work to strip back the audio to the original LP versions, remaster it to bring them up to today's sound and repackage them to make them appealing to someone who had the original vinyl," he adds.
Also geared toward longtime fans are two live documents included with the box set. "Live at the Roxy, London: April 1st & 2nd 1977" contains the first recordings of Wire as a four-piece band, taped five months before the "Pink Flag" sessions, while "Live at CBGB Theatre, New York -- July 18th 1978" preserves a radio broadcast from the "Chairs Missing" era.
Although Wire regrouped earlier in the decade for a handful of new releases and the occasional tour, the band is not currently working on any new material.
"These reissues should have happened two or three years ago and been roughly contemporary with 'Send,'" Newman says. "But EMI is a rather slow, giant company. I wish I could tell you that the new single is coming out next week, but it's not. And that's life."