The A List
'Best-of' albums are usually compiled on the basis of chart success, but what do you do in the case of a band such as Wire that had no chart hits at all? Mute's answer was to ask various compilers and collaborators to name their top 21 tracks from this period of Wire's history in order of preference. These were then arranged in order and the first 74 minutes made it onto the CD.
Of the 16 tracks on offer the tail end of Wire's Mute run fares pretty badly, and the bulk of the CD is made up from The Ideal Copy and A Bell is a Cup until it is Struck. In fact, nine of these tracks can be found on the CD issue of The Ideal Copy putting a question mark over The A List's value. As an introduction to the band it might be worth getting, but for anyone who already has the Mute albums this is a waste of time. Only the appearance of the 7" version of In Vivo—a dramatic improvement over the IBTABA version—gives this release any real merit.
If you're looking for rarities or a good way to hear Wire's development during their Mute years you'd be far better off going for WMO's Coatings. New fans might find something of worth here, but when you consider the fact that you can buy The Ideal Copy and A Bell is a Cup... for the same price as this CD you'll understand why The A List doesn't come recommended.
Craig Grannell (1998)