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The Peel Sessions

The typical Wire fan must have thought the band's Peel Sessions a frightening experience. Whereas most bands used the sessions to parade current hits or do a few slightly experimental versions of tracks from a previous album, Wire used them as another way of showcasing new material.

This album finds Wire a more fragile entity away from Mike Thorne, producing a sound that is not unlike a minimalist combination of the EMI albums and its live takes. Some actually outshine the later EMI versions such as I am the Fly, complete with unusual guitar noises throughout, and the speeded up (and thereby honed down) 106 Beats That.

Even the less successful tracks are of interest. The early version of The Other Window presented here sounds most curious—a kind of aggressive Madness—and while Wire may have forgotten its artistic sensibility with the lyrically and musically awkward Culture Vultures, it at least manages to put a raison d'etre across: 'What we do is what we do...'.

The Peel Session from 1979 must have turned heads 180 degrees. Instead of the usual four songs, Wire offered one sound piece—Crazy About Love—that had grown out of improvisations in rehearsal. Lewis announces 'A group of flies make a staunch denial whilst fiddling the weights' before the quartet delve into a murky and uncomfortable soundscape that lasts a full 15 minutes.

Some Peel Sessions are throwaway companions to a band's best work but this release is different—it's an interesting alternative slant on Wire.

Craig Grannell (1998)

Cover artwork