Turns and Strokes
If you didn't find Document and Eyewitness a particularly endearing album the prospect of hearing the bits that were surgically removed from that release, along with some other lo-fi Wire recordings, will hardly fill you with glee. But that is what's on offer here: bits from bootlegs, out-takes from the earlier Rough Trade LP, and a couple of other curiosities.
The first two tracks—the punkish Safe and thoughtful Lorries—are good, but better versions exist on various Colin Newman albums released over a decade ago. A Panamanian Craze is at least a previously unheard curiosity, showing Wire grappling with the then-new technology of a drum machine and adding layers of discordant sounds to the mix. It's all a bit cheerless and gloomy but serves to highlight Wire's ability to adapt and may be interesting to the seasoned fan to hear a work-in-progress.
However, it's mostly downhill from there. The next three tracks—taken from the Jeanette Cochrane shows—are of such low audio quality that it's difficult to make out the music from the fuzz and their inclusion seems pointless. We are then subjected to the full parody of 12XU that was mercifully cut from Document and Eyewitness, along with three other tracks from that gig.
The final two tracks are the flip side to 1983's Crazy About Love and are much better. Second Length is a speeded up take of Our Swimmer, which is fun (if a little throwaway) and Catapult 30 is an interesting track reminiscent of Dome, built on a loop of 'To swim and to swim'.
Die-hard Wire fans out for the complete collection or ardent fans of Document and Eyewitness will find something here, but few others will; realistically this one is for completists and trainspotters only.
Craig Grannell (1998)