Pink Flag Records
Wire - 10:20 - New LP
Regular price $ 26.00
10:20 Review by Heather Phares: In 2020, Wire fans were lucky enough to get not one but two potent reminders of the band's consistent greatness. The first was that January's Mind Hive, which proved their political statements and sharply honed post-punk were just as relevant then as when they formed over 40 years prior. The next was 10:20, a collection of reimagined rarities and live favorites that felt just as fresh, even though its recordings spanned the 2010s and its material stretched all the way back to 1978's Chairs Missing. Wire took a similar approach and also struck gold with 2013's Change Becomes Us, which found them revisiting songs they'd played live in 1979 and 1980. This time, the particulars of each track are more complex; Wire wrote the slow-burning "He Knows" in 2000 when Bruce Gilbert was still a member of the band, it became a staple of their live show in 2008, and the recording that appears here dates from 2010 sessions with Laika's Margaret Fiedler. No matter how convoluted the histories of these songs are, they all make the most of Wire's evergreen strengths. "German Shepherds," originally from 1989's It's Beginning to and Back Again, is a fine example of their slanted guitar pop, as is "The Art of Persistence," a circa-2000 rarity that wouldn't have sounded out of place on either 154 or Mind Hive. The band's blazing punk is as vital as ever on the Chairs Missing leftover "Underwater Experiences," while Fiedler adds her six strings to the triple-guitar onslaught of "Burning Boy" (originally from A Bell Is a Cup…Until It Is Struck), and the 1985 vintage "Over Theirs" is remade with the slow, ominous grind Wire perfected years later. Other standouts include "Small Black Reptile," which the band transforms from synth pop into something in between psych-rock and shoegaze (and boasts some of Colin Newman's most playfully deadpan vocals) and "Wolf Collides," an eerily poignant Silver/Lead outtake that's just as compelling as anything that ended up on the album. Hearing Wire riff on their past and present so brilliantly makes 10:20 both a dream come true for longtime fans and a surprisingly good introduction to their music for newcomers.
Originally scheduled for RSD 2020, the Pink Flag label decided to make 10:20 a regular LP/CD release.
Item will ship to you on Friday-- 6/19/2020
WIRE - 10:20
WIRE have never been a band to rest on their laurels. Indeed, their forward facing aesthetic is matched only by their industriousness. A scant five months after the release of the widely acclaimed Mind Hive (“Sinewy, stripped-back, fearful — and beautiful” — The Guardian), Wire return with 10:20, a special release originally planned for the cancelled Record Store Day 2020.
Wire are Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey and Matthew Simms, and together they have served up a collection that morphs from bright psychedelic pop to pummelling noise — with several detours along the way.
10:20 also thrives on its own perverse logic. Herein are songs the band refers to as ‘strays’. These are recordings of pieces that couldn’t be accommodated on regular albums, as well as compositions that, following their original studio recording, evolved substantially through live performance, and so deserved a new life on record.
A glimpse into Wire's working practices, when Wire play live there are different 3 classes of pieces that are performed, new songs, old songs and 'new old' songs. The latter often involves taking something that existed on a previous release and re-working it, very often evolving a stage highlight from it. There also pieces that have never seen a major release but for some reason never fitted on an album. The best of these ideas were recorded in 2 sessions - one relating to Red Barked Tree but recorded in 2010 and another relating to Wire's latest album Mind Hive released in 2020. Incidentally celebrating the decade Matt Simms has been with the band. The album divides into two halves - the 2010 side & the 2020 side - hence the title.
Tracks 1 to 4 were recorded in the latter part of 2010 and feature contributions from both Margaret Fielder (of Laika) — who had been performing guitar duties with Wire on live dates the previous year — and Simms, who was on the point of becoming an official member of the band.
1. ‘Boiling Boy’ first appeared on 1988’s A Bell is a Cup... Until it is Struck. The original studio outing had a smooth sheen that only hinted at the jagged joys to come. ‘Boiling Boy’ has gone on to become perhaps the most played Wire song ever. Throughout the ’00s, it became one of the acknowledged highlights of Wire’s live sets. Here, that arrangement can be heard in all its studio finery. Grey’s precise motorik drumming and Lewis’s muscular bass line create a machine with an unstoppable momentum, while Newman, Simms and Fielder weave a thick web of guitar textures.
2. ‘German Shepherds’ is another late ’80s Wire song that has developed a second life on stage. One of Lewis’s most immediate yet most enigmatic lyrics is set in a sparkling up-tempo arrangement that exploits the possibilities of the rhythm guitar. The recording is also notable in that it includes vocal contributions from Newman, Lewis and Fielder. ‘German Shepherds’ represents Wire at their most optimistic and summery. And yet, even here there is a slanted strangeness at the heart of their sound.
3. ‘He Knows’ was developed back in 2000 when Bruce Gilbert was still with the band. It emerged in a reinvigorated form in 2008 when it became a staple of Wire’s live show. This is the only studio recording to have surfaced. A Wire song with an atypical structure, ‘He Knows’ is a slow-paced piece built around tension and release. Newman’s vocal is cool and restrained until the keening chorus, which blossoms with its repeated refrain of “We’re hypnotised...” Here, as elsewhere, Wire prove that their particular brand of art-rock is also rich in emotion.
4. ‘Underwater Experiences’ was demoed for the band’s sophomore album Chairs Missing, but in the end was omitted. Having lay dormant for a couple of years, the song later appeared in two fast, abrasive, contrasting versions on Wire’s notoriously confrontational live album Document And Eyewitness, and a fifth iteration surfaced on 2013’s Change Becomes Us. However, the song has never sounded quite as it does here. With its hectic but precise pell-mell of scything guitars and kick drum, ‘Underwater Experiences’ is 10:20’s most intense entry.
Tracks 5 to 8 were recorded more recently with the long-established line up of Newman, Lewis, Grey and Simms.
5. ‘The Art of Persistence’ arrived fully formed when Wire reconvened in 2000. But it was previously only available as a rehearsal room run-through on long deleted EP The Third Day or as a live version on Legal Bootleg album Recycling Sherwood Forest. Here, the song receives the full studio treatment as the group transforms it into a piece of spacious guitar pop with an edge of unease. Grey’s drumming is crisp and urgent, and Newman’s calm, confident vocal belies the lyric’s nervous uncertainty. What emerges is a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on 1979’s 154.
6. ‘Small Black Reptile’ originally appeared on the band’s 1990 album Manscape. Of all the reimagined songs on 10:20, this is the one that has traveled the furthest. Whereas the original was a skeletal and arch computer-driven pop song, this new version sees the composition retooled as a piece of melodic rock. Here, Wire sound like a smart psychedelic beat group with Matt Simms’ guitar essaying a cocksure swagger.
7. ‘Wolf Collides’, with its warm synth tones and spindly lead lines, sounds as if it deserves to be sitting regally on side two of 1978’s Chairs Missing. In actual fact, it was written in 2015 and became a stalwart of that year’s live set. This version was recorded for inclusion on 2017’s Silver/Lead but was omitted due to lack of space. Here, another witty off-centre Lewis lyric is threaded through a soundscape where mystery and enigma mutate into a becalmed haze. It may just be 10:20’s finest moment.
8.‘Over Theirs’ is the climax of the continuing reassessment of Wire’s 1980s output. Although the song appeared on The Ideal Copy and has been an intermittent component of the group’s live shows since 1985, its true power had never been properly harnessed in the studio — until now. If this near nine-minute sonic behemoth is defined by its dense guitars and strict drum pattern, then the rich, languorous mesh of drones that rounds off both the song and album proves once again how adept Wire are at discovering beauty in unexpected places.
10:20 is that rare thing: an album that not only serves as a must-have for long-term fans and completists, but that’s paradoxically also the perfect introduction for anyone new to the band.
CD ALBUM (PF26CD)
12" VINYL ALBUM (PF26LP)