WIRE – ” 10-20 “

Posted: June 20, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

Wire have never been ones for looking back. When they reformed in the ’80s they got a Wire cover band, Ex Lion Tamers, to open for them on tour so they wouldn’t have to play songs from their first three albums. When they do revist older material, they are prone to transforming it, like on 1989’s IBTABA. Forty-plus years into their existence they’re still doing it. Having already released a new studio album this year, they’re back with new-album “10:20″ that is based on this premise:
When Wire plays live there are, in the main, three classes of piece: 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 reworked songs on 10:20 represent Wire from two different eras — one relating to Red Barked Tree and recorded in 2010, and another relating to Mind Hive and released in 2020. The album works both as terrific new record and one that will be especially of interest to fans. This was originally intended as a Record Store Day 2020 exclusive but when COVID-19 messed everything up, they smartly decided to give it a proper release.

The first four songs, from 2010, are from when Margaret Fielder (of Laika) was a member of the group. “Boiling Boy,” originally on 1988’s A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck, becomes lean and sinewy, slithering like a moray eel along to Graham Lewis’ bassline and Robert Grey’s precision drumming. “German Shepherds,” a b-side from the same era that was already reworked for IBTABA, now becomes a second cousin twice removed to 154’s “Map Ref. 41°N 93°W.” “He Knows,” a song that was a late-’00s live staple that never made it to an album, is Wire in creepy mode; and “Underwater Experiences” is full-on punk, that actually dates from their ’70s era, powered by an ambulance siren guitar riff.

The 2020 side features the Wire line-up that’s been constant for the last 10 years (Newman, Lewis, Grey and former It Hugs Back frontman Matthew Simms). “Over Theirs,” originally on 1986’s great The Ideal Copy, becomes a piledriver; “The Art of Persistence,” which could be the title of Wire’s biography, is another great “lost” song; and “Small Black Reptile” saves a great song from 1990’s uninspired Manscape, giving it a much more immediate arrangement (two two versions might as well be totally different songs.

Despite the two sides being made a decade apart, “10:20″ holds together remarkably well and is another fine entry in one of the most consistent discographies of the last 43 years.

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