Wire - 154 (1979) (1 Viewer)

rettucs

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I agree with Lili. It's great but it's not really what I want to be listening to these days. I haven't the time to be writing long posts these days but I wanted to stick in my 2c.

I'm familiar with wire since the mid-to-late 00s and have dipped in and out since then. I bought some kind of early years collection (with a grey cover) and loved it. The first actual album I Iistened to wasn't for a few more years, when Red Barked Trees came out. I really like that album, and went to see them in Whelans on the back of it. That gig was fairly notable for them having a massive row on-stage, and storming off. About 10 minutes later they re-emerged, apologised, and got on with it. Great gig too (cheers to Fin in MCD for sticking me on the guestlist for that one!)

I've dipped in and out of their other stuff over the years. 154 would be one I'd know slightly better than most others. My opinion of it has always been, starts great, dips a bit, one or 2 more bangers, but generally lose interest by the end.

It starts to feel a bit long once you hit the last 2/3 songs.

Agreed on The 15th. Great song. My favs were always A Mutual Friend and I Should Have Known Better.

5/5 but give me a condensed 7 or 8 track version of it any day. A Tomson original, if such a thing exists.
 

rettucs

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Last two reviews are strange: “I am obliged to give this a perfect score but it’s actually a drag”.
that sums up my attitude to music these days. No enthusiasm to listen to a lot of stuff I loved to listen to in the past. The fact I have no appetite for it now is no reason to say that I think it's anything other than great. It was great then, it's still great now. The difference is me, not the album.
 

Lili Marlene

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I was listening to the last episode of Chart Music there today and they were talking about this song on Top of the Pops, and how at the time it had a context of what was going on in the music papers at the time; all the post-punk talk of stripping things down, rewriting pop music and all these art school ideas, it was very in the air and a lot of music fans were engaged with this stuff, enough to make it a hit. As a song it's a largely forgotten now probably because it doesn't have a huge chorus and when a new generation come to these things with no context they'll just judge it based on whether or not it moves them immediately.

All of that is to say that when I listen to Wire I am aware that they are part of that huge conversation that was going on amongst a relatively small but big enough dedicated core group of music fans, and while I might not myself get a load from listening to this album there was a context at the time that is now gone (music journalism nowadays is just patronizingly explaining the correct way of listening).

So that is why I can give this album 5/5 and still say it's not really for me.
 
Last edited:

nuke terrorist

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the On The Box DVD / CD came out in 2004,
so just prior to the start of YouTube anything like this was an
essential buy e.g. DVD collections of DEVO and CABARET
VOLTAIRE early videos came out about the same time.

the Rockpalast TV concert was recorded in Cologne/Koln in
February 1979 several months before the 154 sessions.
i love this and it's actually the WIRE recording i've listened
to the most.
Alan Bangs the presenter seems to have got them on the show.
he was also on British Forces Broadcast Service Radio in Germany
but like the John Peel show broadcast in Germany it was in reality
was for the benefit of German kids rather than music loving soldiers.

a lot of these early versions of these songs sound markedly different
the 154 versions.
i'm going to pick out a few those tracks:
(bear with me i'm going somewhere with this)

'40 Versions' sounds great here (above)

they also do several more 154 tracks in the concert.

also want to mention the version of Mercy (Chairs Missing)
which is awesome. blows away the album version.
the intro to this is hair raising - G'wan Robert.

Cologne's neighbouring city Dusseldorf had perhaps the best
punk scene in West Germany at the time.
WIRE had maybe the biggest influence then in Dusseldorf.

MITTAGSPAUSE (Lunchbreak) did two records and several members
went on to better known bands after.
this is their first release (1979) a 10 song double 7" :
the songs are almost URINALS level simple at times.
this contains an early version Militurk aka Kebabtraume
a song parodying ignorant attitudes to Turks and East Germans.

a big step forward from the from the same year was the brilliant
single 'Herrenreiter'
PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS ! if you don't know it.

(reminds me slightly of 'I feel Mysterious Today')

after splitting several of them formed FEHLFARBEN (colour printing mistake)
FEHLFARBEN's debut LP - Monarchie und Alltag (EMI, 1980)
is a landmark LP of German rock having steadily sold several
hundred thousand copies.
heavily under the influence of WIRE but with some odd twists like
a ska song and a novelty CHIC style song that later became a hit
in 1982 Ein Jahr (released without band's permission as 7").
great LP, lots of cool songs, more direct than WIRE.

despite this records status in Germany it was never released in
English speaking world and i was so stuck trying to locate a copy
that i succumbed to ordering it off Amazon (yucko ! fuck Bezos).


singer Peter Hein left after the debut LP and the band did two
weaker commercial LP's before disbanding (and later reformed).

Kurt Dahlke aka (electronic musician) PYROLATOR appears
on the final track.
Dahlke was also a founder member of DAF and played on their first LP
Gabi Delgado-Lopez had also sung backing vocals for MITTAGSPAUSE
before he formed DAF.

the live tracks on the second DAF LP Die Kleinen und die Bosen (1980)
were recorded supporting WIRE at the one of the concerts on the
Document and Eyewitness Live LP (Electric Ballroom, London early 1980)
i think was the first album Mute ever released ??
these live tracks are great - love Gabi's singing here
this is my fave period of this band.

Michael Kemner who plays bass on this joined FEHLFARBEN afterwards
and plays on Monarchie ... LP.

am i able to digress or am i able to digress ?
 
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rettucs

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the On The Box DVD / CD came out in 2004,
so just prior to the start of YouTube anything like this was an
essential buy e.g. DVD collections of DEVO and CABARET
VOLTAIRE early videos came out about the same time.

the Rockpalast TV concert was recorded in Cologne/Koln in
February 1979 several months before the 154 sessions.
i love this and it's actually the WIRE recording i've listened
to the most.
Alan Bangs the presenter seems to have got them on the show.
he was also on British Forces Broadcast Service Radio in Germany
but like the John Peel show broadcast in Germany it was in reality
was for the benefit of German kids rather than music loving soldiers.

a lot of these early versions of these songs sound markedly different
the 154 versions.
i'm going to pick out a few those tracks:
(bear with me i'm going somewhere with this)

'40 Versions' sounds great here (above)

they also do several more 154 tracks in the concert.

also want to mention the version of Mercy (Chairs Missing)
which is awesome. blows away the album version.
the intro to this is hair raising - G'wan Robert.

Cologne's neighbouring city Dusseldorf had perhaps the best
punk scene in West Germany at the time.
WIRE had maybe the biggest influence then in Dusseldorf.

MITTAGSPAUSE (Lunchbreak) did two records and several members
went on to better known bands after.
this is their first release (1979) a 10 song double 7" :
the songs are almost URINALS level simple at times.
this contains an early version Militurk aka Kebabtraume
a song parodying ignorant attitudes to Turks and East Germans.

a big step forward from the from the same year was the brilliant
single 'Herrenreiter'
PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS ! if you don't know it.

(reminds me slightly of 'I feel Mysterious Today')

after splitting several of them formed FEHLFARBEN (colour printing mistake)
FEHLFARBEN's debut LP - Monarchie und Alltag (EMI, 1980)
is a landmark LP of German rock having steadily sold several
hundred thousand copies.
heavily under the influence of WIRE but with some odd twists like
a ska song and a novelty CHIC style song that later became a hit
in 1982 Ein Jahr (released without band's permission as 7").
great LP, lots of cool songs, more direct than WIRE.

despite this records status in Germany it was never released in
English speaking world and i was so stuck trying to locate a copy
that i succumbed to ordering it off Amazon (yucko ! fuck Bezos).


singer Peter Hein left after the debut LP and the band did two
weaker commercial LP's before disbanding (and later reformed).

Kurt Dahlke aka (electronic musician) PYROLATOR appears
on the final track.
Dahlke was also a founder member of DAF and played on their first LP
Gabi Delgado-Lopez had also sung backing vocals for MITTAGSPAUSE
before he formed DAF.

the live tracks on the second DAF LP Die Kleinen und die Bosen (1980)
were recorded supporting WIRE at the one of the concerts on the
Document and Eyewitness Live LP (Electric Ballroom, London early 1980)
i think was the first album Mute ever released ??
these live tracks are great - love Gabi's singing here
this is my fave period of this band.

Michael Kemner who plays bass on this joined FEHLFARBEN afterwards
and plays on Monarchie ... LP.

am i able to digress or am i able to digress ?
my kinda digression! Just checked out one of those german vids. Will be back for more later cos it sounded great.
 

Diumraid

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Had to throw in my tuppence ha'penny on this.
1. The album is worth the price of admission for 'A Touching Display' alone. I have never heard such a beautiful maelstrom.
2. It has 'The 15th'
3. Everything else
4. The run of albums from Pink Flag to 154 is among the most amazing arcs of evolution of a band in a remarkably small timeframe - totally inspiring (cf the first three Meat Puppets albums for a similar trajectory).
It landed like a bomb in my little world
 

Burgerbarbaby

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am i able to digress or am i able to digress ?
You sure are! Great post. I'm listening to the Mittagspause one now, worth the recommendation. I know very little NDW stuff apart from Joachim Witt and a few others, and similarly little good German punk apart from Die Ärtzte, your stuff on this recently has been really informative.
 

Burgerbarbaby

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Had to throw in my tuppence ha'penny on this.
1. The album is worth the price of admission for 'A Touching Display' alone. I have never heard such a beautiful maelstrom.
2. It has 'The 15th'
3. Everything else
4. The run of albums from Pink Flag to 154 is among the most amazing arcs of evolution of a band in a remarkably small timeframe - totally inspiring (cf the first three Meat Puppets albums for a similar trajectory).
It landed like a bomb in my little world
My god, they're so gifted
 

nuke terrorist

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You sure are! Great post. I'm listening to the Mittagspause one now, worth the recommendation. I know very little NDW stuff apart from Joachim Witt and a few others, and similarly little good German punk apart from Die Ärtzte, your stuff on this recently has been really informative.
Thanks! another band I only found out about last year in the Dusseldorf post punk universe was MAU MAU who released one flop LP in 1982 on Polydor. the band featured Michael Kemner (ex DAF and FEHLFARBEN) and Wolfgang Spelmanns (ex DAF)
their LP can be picked up for about 15 euro but isn't quite as good as their other bands
 

Burgerbarbaby

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Thanks! another band I only found out about last year in the Dusseldorf post punk universe was MAU MAU who released one flop LP in 1982 on Polydor. the band featured Michael Kemner (ex DAF and FEHLFARBEN) and Wolfgang Spelmanns (ex DAF)
their LP can be picked up for about 15 euro but isn't quite as good as their other bands
As it happens, I know that Mau Mau stuff very well, the drummer from Can plays trumpet on a couple of tunes. Spellmans had another project who only released 1 12", but it's great dark synthpop. You may know it already, but just in case,


The only other punky stuff i know from Köln / Düsseldorf is Zeltinger Band, good fun. Important among other things because their singer was gay and out of the closet early on. There's a Can connection there too, which is why I know them.


Wire though, ha? Great stuff
 

nuke terrorist

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Cheers BBB - never remotely heard of either band before.
what's the Zeltinger band song about?
the Mungersdorfer Stadion was opened in that Koln district in 1975.
I think it was rebuilt on the same spot for the 2006 World Cup when running tracks went out of fashion.
F.C. Koln were a major force in German football until the 90's playing in European comps most seasons
but then they really faded away and were relegated several times since.

in my early years on the 'net I found this 2002 comp which gives a good overview of West German post punk:
I never actually owned this comp but it gave me a list of new names to to check out. at least half these I never heard of until then.
I heard this listening to 30 second clips on amazon (but not buying anything) in the pre youtube days.
very handy for listening to grindcore albums nearly in their entirety.
 

Burgerbarbaby

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Cheers BBB
(y)
what's the Zeltinger band song about?
I really don't know...my German is weak, and the other thing about Zeltinger Band is that Jürgen Zeltinger sings in Kölsch, a challenging enough dialect with loads of familiar words spelled and pronounced differently, and lots of completely different words for familiar things.
I heard this listening to 30 second clips on amazon (but not buying anything) in the pre youtube days.
very handy for listening to grindcore albums nearly in their entirety.
Ha, that's perfect
 

taubstumm

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I remember reading a thing about early Minor Threat — I think it might have been in Michael Azzerad’s Our Band could be your Life — where there is a story about them playing some hardcore gig along with eight or nine other bands.

each band gets up and plays their set. and every single band, including minor threat, has a wire cover in their set. completely unintentionally. so that really gives an inkling of the depth of influence that wire had on all the early american hardcore punk kids. I remember thinking that it seemed like a glimpse into a parallel universe, because by the time I started listening to any american hardcore, so much of it was just derivative crap, but at the beginning, they were really paying extremely close attention to what the english art-school weirdos were up to.
 

taubstumm

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also, 154 is very much the peak of wire-the-art-project. four people basically thinking of themselves as a shared conceptual art performance that took the form of a band. it’s something I was reminded of recently when I was looking at a video of talking heads from 1976 on the website of the kitchen, in new york, which included a photo of the original press release for the gig. The image is a charming piece of retro arcana in its own right, but is also interesting for this line: “Talking Heads is a group of performing artists whose medium is rock and roll music and its pursuant “band” organisation and visual presentation.” Probably a bit more pretentiously (or ironically) stated, but same basic order-of-priorities as late-70s wire.

TalkingHeads_PR_detail2.png
 

taubstumm

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Here‘s the link for that — gotta scroll down a bit. unfortunately the video of the gig was only up for a short while, but the press release image is still there.

 

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