Wire

154 (Special Edition Reissue)

pinkflag

Jun 13, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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In 1979, Wire were young men in a hurry. 154 was their third album. Their third album in two years. And just to make life even more interesting, each album is significantly different to the last. This long awaited reissue contains a further 27 demos and rarities which serve as a  testament to their prodigious output. One can imagine the trepidation with which a Wire fan would enter a record store to pick up their new release.

On 154, the band had settled, for the most part, on an atmospheric and low-key approach. Their previous album, Chairs Missing, had a whiff of the gothic about it and this album refines that sound into a harsh, crystalline thing. By now, Wire were rubbing shoulders with Magazine, Joy Division, and The Cure in terms of intensity of approach, which is most evident on the relentless bleakness of "A Touching Display."

What holds back 154 from the heights of Chairs Missing and Pink Flag is the fact that it's lacking in the off-kilter eclecticism that made its predecessors so distinctive. It may seem crazy to criticise an album for sounding cohesive, but it's true. There are far few "what the hell?" moments on this record than Wire fans were used to. They are there, in the form of the "The 15th," twhich is another power-pop gem in the same vein as "Outdoor Miner." It's a hit that never was. The same could be said for the enigmatically titled "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W," which is another richly melodic and memorable, should-have-been smash. "Once is Enough" is a punk rock throwback, but it doesn't burn as brightly as some of the material on the first two records. And there's the rub. If 154 had been Wire's first album, we'd be showering it with praise, but unfortunately, we've been spoiled by albums one and two. We were expecting more.

154 was the last album before a hiatus which saw a flurry of solo projects before they regrouped in 1985 to start another phase of their fascinating career. That phase was of course, entirely different to their previous work. What we have to remember is that Wire don't make records to please the publicthey make the art which they're driven to make. Sometimes however, those things are in alignment. With 154, that doesn't quite happen. (www.pinkflag.com)

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RepRightSongs
June 13th 2018
7:23am

Wow, 1979. I wish I lived my 20s during that time because the sound of music during that time when it was first coming out was off the hook I bet. I was actually born in 1985 unfortunately so I was unable like many others to grow up to the music back then. My generation does like the 70s and 80s music which says a lot about how music evolved during that time frame