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Pink Flag

music reviewmusic reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Pink Flag

Artist: Wire
Genre: Punk
Release Date: December 1977

Review by Mark Fleming
4 stars out of 4

When this album was first released in 1977, the initial notoriety of Punk Rock had subsided to the extent that short-haired bands yelping about boredom and anarchy were practically mainstream. Wire, a quartet from the English Home Counties, were very different. For one thing, they didn't adopt faux-Cockney accents for street credibility. Also, they sometimes played slow songs. For them, 'experimental' wasn't a musical term that had been consigned to the bin. If anything it was their defining hallmark.

Pink Flag opens with a dense, churning piece called 'Reuters', featuring a press release from an un-named war zone, culminating in vocalist Colin Newman endlessly repeating the phrase 'Rape.' Amongst a sea of Clash-copycats, here was a 'Punk' band commenting on the nullifying effect of tabloid journalism. But just in case you were anticipating a sequence of tracks that were too big for their boots, this was followed by 'Field Day for the Sundays'. Track time: 28 seconds.

The album merges slowly-bludgeoning wall-of-sound pieces and punky thrashes into one mesmerizing flow. Along the way we are treated to the sublimely atmospheric 'Strange', complete with strangled flute accompaniment (later covered by R.E.M.),Wire's debut single, 'Mannequin', brilliantly off-setting a catchy chorus with terse put-down lyrics, and its B-side, the furious 3-chord dragster race of '12XU'. For music compiled nearly a quarter of a century ago Wire's Pink Flag still seems curiously ahead of its time. The re-mastered CD featuring the plain blue cover with the lone pink standard is one British rock band staking a claim on originality.



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