Photo by Phil Sharp
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
Building on the advances of The Velvet Underground, Can, and Brian Eno, Wire created one of the most important bodies of work in underground rock history. Overstating their influence is difficult; hardcore punk royalty, alt-rock pioneers, and shoegaze legends alike have covered them. More importantly, they inspired virtually every post-punk band on both sides of the Atlantic, presaged a number of minimalist dance sub-genres, and clearly informed the fractured, cryptic spirit of ’90s indie. The recent release of their self-titled, 14th studio LP offers an occasion to look back at the legacy of a band that’s only continued to push forward over the years.
There are at least three distinct stages in Wire’s lifespan. The first and most legendary era spanned from 1976 to 1980 and saw the release of the classic albums Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154 (plus a few excellent singles). After a half-decade hiatus, the band regrouped in the mid-‘80s and began moving in an increasingly electronic, dance-oriented direction before disbanding during the early ‘90s. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, Wire reassembled yet again to begin its third stage, which extends up to the present and has found the band applying new technology and a fuller sound to old concepts and material.
This list, which draws from all three eras, is an attempt to explore the key facets of one of underground rock’s most significant bands.