Wire – Pink Flag (Harvest; 1977)

18 Jul





“The album Pink Flag by Wire is an enigma. It was made in 1977 when punk was just starting to explore the airwaves, yet it sounds nothing like the material being made by it’s punk brethren. Yes, this is a punk album, but not as you know it. Yes, it has the short, blazing songs, but there are also slow, angular breaks.”

-Sputnik Music

“”Three Girl Rhumba” is the song that brought Wire some renewed attention in the ’90s, after Elastica aped its riff for their hit “Connection.” Though Wire’s original, by comparison, is rougher, less straightforward and, of course, artsier. “Ex-Lion Tamer” is the first instance of a “single” sounding song, choruses and all. Referencing the Lone Ranger and Tonto, the song culminates in a refrain of “stay glued to your TV set.” Wire even got funky when they wanted to, as on the lazy “Lowdown” and “Strange,” which was later covered by REM on their Document album. One aspect, of note, about “Strange” is the…well… “strange” warbling sound near the end of the song. Producer Mike Thorne recorded his flute teacher playing ten alto flutes, simultaneously, a semitone apart. The end result is the unsettling noise you hear on the album.”


“Pink Flag was a fractured snapshot of punk alternately collapsing in on itself and exploding into song-fragment shrapnel. The record’s minimalist approach means the band spends only as much time as needed on each song– five of them are over in less than a minute, while a further nine don’t make it past two. It’s clear you’re not getting a typical 1977 punk record from the opening seconds of “Reuters”, an echoing bass line that quickly comes under attack by ringing but dissonant guitar chords. The tempo is arrested, lurching along to the climactic finale when Colin Newman, as the narrating correspondent, shouts “Looting! Burning!” and then holds out the lone syllable of “rape” twice over descending chords, which grind to a halt over chanting voices. It’s all the bombast, tension, and release of a side-long prog opus in just three minutes.”


“This first-generation U.K. punk band made sparse tunes that erupted in combustible snippets on its 21-track debut album. The curt mania of “12XU” had a massive influence on hardcore punk, and bands like Sonic Youth and R.E.M. took to the arty blurt of songs like “Strange” and “Ex Lion Tamer.””

-Rolling Stone

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