Nothing is Nothing, Something is Nothing: The Best of Wire 1977-2016

Our own correspondent is sorry to tell
Of an uneasy time that all is not well

I first heard Wire’s Pink Flag album in the 1980s. It could have been either hearing Strange on the radio or seeing them perform Eardrum Buzz on BBC2. I’d read about them, of course, in NME and Melody Maker and knew they were talked about in revered tones as THE seminal British post-punk band. What I’ve loved about them is their playfulness, decidedly suggestive lyrics (which always seem to infer some greater significance) and their constant reinvention and experimentation  (2016’s Wire sound almost like a completely different band).

1977’s Pink Flag is one of those albums that is undeniably perfect. It trumps Never Mind the Bollocks as the definitive album of that first wave of British punk (certainly in terms of the actual music). There’s no sense of a misstep or throwaway track on the album. I still can’t listen to the opening track, Reuters, without a sense of unease.

The three early Wire Albums of the 1970s – Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 – develop musically from a stark punk minimalism to something increasingly layered and moody. 1977’s raw energy gives way to songs that seem increasingly detached and melancholic.

A Bell is a Cup… released in 1988 is probably the point I started following Wire properly. After a decade – including a lengthy break-up – the band returned with a playful, surreal album which included the weird (but stunning) Kidney Bingos. Its follow-up, IBTABA a year later features the catchy, childlike Eardrum Buzz.

I’m not keen on Wire’s 90s experimentation with electronica and there’s nothing I really like on albums like Manscape (1990) and The First Letter (1991) which I’ve listened to from time to time over the years.

After another long break-up, Wire returned with Send in 2003 which I think is another amazing album. It’s their most forceful album shown clearly in the opening track, In the Art of Stopping. 2015’s self-titled album, Wire, and their most recent release, Nocturnal Koreans (2016), have both been exceptionally engaging as well.

Here’s my playlist of my favourite Wire songs, Nothing is Nothing, Something is Nothing, which can be listened to on Apple Music.

Listen to Wire: Nothing is Nothing, Something is Nothing

Track Listing

Three Girl Rhumba – 1:23
Ex Lion Tamer – 2:19
Reuters – 3:03
It’s So Obvious – 0:53
Strange – 3:59
1 2 X U – 1:57
106 Beats That – 1:12
Practice Makes Perfect – 4:11
French Film Blurred – 2:34
Sand In My Joints – 1:50
I Am the Fly – 3:09
Used To – 2:23
Outdoor Miner – 1:44
Question Of Degree – 3:12
Kidney Bingos – 4:12
Eardrum Buzz – 4:16
It’s a Boy – 3:59
On Returning (2006 Remaster) – 2:06
In the Art of Stopping – 3:34
Germ Ship – 1:50
Artificial Gravity – 6:13
All Fours – 4:05
One of Us – 3:45
Doubles & Trebles – 3:50
Stealth of a Stork – 1:54
Nocturnal Koreans – 2:58

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