WIRE : Behind The Curtain (Early Versions 1977-1978)

Recently, in a strange backpedalling manoeuvre, not only have Wire reissued their Harvest-era LPs sans the additional tracks featured on earlier CD issues (suggesting that there's probably a hefty boxset in the works?), they've also allowed invaluable archival documents such as The Peel Sessions (1989) & Behind The Curtain (1995) compilations to slip out of print.
Though not necessarily as mandatory a listen as the Peel selection, EMI's Behind The Curtain is fascinating stuff (of course!) for the Wire fanatic: 30+ songs recorded during the first 2 (vital) years of their existence. Wire, as you may know, were a 5-piece initially - founder member George Gill originally co-wrote the songs & played guitar (Colin Newman was solely the vocalist at that point) but was ousted very early on due to his un-hip pub rock tendencies. Admirably, his fleeting presence hasn't been completely excised from this compilation: an unexpected cover of J.J.Cale's "After Midnight" (Gill's idea I'm assuming?) has been retained. Though often scrappy & largely inferior to the definitive Harvest takes, what's astonishing about these recordings is the glimpse into Wire's startling frenetic evolutionary process that it presents. Starting out as a meat & potatoes, Roxy-affiliated punk band (albeit a very intelligent one) sarcastically snarling "Mary Is A Dyke" in April 1977, by the closing track, December 1978's thunderous "Former Airline", they've mutated into an angular, Eno-indebted art-rock ensemble. Charting the multi-faceted creative transitions between their 3 long-celebrated 70s LPs, Behind The Curtain offers up versions of Chairs Missing songs recorded to the skeletal Pink Flag template, & 154 tracks still cautiously awaiting Mike Thorne's occasionally overwhelming electronic reworking. Several excellent abandoned pieces crop up along the way, "No Romans" & the studio version of "Underwater Experiences" (at last!) being the genuine ones that got away.

Oh, & in case you hadn't noticed, I really fucking love Wire.


  1. I really fuckin' love wire as well.

  2. ...I saw them live last year &, amazingly, they're STILL brilliant!

    P.S. I'm looking for the Not About To Die bootleg at the mo' (more early demos apparently), you wouldn't have a copy would you? x

  3. Anonymous10.2.10

    a litt;e bit hit & miss but definitely worth it for the stripped back versions of chairs missing & 154 stuff. nice. thanks for posting.
    the blogger formerly know as the sweetspotdiviner

  4. Well, yes... the version of "Former Airline" on here is brilliant & "No Romans" is definitely my N.F.W.S. (New Favourite Wire Song). I've been trying to decipher the lyrics to "Mary Is A Dyke", rather fruity by all accounts...?

  5. Brilliant post, brilliant band, brillaint. Thanks you.

  6. Hi Novemberer, thanx for chin-chining my blog 2hb, glad you liked my post which you're now sharing! It's fine and, yeah, I fucking love Wire too!!

  7. Ta, sir. Was fortunate enough to see Wire live last year & can vouch for their still being VERY BLOODY GOOD - definitely worth a tenner if the opportunity presents itself, etc. As a thanks for the fieshare I figure it's only fair I point you in the direction of this beauty:


    ...there's plenty of crossover with Behind The Curtain but a few songs I've not heard before too.

  8. Hi Novemberer,
    personal message...I think you might like this...



  9. Thanks for that, I've never even HEARD of it before tbh, am downloading now & will give it a listen in a bit...

  10. Anonymous3.6.10

    from wikipedia (so possibly not true):

    Extra tracks have been removed from the 2006 remastered reissues, because, according to the band, they didn't honour the "conceptual clarity of the original statements"

  11. Sounds about right. Personally, I hold Graham Lewis wholly responsible...!

  12. wow!! this blog is absolutely amazing!!! i really liked, i think all the information contained in this blog are very useful and very interesting. i really enjoyed reading.

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  13. Oh KImberly, you almost had me fooled there for a minute...

  14. LOL @Kimberly's post and your corresponding comment, Novemberer.
    Great post, great band - just getting back into Wire and got to say Red Barked Tree, Send and Object 47 are amazing. Can't wait to hear this so thank you for posting. And no, I'm not selling Viagra. :P ~Michelle

  15. Anonymous16.4.12

    thanx for this one!