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.