post-punk gems, v. 58 — Wire

Welcome back to Radio K-SAT, where every Wednesday I cue up a great tune from back in the day, and a bit of the tune’s back-story (as time allows). Once again I’ve been paging through John Robb’s Punk Rock: An Oral History, learning about tales and tracks I wasn’t privy to the first time around.

Wire’s Pink Flag (1977), of course, remains a staple on best-o-lists for the time and punk writ large, and casts a long shadow on subsequent LPs (and their key tracks). Wire’s label was EMI, and of course all the labels were still learning what to do with punk and its arty offshoots. In summer ’78, Wire released “Outdoor Miner,” which charted ahead of a scheduled appearance for the band on Top of the Pops.

As Colin Newman recalled, after the TOTP slot was cancelled, “that was our big moment gone, where we could have been weird and pop at the same time!” The situation was complicated by the pulling of the single from the charts due to rumors about “the possibility that inducements had been offered for the sale of the single to be exaggerated in chart return shops.” For the Yanks among you, read: rumors of payola, which might as well have been confirmed, and the single and the LP never recovered. The single, though, deserved a real shot, and heralds the fine work of many bands, most conspicuously Pavement. Wire’s still at it though, and good for them. I hope the music’s paying the bills.

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