Colin Newman - A-Z LP
Label: Sentient Sonics
A curious case: a band at its peak announces a hiatus and then the members fill the next half-decade with constant recorded output, often in combinations nearly identical with that of the original group itself. Such is the case of Wire, who in the wake of an abandoned follow-up to 154 seemed to neatly bifurcate into projects that often dramatically adjusted the gradient of Wire's chiaroscuro songcraft. Colin Newman's early '80s output is a palimpsest of that source material, serving both to cross-section some of Wire's component parts and to provide a counterfactual or alternative history to the "official" quiet that followed their exalted late-70s run.
Often referred to as the "lost" fourth Wire album, Colin Newman's A-Z was released by Beggars Banquet in October 1980 and features Wire drummer Robert Gotobed, producer/keyboardist Mike Thorne and Desmond Simmons – even Charles Bullen, under an alias. Augmented with looped and multi-tracked vocals, variously treated guitars and Thorne's prominent keyboards, the songs on A-Z find pop and experiment in equipoise, at once drawing on Wire's established strengths ("& Jury," "Order For Order," "Inventory") and point to its then-unwritten future ("Image," "Life On Deck," "Seconds To Last").