Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Unheard Music...12x2u Pink Flag & Wire -- What Else Am I Missing!

The Unheard Music is a reference to a much loved but for decades out of print documentary about the music of X, one of the greatest American Rock Bands (okay, punk rock bands) of all time. (Here's a clip on youtube: I mention it because there’s so much amazing but unplayed music that can go on right around us and if we only have some access point we can discover it and, hopefully, be enriched. This is usually not far from the top of my mind but last month and the the more recent announcement that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had inducted Guns 'N Roses (important music, though (a) you couldn't help hearing it and (b) I'm not a fan for so many reasons) brought it a notch higher and here’s why:

So I’m sitting at dinner at one of my favorite (low key) restaurants in San Francisco engaged in conversation with friends. All of a sudden, I'm taken aback by the background music because I’m pretty damn sure that I’m listening to 12x2u by Wire from their brilliant 1977 debut album, “Pink Flag”

Here’s a link to to the youtube version (under 2 minutes):

Now this may not sound like a big deal to you, but Wire is an incredibly influential and important band whose long career yielded just two hits in the UK and two in the US. No, they’re not my favorite band (not even top 10), nor is Pink Flag my favorite album (again, not top 10), but after this paragraph, I've provided some cut and pastes from wikipedia’s entries for the band Wire and the album Pink Flag. It's certainly one of the 10 best punk rock albums nobody bought! Check it out and let me know what you think. I’d also love to know how we go about discovering the other jewels we missed — we all know (or should know) Never Mind the Bollocks, London Calling (or really any Clash Album other than Combat Rock), All Mod Cons (the Jam), the Ramones whole catalog, and I hope many if not all of us also know a bunch of albums by X (check out Los Angelese and Wild Gift by X if you missed them the first time around). Send me the songs and albums you think we’ve missed that are unheralded classics (Richard & Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out The Lights” is another prime example, though it sure ain't punk...more on that another time).

Oh, and here’s me earlier this year with someone I’ve idolized for 20+ years, a great founder…John Doe, Founder, song writer and amazing dude of the incredibly important rock band X and Jill Sobule, she’s not punk but she’s awesome (check out the albums “I Never Learned to Swim” or “Underdog Victorious” or “California Years”). Jill and John actually teamed up for “A Day At The Pass” which is terrific — I can’t stop listening to “Never My Love” and “Shaky Hands” — here’s a link to the Jill Sobule site at which you can check out some of this stuff and even buy a tee shirt!

Now for those cut and pastes:

“Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag (1977), ‘perhaps the most original debut album to come out of the first wave of British punk’, according to Allmusic, contains songs which are diverse in mood and style, but most use a minimalist punk approach, unorthodox structures”

“R.E.M. covered “Strange” on their Document album, and “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” emulates Wire’s song “Feeling Called Love”.”

“Critic Stewart Mason writes, ‘Over their brilliant first three albums, Wire expanded the sonic boundaries of not just punk, but rock music in general.’ Wire are arguably a definitive art punk or post-punk ensemble, mostly due to their richly detailed and atmospheric sound, often obscure lyrical themes and, to a lesser extent, their Situationist political stance.”

“Pink Flag is the first album by the band Wire, released in 1977. … Trouser Press called it “a brilliant 21-song suite” in which the band “manipulated classic rock song structure by condensing them into brief, intense explosions of attitude and energy, coming up with a collection of unforgettable tunes”.[5] Although the album was released to critical acclaim,[6] it was not a big seller. Today the album is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest albums of all time.[7][8][9][10][11] Music journalist, Stuart Maconie, described it as “by the standards of the time it was extraordinary. But I now realise that by the standards of any time, it’s extraordinary”.[12] The album was listed at number 410 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003”

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