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On The Box: 1979 (CD and DVD)
Pink Flag Archive Research

1979. A year that rings in my head as one of the finest music years in recorded history. Somewhere amidst all the crap that was going on in mainstream music, the few who were carefully listening were finding some amazing music. From the biting new wave of The Clash to the dark tones of Bauhaus, the musical world was on it's ear. Wire was there. And Wire rocked the house. Here, for the first time on DVD, is a release of the Wire performance from Rockpalast, a German music show that was by and far the most serious venue on German television for real music at the time. Wire certainly did not disappoint with their performance.

On The Box: 1979 is an incredible glance into the burgeoning post-punk scene, and you get two ways to enjoy the performance in one great package! You get the full performance on DVD, as well as an interview with the band (good for a laugh at times), and a complete audio recording of the performance to listen to wherever your travels may take you. The set kicks off with a ripping, heavily-flanged version of "Another The Letter" and quickly builds steam from there. By the time the band is making their way into "Practice Makes Perfect", Robert Gotobed's shirt comes off and the intensity becomes tangible. Wire has always been rumored a stoic band live, and by all accounts, they are. Yet, watching the DVD definitely gives a glimpse into the harnessed energy of a Wire live performance; demonstrating that a band need not bounce around on stage to be captivating and mesmerizing. Colin Newman is dressed smartly in a tie and slacks, a uniform that belies his purposeful musical onslaught, as he bashes away on his guitar and leads the band through a number of Wire favorites.

"Blessed State" is a definite highlight for me, as it was one of my favorite early Wire recordings, and this performance is nothing short of astonishing. Being able to watch the stoic posture of Bruce Gilbert as he adds the tasty guitar licks that really made the early Wire music something incredible in it's own right. Bass is substantive and thick, a rarity for a majority of live recordings from this era, but all the tone that the energetic Graham Lewis can muster is extremely evident. "40 Versions" is also a very cool track, with it's Newman tuning guitars, thick with distortion, and the grooviest bassline that Wire ever turned out.

The recording quality of the music is simply amazing, making this a pure archivist's dream. And, allegedly, this is the first in a series of archive releases of Wire material. I'm on the edge of my chair waiting for the next installment. If it contains only half the beauty and substance found on On The Box: 1979, it will surely be another fine addition to any fan's collection.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:

1. Introduction
2. Another The Letter
3. The 15th
4. Practice Makes Perfect
5. Two People In A Room
6. I Feel Mysterious Today
7. Being Sucked In Again
8. Once Is Enough
9. Blessed State
10. A Question Of Degree
11. Single KO
12. Mercy
13. 40 Versions
14. Former Airline
15. A Touching Display
16. French Film Blurred
17. Men 2nd
18. Map Ref. 41 N 93 W
19. Heartbeat
20. Pink Flag

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