Wire: Not About To Die [Album Review]

Not About To Die
Pinkflag [2022]

When an unofficial bootleg of this collection of band demos and sonic experiments first surfaced in the early 80’s, we’re told that the members of UK post-punk band Wire were none too pleased. But here, four decades later, with the band – three of the original members still intact – putting out not one, but two albums worth of music in 2020, Mind Hive and 10:20, it’s apparent they’ve embraced the musical evolution that this collection of early recordings brings to light.

Evidently the path to the original bootleg version came from cassette copies of these tracks that had been shared around the band’s label. Eventually, some of these songs were re-recorded for the band’s official releases, or as bonus tracks on out-of-print compilations, but here on this official cleaned-up and remastered release version, the band has reclaimed its own musical journey through now somewhat meaningless genre definitions like “punk,” “post-punk,” “punk/pop,” and “hardcore.” For instance, we hear the progress made from this demo of “French Film (Blurred) – 4th Demo” and the song’s finished version that showed up on their 1978 release Chairs Missing, which along with Pink Flag and 154 from ’77 and ’79 respectively got special edition re-issues in 2018. Or a track like “Undercover Experiences – 4th Demo” that got a much faster reinvention four decades later on 10:20.

It’s instructive to hear the evolution of a track like “Ignorance No Plea (I Should Know Better) – 6th Demo” from the grittier guitar driven demo and the sophisticated synth focused version, “I Should Know Better” that opened 154. There are plenty of similar revelations available on this 17-track reclamation of the demo bootleg, bound to please and surprise Wire fans far more familiar with the original “final” product, which is available here for the first time on vinyl.

“Oh No Not So (Save The Bullet) – 4th Demo” / “Love Ain’t Polite – 4th Demo” / “Options R – 5th Demo”

Minutemen / Minor Threat / Guided By Voices

10:20 (2020) / Mind Hive (2020) / Chairs Missing, Pink Flag, 154 Reissues (2018) / Change Becomes Us (2013)

Official Website

Brian Q. Newcomb

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