Pink Flag


EMI Records, 1977

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Brevity is key in the punk ethos.

If any band understood this, it was Wire.

In the span of one Tool song, Wire was about halfway through my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Pink Flag, their amazing 1977 album.

21 songs.

39 minutes.

No bullshit.

Even if you have never heard a note of the original Pink Flag, you've likely heard the entire album over the course of 20 years. "Oh, that's that cool guitar riff on 'Connection' by Elastica?" (See "Three Girl Rhumba.") "Oh, you mean REM didn't write 'Strange' on Document?" (See the track of the same name.) Not to say that either Elastica or REM are rip-off artists. Both songs are great homages to Wire.

It's hard to call Pink Flag "punk." In fact, most of Wire's collection defies definition. Released amidst the punk "zenith" of 1977 (The Clash, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols, Ramones all had stuff out), Wire leaned toward the artier side of the punk movement. Think punk music geared toward uptight, Kafka-worshipping grad students rather than glue-sniffing skaters.

With most songs lasting less than two minutes, Wire cover enormous ground with Pink Flag. "Reuters" has a political energy so urgent, it sounds like it was written about Gulf War II, "Lowdown" has a heavy Zeppelin-like feel, "Fragile" is a great stab at delicate pop and "Mannequin" has a subtlety that would later show up on REM's Murmer.

Still, lyrically, Pink Flag is as punk as punk comes. "Mr. Suit. You Can take your f*****g money and shove it up your arse / 'cause you think you understand / well it's a f*****g farce," Colin yells on the cathartic "Mr. Suit." And while "Mannequin" has a soft, groovy guitar riff, the lyrics creep up on you: "You're an energy void/a black hole to avoid."

In the spirit of the album's brevity - it rocks. Buy it.


Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2004 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI Records, and is used for informational purposes only.