Wire is a band known for evolving at a fast clip, especially in their early years. The first three Wire LPs—Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), and 154 (1979)—all vary stylistically. Being that the group refused to stand still, it’s no wonder that good songs got left behind—this is early Wire we’re talking about, after all. Some of this initial, subsequently discarded material was recorded during what would turn out to be momentous gigs for the group.
The Roxy club was the focal point of London’s punk scene. The live album recorded there, The Roxy London WC2 (Jan - Apr 77), is an essential document of that era, capturing a number of bands during their formative stages. Two Wire songs were included on the LP—“Lowdown” and “12XU.” Both would be subsequently re-recorded and included on Pink Flag.
Wire formed in August 1976, and initially consisted of five members. When guitarist George Gill broke his leg, the other four continued to rehearse, and quickly realized that they sounded better without him. Gill was sacked soon after. Wire performed on both dates of the Roxy’s two-day punk-themed event, which took place on April 1 & 2, 1977. These were the band’s first appearances as a four-piece.
Wire opened the first night of the punk fest, playing to nearly no one. But they made an impression and were moved up to slot #3 for night two. Punk historian Jon Savage, then writing for Sounds, caught the second performance. Savage later recalled that this version of Wire “were conceptually fascinating, horribly sarcastic and very funny.” Here’s an excerpt from his original review for Sounds:
(Wire) short circuit the audience totally, playing about 20 numbers, most about one minute long. The audience doesn’t know when one has finished and another is beginning. I like the band for that…good theatre. Image-wise they look convincingly bug-eyed, flash speed automations caught in a Mod time-warp. There seems to be a scheme of things, but this is buried in the poor sound and limitations in the format. There were glimpses of genuine originality.
Much more early Wire after the jump…