13 July 2008
Wire - Our Swimmer
Label: Rough Trade
Year of Release: 1981
Somewhat shockingly, I could have chosen just about any Wire track for inclusion on this blog, since they were never a conventionally successful band by most measures. They were denied hits throughout both their punk heyday (although it's possible "Outdoor Miner" might have charted if EMI hadn't been caught trying to hype it) and their eighties career on Mute. Like The Velvet Underground, Wire are a band whose sales figures impressed less than their critical acclaim or subequent degree of creative influence.
Given that they have a new album out now ("Object 47") it's worth casting our minds back to their pre-Mute, post-EMI career wilderness. "Our Swimmer" was released after they'd been booted off of The Greatest Record Company in the World(TM) and into the wild to fend for themselves. Pressed and distributed by Rough Trade before they'd discovered The Smiths (and therefore before they had anything approaching a budget), "Our Swimmer" was positively received at the time, but understandably didn't bring them success any more than their major label offerings.
It would cause a lot of unnecessary upset and bring forth tons of accuasations of hyperbole if I honestly said that this single was a "lost classic", but nonetheless it's still a damn fine addition to Wire's already sturdy canon. There's a grinding, almost krautrock insistence to the A-side which nags away at your feet, whilst the B-side "Midnight Bahnhoff Cafe" is an eerie piece of work which hints at the more electronic sound they'd develop on Mute Records. Due to the fact that this single was a Rough Trade one-off which fell between the stools of their EMI and Mute careers, it's been allowed to languish in relative obscurity ever since, a victim of licensing rather than its own quality. Of course, it's situations like this one that MP3 blogs were made for...
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