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I've read several books in the 33 1/3 series and this one is probably the best. In reading these I really want to find an appreciation and analysis of the albums being treated. In some cases there's more focus on biography than I'd like (Unknown Pleasures), analysis that seems off base or out of left field (Led Zeppelin IV), or just outright weirdness (Master of Reality, though that one's actually pretty good if you're open to something experimental). Wilson Neate's book on Pink Flag has just the right mix of ingredients.
The first portion of the book deals primarily with what might be considered biographical information about the players involved, but the focus is kept on those details that relate to the musical development or creative ambitions of the band members. Much of this detail comes straight from the band and quotes are used extensively.
The book also covers the recording of Pink Flag. The recording process gets a treatment, the role of the producer is discussed, and the author goes into a lot of detail about decisions made in the studio, changes in songs from earlier demo versions, and so on. If you have any interest in Wire, I think you'll find all of this very interesting.
A song-by-song analysis and appreciation is included in the later part of the book. The author covers each song and, unlike many other books of this type, the focus isn't just on the lyrics. While lyrics are covered, song structures, instrumentation, and decisions about musical direction also receive treatment. After listening to the book, I was able to go back to Pink Flag and appreciate it with different ears.
The book closes with a section on modern day squabbles between bandmates about songwriting credit. Contrasting their current positions with their 1977-era ideas about shared authorship was probably meant to further illustrate their approach in the Pink Flag days, but it left something of a bad taste in my mouth.
The narrator does a fine job and has a refined British manner of speech that fits the book's content. Aside from one or two small quibbles (he says "twelve x u" over and over -- isn't it "one two x u"?) I was very satisfied with the narration.
Don't hesitate to pick this one up if you're a Wire fan.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I’m not in the audiobook business but I assume that a professional outfit like Audible would expect that the people reading their books would do basic research. Hilariously throughout this ‘performance’ the reader calls the Wire song ‘12XU’ (ie ‘one, two, ex you’), ‘Twelve X U’. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Pink Flag album would know what this song was called, and this misnaming is jarring (1) because it’s wrong and (2) because we, the listeners, are paying someone who gives less than a shit about what he’s reading.
Does this sound petty? I guess it might, to someone who doesn’t know the song ‘12XU’. To someone who does, the repetition of the error gets more ridiculous and irritating (I suppose also slightly funny) as it goes on, as the mistake is made so many times throughout. It does indicate a lack of care.
The book itself is as thorough and detailed as one might expect and perhaps this makes the ‘twelve XU’ even more ridiculous!