Wire made astonishing leaps of invention from their first album (Pink Flag) to the third (154), and the band had become sick of playing its old material. Wire once hired a cover band called the Ex Lion Tamers to open for them and play the crowd-pleasers.
On the live "12XU" from Document And Eyewitness, a member of the band addresses the audience's request with angry disdain, and the recording itself is sabotaged by the band when someone (accidentally?) pressed the record button and intoned, "I don't need to go to the Arctic tonight; it's cold."
Wire split up in 1980, and reformed five years later. Pink Flag was a touchstone for hardcore punk and bands like Mission of Burma and the Minutemen, who were inspired by the new possibilities suggested by Wire's short, fast, lean songs with no guitar solos and very few choruses.
(12XU toon copyright Jon Kelly Green, jonkellygreen.blogspot.com).
The most frequently covered Wire songs are 12XU, Ex Lion Tamer ("Stay glued to your TV set") and 154's lovely Outdoor Miner (which is about an insect, the serpentine leafminer, which burrows under the "roof" of a leaf).
"Face worker, a serpentine miner/ The roof falls, an underliner/ Of leaf structure, the whale's vagina..."
All good things must come to an end -- and so must some things that seemed like a good idea but, in retrospect, were perhaps a bit too much. Like collecting almost 90 covers of one band's music. But here it is. Again. And it's called... 12XUXULT!