100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #76 Wire – 12 X U

Released : 1977

People don’t always get things right. Opining to Trouser Press on the release of Wire’s debut album Pink Flag, Ira Robins described it with “You may not like Wire. I can’t say this is an enjoyable album. Maybe it’s just a stupid bit of rubbish.”

I mean, being proved wrong is half the fun of criticism, right? Pink Flag was indeed hard to grip though; 21 songs, some of which were less than a minute long, dabbled variously in punk’s past, present and future whilst rarely being what anyone could classify as an actual punk record, or at least the accepted version of the time.

Boringly, as an album it’s become as well known over the years in the Britpop gossip of whether Damon Albarn actually wrote Elastica’s songs; you can listen to Three Girl Rhumba and Connection back to back to get the gist.

But none of that should take away the notion that Wire’s sheer obstinacy made closer 12 X U the most vengeful of full stops. A minimalist thrash, the lyrics dealt with censorship as a blunt instrument, beginning ‘Saw you in a mag kissing a man/I’ve got you in a corner (cottage)’. Singer Colin Newman had a refreshingly simple explanation: “It was a joke about censoring. Lots of people were putting out records with ‘fuck’ on them and immediately getting banned.” Difficult? Yes. ‘A stupid bit of rubbish’? Never.

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