Both a companion to Mute's 1986-1991 Wire compilation The A List and a continuation of the earlier rarities collection Behind the Curtain, 1997's Coatings is a set of 14 B-sides and alternate mixes from the second half of Wire's career. Those fans only interested in the clangorous guitar rock of the Pink Flag days should stop reading now, as there's nothing here for you. This chronologically ordered set starts with a harsh, cacophonous studio version of "Ambulance Chasers," previously available only as a live track and then runs through several interesting alternate takes of songs from The Ideal Copy and A Bell Is a Cup...Until It Is Struck, including an early version of "Kidney Bingos" with different verses and a completely different, almost ambient instrumental mix of "It's a Boy." Then comes the entirety of the group's 1987 Peel Session, featuring an extended version of "Drill" that focuses much less on the famed "dugga-dugga-dugga" rhythm than most of the other versions. Following that come four less interesting outtakes from the It's Beginning to and Back Again and Manscape sessions, including a weak remix of "In Vivo." The album also includes a bonus disc with an 18-minute reworking of The Ideal Copy's "Ambitious" commissioned for a ballet by avant-garde choreographer Stephen Petronio, which is strictly for fanatics. Indeed, casual Wire fans in general won't be well served by this rarities compilation, though others will be intrigued by the alternate takes and remixes.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2