This double CD documents two key moments in Wire's development: their debut four-piece appearances on April 1-2, 1977 (five months before making Pink Flag), and one of their earliest U.S. shows from summer 1978, prior to the release of Chairs Missing. The Roxy was initially London's only dedicated punk rock venue and although never part of the punk scene, the band benefited from the exposure that milieu offered: at the club, Wire met Mike Thorne, who recorded their April gigs for his Roxy London WC2 compilation, brought them to EMI, and produced their first three records. In 1977, the quality of Wire's contributions to the Roxy live album ("Lowdown"; "12XU") prompted claims they had been finessed in the studio. Presented in their entirety for the first time, Wire's sets from those shows dispel that myth. Notwithstanding some juvenilia and two comedy covers ("Glad All Over"; "After Midnight"), their complete Roxy performances sound surprisingly disciplined for the shambolic punk era, proving that solid foundations were already in place for Pink Flag. By the time Wire made it to America for a mini-residency at New York's CBGB in July 1978, punk was dead and the band was moving in a radically different musical direction. The material featured here is an abridged version of a set recorded before a small audience (not at CBGB itself but in a nearby space) for broadcast on local station WPIX. Since American audiences had never seen Wire, the band uncharacteristically reprised some Pink Flag tracks. However, most of the songs come from Chairs Missing and explore exciting new territory, particularly the jagged exercises in creepy surrealism "From the Nursery" and "Practice Makes Perfect." Scant live evidence of Wire's exhilarating early phase exists; these recordings start to fill that gap, providing a vivid, fleeting snapshot of a group whose natural state was constant change.
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AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2