Remixes and alternate versions have become staples of popular music. But while most bands use them as bonus tracks or B-side fodder, Wire is one of the only rock groups to have filled an album with versions of the same song ("Drill"). Built on a paradigmatic Wire rhythm affectionately known as "dugga," "Drill" was born during rehearsals for the band's 1985 return to live performance. A first studio recording appeared on Snakedrill (1986), but in concert the track began to mutate, in both its arrangement and duration (lasting from five to 30 minutes). Inspired by "Drill"'s metamorphoses, in 1989 Wire decided to continue the process in the studio, beyond the constraints imposed by simple live configurations of guitar, bass, and drums. Additionally, the project was approached as a means of feeling out the newer technology to be employed on the next album, Manscape. Six of the nine tracks on The Drill are fruits of that endeavor. Comprising experiments within the genre that would come to be known as electronica, they range from the slower and more fluid (the pulsing "What's Your Desire?") to the frenetic and the fragmented (the perky "Jumping Mint"). Although things come unstuck with "Did You Dugga?" -- which sounds like a cartoon version of house music -- more than adequate compensation is provided by the "Drill"/"12XU" hybrid of "In Every City?" and the live, 12-minute "(A Chicago) Drill." At the time of its release, The Drill ranked among Wire's more idiosyncratic ventures, but considering subsequent work in minimal electronica by other artists, it doesn't seem so strange now. "There can never be enough Drills in the world," Wire guitarist Bruce Gilbert has said, and, if you agree, then you might also be interested in the aptly entitled Dugga Dugga Dugga, an album of "Drill" cover versions.
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AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate