In 1978 and 1979, Wire taped three sessions for the John Peel show. Most artists might have taken the opportunity afforded by a coveted Peel session to promote a recent or forthcoming release. Wire did otherwise. Wire often moved swiftly on to new projects once material had been committed to vinyl. Consequently, only one of the numbers chosen by the group for its first BBC session in January 1978 was from the recent debut album, Pink Flag. Even that track ("106 Beats That") was treated to a compressed rendition. Nevertheless, the session arrangements of "Practice Makes Perfect" and "I Am the Fly" closely resemble the versions that would be released eight months later on Chairs Missing. Wire returned to the BBC studios in September 1978, having spent most of the year touring and giving fans ample opportunity to acquaint themselves with the material released that month on Chairs Missing. True to form, the second session comprised new tracks that would appear on 154, almost a year later. However, a couple of the versions differ from their eventual album incarnations, emphasizing that the object of Wire's art was the work in progress, not the finished product. "The Other Window," for instance, would be a vaguely menacing exercise in dramatic tension on 154; here, it's a sprightly pop song. When the third Radio 1 session aired in late 1979, 154 was enjoying critical acclaim. Rather than showcase the album, Wire chose to perform "Crazy About Love," a quarter-hour improvisational oddity spawned in rehearsals. Although The Peel Sessions hints at early Wire's weaknesses without regular producer Mike Thorne -- who seemed uniquely capable of bringing the group's sound into focus -- the material collected here does nothing to diminish Wire's status as the most innovative and influential band of the punk era.
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AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate