- Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: Omnibus Press (May 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847727107
- ISBN-13: 978-1847727107
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,747,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lowdown: The Story of Wire Paperback – July 1, 2009
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About the Author
Paul Lester was Features Editor of Melody Maker before leaving to start music and movie magazine Uncut where he was deputy editori until 2006. Since 2007, he has interviewed nearly 100 musicians and actors for the Guardian, Guardian Unlimited Music, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times and sleevenotes on everyone from Elkie Brooks to The Sex Pistols. He has written nine rock and pop biographies and has co-authored the Virgin Encyclopedia of Rock.
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However, "Lowdown" is marred by general editing issues (much of the text is repeated in various places throughout the book; you'll find yourself reading a paragraph in the second chapter and thinking it seems kind of familiar--check chapter one, you're not going crazy) and by not being quite thorough enough. For instance, the vast bulk of the book focuses on the formation of the band and the writing and recording of its first three albums. Granted, these are the records that cemented Wire's reputation and which continue to sell in the highest numbers; but the author does his subject a disservice by pushing the point that Wire's later work was unjustly ignored and then proceeding to more or less do so himself. (I realize now that this was likely due to the constraints imposed by Omnibus Press.)
Another issue I had with the book is that there is relatively little new information contained herein. The author relies heavily on other Wire-related biographical literature--most notably Wilson Neate's superior analysis of "Pink Flag" in the 33/13 book series, as well as Keith Cameron's informative Mojo magazine feature which also focuses on the "Pink Flag" - "154" era. If you've read these, then "Lowdown" is unlikely to make you aware of anything you didn't already know about the band's early days.
The author had access to Wire's members and conducted interviews with them, which is the true gem here; getting the individuals' subjective perspectives on the band's somewhat tumultuous career trajectory is a treat, even if Colin Newman tends to dominate the text. (No offense intended toward Mr. Newman, an artist whom I greatly admire and whose recollections are in fact a highlight of this book.)
All in all, "Lowdown" would make a reasonably good introduction to the work of this most singular of bands for, say, a new fan who hasn't encountered any of the other available literature. However, if you're weighing this book against Neate's "Read & Burn," a better-written/edited and more in-depth account of the band's entire career, then I would advise going that route instead.