Wire – 12XU

13th June 2022 · 1970s, 1977, Music, Punk

In many ways this is the prototype for punk. Which is odd, since Wire have come to be regarded as the progenitors of post-punk.

The first song they released, it’s simultaneously simple – simplistic, even – and archly intelligent; almost a pastiche.

Art school boys, Wire distilled punk rock to its essence: when one or two notes (or chords) will suffice, why use more?

MInimalist to the core, musically it’s no more than a fast-paced thrash propelled by one note on the bass and a metronomic drum rhythm.

The lyric follows the same pattern: “Saw you in a mag / Kissing a man” is repeated ad infinitum… until the change to “smoking a fag.”

To this day I have no idea what it meant – nor the meaning of that title 12XU.

It was the first thing I – any of us – heard by Wire, appearing on the live compilation The Roxy London WC2 recorded in the early months of 1977 and released that July.

That’s the version here, accompanied by a rather brilliant video montage that captures Wire in their early days.