Written by: Alex Green
Although former Rough Trade boss Geoff Travis has called the news “completely mad” Wire are set to re-release Document and Eyewitness on August 18.
Travis put out the original vinyl album in 1981, so he’s all too familiar with the polarizing album in Wire’s oeuvre.
Comprised of a series of live recordings culled from three different sets, the album is one of the most idiosyncratic live records ever released. Recorded around 1979-1980, the album is comprised of sprinting, fractured tracks, experimental dashes of percussive weirdness (for example, a gas cooker being pounded with a hammer) and bizarre on-stage antics that included beekeepers veils, morris dancing bells, two bound men being dragged by a woman across the stage and an illuminated goose.
Listen closely and you might also hear the sound of audience members throwing bottles.
You might not have to even listen that closely for that.
Odd as the album may be, it’s one of the most fascinating live records you’ll hear. In a press release that announces the reissue, the importance of the record is crystalized rather clearly: “For many reasons, both good and bad, this period in Wire’s history became one of its defining moments, with the band paradoxically enjoying a phase of intense creative energy at the same time as it was dissolving – as if it had been dropped in acid.”
DOCUMENT AND EYEWITNESS TRACK BREAKDOWN:
Side One: 01. 5/10 / 02. 12XU (Fragment) / 03. Underwater Experiences / 04. Everything’s Going to Be Nice / 05. Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars) / 06. We Meet Under Tables
Side Two: 07. ZEGK HOQP / 08. Eastern Standard / 09. Instrumental (Thrown Bottle) / 10. Eels Sang Lino / 11. Revealing Trade Secrets / 12. And Then… Coda
Tracks 01-12 from Electric Ballroom
Side One: 13. Go Ahead / 14. Ally in Exile / 15. Relationship / 16. Underwater Experiences / 17. Witness to the Fact / 18. 2 People in a Room / 19. Our Swimmer / 20. Heartbeat
Side Two: 21. Our Swimmer / 22. Midnight Bahnhof Cafe / 23. Second Length (Our Swimmer) / 24. Catapult 30
Tracks 01-12 from Electric Ballroom. Tracks 13-19 from Notre Dame Hall. Track 20 from Montreux. Tracks 21-22 from “Our Swimmer” (1981) single. Tracks 23-24 from an unreleased 1981 single.
LEGAL BOOTLEG SERIES: To complete the second legal bootleg series, the full, unedited gig recording of each show will be released (digital only). These will be:
09th March 1979, Pavilion Montreux (PFB 708)
01. Another the Letter / 02. Practice Makes Perfect / 03. 2 People in a Room / 04. I Feel Mysterious Today / 05. Being Sucked In / 06. Blessed State / 07. A Question of Degree / 08. Mercy / 09. A Touching Display / 10. Former Airline / 11. French Film Blurred / 12. Men 2nd / 13. Heartbeat
19th July 1979, Notre Dame Hall, London (PFB 707)
01. Go Ahead / 02. Ally in Exile / 03. Being Sucked In / 04. Relationship / 05. Midnight Bahnhof Cafe / 06. Underwater Experiences / 07. Blessed State / 08. Witness to the Fact / 09. I Should Have Known Better / 10. Safe / 11. Lorries / 12. 2 People in a Room / 13. A Question of Degree / 14. Our Swimmer / 15. I Am the Fly / 16. Heartbeat / 17. Strange
29th February 1980, Electric Ballroom, Document and Eyewitness Naked (PFB 806)
00. Eyewitness Accounts / 01. 5/10 / 02. Request Spot/12XU / 03. Underwater Experiences / 04. Everything’s Going to Be Nice / 05. Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars) / 06. We Meet Under Tables / 07. Inventory / 08. ZEGK HOQP / 09. Eastern Standard / 10. Instrumental (Thrown Bottle) / 11. Ritual View / 12. Part of Our History / 13. Eels Sang Lino / 14. Revealing Trade Secrets 15. And Then… Coda