I already got into the complexities of Wire’s early 2000s material last month, so let’s just consider this an extended footnote to that piece. But to sum up: after essentially disbanding a second time in 1991 following the release of Manscape and departure of drummer Robert Gotobed – including a short reincarnation as Wir – the band reconvened in 1999 for some live performances and then new recordings.
In 2002, they released two EPs – Read & Burn 01 and Read & Burn 02. Six of the ten tracks of those two releases were combined with four new tracks as the Send full-length in 2003. The complete 16 tracks from those releases were compiled that same year as PF 456 Redux, a vinyl-only release that required some ruthless editing of the songs to get them to fit on a single LP. A final Read & Burn volume came out in 2007, and in 2010 the band released Send Ultimate, a double-CD set that added the remaining Read & Burn 01 and 02 tracks, as well as a half-dozen other tracks. And now, they’re going back to the sessions one more time for a 2021 Record Store Day release, PF 456 Deluxe, which collects and re-sequences the PF 456 Redux tracks in their original unedited forms across two 10″ records, and adds in their 2001 “Twelve Times You” 7″ along with a 44-page hardcover book for additional value. Which is good, because this set runs into three figures!
Clearly, they’ve gone back to these sessions more than a few times, but to be fair they do represent a pretty important era for the band. Besides affirming them as a vital creative force for the 21st century, they represented the final contributions of founding guitarist and songwriter Bruce Gilbert to the band. To mark the release of the deluxe set, he acquiesced to do some press alongside Colin Newman – his first interviews about Wire since leaving the band.
In conversation with An Aquarium Drunkard, they offer an interesting look into their songwriting process for the sessions, and how they contrasted to their working relationship for the previous 20 years or so.
In conversation with Spin, they look back at the circumstances that led to them reforming in 1999 for a single gig, and then deciding to continue forward as a non-nostalgia act.
Rock & Roll Globe celebrates the Read & Burn era as their “most feral yet most artistic body of work”, and Newman and Gilbert don’t disagree:
And for Flood magazine, they reflect on the era as their response to Britpop and embrace of electronic and dance music:
And just to be helpful, Colin Newman assembled a Spotify playlist compiling all the PF456 Deluxe tracks, in case you find the RSD release a little too spendy.
And if you want to hear the PF456 Redux versions, there’s YouTube: