Wire: I Am The Fly

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To Wire's 2001 concert review in the New York Times

Click to download Wire historical memorabilia, text or hi-res graphic.
All are encoded as zip files.

Thorne's commentary on making four albums with Wire (24K Word file)
The Roxy, London WC2, (Jan-Apr 77), hi-res cover art 648K jpg
Pink Flag, hi-res cover art 568K jpg
Chairs Missing, hi-res cover art 556K jpg
154, hi-res cover art 188K jpg
Bruce Gilbert's mid-80s letter to Thorne, 176K jpg
Concert poster, Notre Dame Hall, London, 1979 796K jpg

The making of Wire's I Am The Fly single

I Am The Fly

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After Pink Flag, which shocked us all by the ferocity of the favorable reviews, we had to make an interim single before embarking on what was to be Chairs Missing.  Suddenly, the group was on the precarious edge of commercial viability, despite the limited response to the first single from that record (Mannequin).  The singer and second guitarist, Colin Newman, had acquired an MXR Flanger pedal (I forget how, but I remember acutely that the one I bought out of my own pocket, specifically for the single's recording sessions, was over £100 ($200 in 1978).  The essence of the single seemed to be turning all the controls to maximum.  That became the introduction to the track, and a classic sound.  Somehow, that introductory sound reminds me inescapably of Colin's personality.

We experimented considerably on these quick sessions (taking about three days for the whole recording).  The loutish singalong chorus was a cheerful departure ('I am the fly in the ointment/I can spread more disease/Than the fleas that nibble away/At your window display').  People often took Wire more seriously than they took themselves, but everyone cared deeply about what they were doing. The control room arguments were endless and furious, although the most bitter shouting exchanges would usually generate an  improvement in the record under construction. Anyone's idea was accepted for tryout; the good off-the-wall ones raised the standard, the bad ones raised a good laugh.

At EMI, executives were mildly roused by the vinyl result.  Wire had not been a group to schmooze unduly; their friends were acquired strictly through the medium of the music. One particularly conservative executive, a frequent corporate cultural adversary, commented in a marketing meeting that 'it's funny, but it really sticks in your head'. The cross-cultural appeal was appreciated.  Two years later, I was on the phone from London to a friend in New York when the song came on WPLJ in the background of her hotel room.  The timing was so corny, it had to be real.  It wasn't American big hit radio, but the track was working for people and it was half way to culture shock having a strong reaction from New York and Los Angeles.

When the second album was recorded, there was hot debate about whether I Am The Fly should be included, the spirit of the time being to provide as much value on the album for the fans as possible and not resell them something they had already acquired.  But the strength of the track forced it on us, even if it was the middle track on the second side of the vinyl album.

 - MT March 2000

I Am The Fly is included in the original Wire album Chairs Missing, and
in the collection of tracks from their early years, On Returning.

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To Wire discography
To Wire discography
To radio sessions log
To Wire songs covered by other artists
To Bruce Gilbert discography
To Bruce Gilbert/Graham Lewis discography
To Robert Gotobed discography
To Graham Lewis discography
To Colin Newman discography
To Swim discography

To Wire's 2001 concert review in the New York Times

Click to download Wire historical memorabilia, text or hi-res graphic.
All are encoded as zip files.

Thorne's commentary on making four albums with Wire (24K Word file)
The Roxy, London WC2, (Jan-Apr 77), hi-res cover art 648K jpg
Pink Flag, hi-res cover art 568K jpg
Chairs Missing, hi-res cover art 556K jpg
154, hi-res cover art 188K jpg
Bruce Gilbert's mid-80s letter to Thorne, 176K jpg
Concert poster, Notre Dame Hall, London, 1979 796K jpg

Complete Thorne production commentaries:
Marc Almond: Fantastic Star
Laurie Anderson: Strange Angels
BETTY: Hello BETTY!
BETTY: Carnival
BETTY: Jungle Jane remixes
Bronski Beat: Age Of Consent
Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy
Bronski Beat: Why?
Bronski Beat: Hundreds And Thousands
John Cale: Honi Soit
Carmel: Bad Day
Carmel: The Drum Is Everything
Carmel: It's All In The Game
Communards
Deep Purple: Fireball air conditioning
Flowerpot Men: Walk On Gilded Splinters
Ives/Reinhard: Universe Symphony
Johnny Reinhard: Ravening remix
Sex Pistols: Anarchy In The UK
Sex Pistols: Jubilee boxed set
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Song From The Edge Of The World
Soft Cell: Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing
Soft Cell: Non Stop Erotic Cabaret
Soft Cell: Tainted Love
Soft Cell: The Art Of Falling Apart
Soft Cell: Torch
Soft Machine: Alive And Well In Paris
Symphony Of Saxes: White Cliffs Of Dover
Telephone: Anna
The Roxy London WC2 (Jan-Apr 77)
The Shirts
The Shirts: Streetlight Shine
The The: Uncertain Smile
Til Tuesday: Voices Carry
Wire: Pink Flag
Wire: I Am The Fly
Wire: Chairs Missing
Wire: Outdoor Miner
Wire: 154