Read & Burn is the first serious, in-depth appraisal of Wire, one of the most influential British bands to emerge during the punk era. If Wire were briefly a punk band, however, it was largely by historical accident. Despite the fact that they had complicated and transformed that category almost before they'd begun, they seem never to have quite escaped the label. Be it punk, post-punk, or art-punk, critics have clung onto the p-word in an attempt to capture the essence of Wire's innovative uniqueness. But their story - which honours punk's original yet quickly forgotten commitment to the new - is one of constant remaking and remodelling, one that stubbornly resists reduction to a single identity. As a result, the group's projects have always balanced uneasily between artistic endeavour and the need for commercial sustainability, played out against the backdrop of the musicians' perennially complex creative relationships. Tracing Wire's diverse output from 1977 up until the present, Read & Burn seeks to do justice to their highly influential and restlessly inventive body of work.
Wilson Neate is the author of Pink Flag (Continuum 2009), a book on Wire's first album. He has written widely about music, contributing to books and other print and online venues. In a past life, he acquired a wholly useless PhD and published Tolerating Ambiguity (Peter Lang 1998), as well as a number of scholarly articles.