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Baker's Dozen

The Ideal Copies: Graham Lewis Of Wire's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , April 15th, 2015 13:44

As Wire continue their five-night London residency as part of the tQ co-curated DRILL:LEXINGTON festival, their bassist and lyricist gives Luke Turner a tour of his top 13 records

Wire have always been a band of tensions, of different modes, mysteries and ways of being. It's often tempting to try and locate which elements of their wry angularity come from which member, but it's probably a mistake to always assume that the pop comes from Colin Newman, the art from Graham Lewis and, before he left, experimental textures by Bruce Gilbert. That's what makes Wire such a special band - a slipperiness that has arguably kept them slightly adrift from the recognition that they deserve. With new album Wire getting plaudits all over the shop this seems, pleasantly enough, likely to change.

Lewis, the band's bassist and lyricist, has always seemed to encase Wire's contradictions and perhaps to take great pleasure in doing so at the same time. An onstage pouting pugilist and an offstage sports enthusiast, he's also something of a wit, seeming to revel in fruitily delivered remarks that are especially satisfying when deployed against some of Wire's more retrogressive fanbase. This goes with his sharp attire (Lewis originally studied fashion) that seems to fit rather nicely with his finely-tuned lyricism or the songwriting outside Wire, whether with the gloriously shape-shifting He Said solo project (check out Mute albums Hail and Take Care), or last year's excellent All Over/All Under. That's not to mention, of course, the albums recorded with Gilbert as Dome in the early 80s, with tracks like 'Dasz & Roos-An' and 'Twist Up' describing an odd pop that still sounds like it was recorded by alien boffins on the sauce.

Lewis runs through his Baker's Dozen of significant albums over a few pints of Timothy Taylor's Landlord at the end of a long day of Wire promo. He manages to sneak in more bonus records than nearly any artist I've interviewed for one of these, choosing to select some of these 13 as representative of genres, movements or artists. His musical upbringing, and the root of these selections, was shaped by growing up on an RAF base, which he explains thus: "It was very weird, being 14 or 15 and playing football with your mates and out of the sky came Jimi Hendrix, and you didn't know what it was. You had The Kinks and all of Phil Spector's productions and The Walker Brothers, being able to hear 45s. I kept thinking: 'Would I be more comfortable with this list if this was 45s and only for a certain period?' Being able to hear 'Good Vibrations' coming out of the Wurlitzer of the NAAFI canteen at the RAF base, that's something where you're in a privileged position to hear music that way - everyone else is hearing it out of a crappy transistor. I also was lucky enough to live by the seaside for a period, and being able to hear music at high volume through big bass speakers, popular music through big carousel sound systems at the funfair and at the arcades, Helen Shapiro and The Shadows... After that everything had to measure up." Read what measured up by clicking on the image below.

Wire is out now on pink flag. The DRILL:LEXINGTON festival continues tonight with the band headlining and Tomaga in support. The other supports are: Boothroyd tomorrow, Orlando, April 17, and Xaviers, 18. Hit the artist names for links to music and get tickets here