Pink Flag

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Pink Flag
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1977[1]
RecordedSeptember–October 1977
StudioAdvision Studios, London
ProducerMike Thorne
Wire chronology
Pink Flag
Chairs Missing

Pink Flag is the first studio album by the English band Wire.[2] It was released in November 1977 by Harvest Records. Though the album failed to chart on its initial release, it has been widely acclaimed and is considered by critics and other commentators to have been highly influential on many other musicians since its release.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[3]
Christgau's Record GuideA[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[5]
Q5/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[9]
Uncut5/5 stars[10]

Reviewing in 1978 for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called Pink Flag a "punk suite" and praised its "simultaneous rawness and detachment" and detected a rock-and-roll irony similar to but "much grimmer and more frightening" than the Ramones.[11]

In a retrospective review, Steve Huey of AllMusic opined that Pink Flag was "perhaps the most original debut album to come out of the first wave of British punk" and also "recognizable, yet simultaneously quite unlike anything that preceded it. Pink Flag's enduring influence pops up in hardcore, post-punk, alternative rock, and even Britpop, and it still remains a fresh, invigorating listen today: a fascinating, highly inventive rethinking of punk rock and its freedom to make up your own rules."[3] Trouser Press called the album "a brilliant 21-song suite" in which the band "manipulated classic rock song structure by condensing them into brief, intense explosions of attitude and energy, coming up with a collection of unforgettable tunes".[12]


Although the album was released to critical acclaim,[13] it was not a big seller. It was listed at number 412 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012[14] and at number 378 in NME's list of the same name in 2013.[15] Music journalist Stuart Maconie described it as "extraordinary" by the standards of the time at which it was produced.[16] Pitchfork ranked Pink Flag number 22 in its list "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s".[17] The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The album's wide-ranging influence is exemplified by the number of bands which have covered its songs. Hardcore punk and post-hardcore acts that have covered songs from Pink Flag include Henry Rollins ("Ex Lion Tamer", on Drive by Shooting), Minor Threat ("1 2 X U", on Flex Your Head), and Firehose ("Mannequin", on Live Totem Pole), while Minutemen attributed to Pink Flag their approach of recording and releasing briefer songs. American alternative rock band R.E.M. reworked "Strange" on their 1987 album Document. Britpop band Elastica also used a riff similar to that of "Three Girl Rhumba" for their song "Connection".[18] Graham Coxon of Blur cited Pink Flag as an influence on his eighth studio album A+E.[19]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from the 2018 Special Edition.[20] [nb 1]

All music written by Colin Newman, except where noted. All lyrics written by Graham Lewis, except where noted.

Side one
1."Reuters" 3:03
2."Field Day for the Sundays" 0:28
3."Three Girl Rhumba"Newman1:23
4."Ex Lion Tamer" 2:19
5."Lowdown" 2:26
6."Start to Move" 1:13
7."Brazil" 0:41
8."It's So Obvious" 0:53
9."Surgeon's Girl"Newman1:17
10."Pink Flag" 3:47
Side two
11."The Commercial" Lewis0:49
12."Straight Line"Bruce GilbertGilbert, Newman0:44
13."106 Beats That"  1:12
14."Mr. Suit"Newman 1:25
15."Strange"GilbertGilbert, Newman3:58
16."Fragile"  1:18
17."Mannequin"  2:37
18."Different to Me"Annette Green 0:43
19."Champs"  1:46
20."Feeling Called Love"Newman 1:22
21."12 X U"Gilbert, Lewis 1:55

* The bonus tracks were removed from the 2006 remastered reissues, because, according to the band, they did not honour the "conceptual clarity of the original statements".[22] The tracks were also left off both editions of Pink Flag's 2018 remaster, but can be found on the 2018 deluxe reissue of Chairs Missing.

2018 Special Edition[edit]

The first disc of the Special Edition contains the twenty-one tracks from the original album.


Credits adapted from the liner notes of the 2018 Special Edition.[20]


Additional personnel and production

  • Kate Lukas – flute on "Strange"
  • Dave Oberlé – backing vocals on "Mannequin"
  • Mike Thorne – production, piano on "Reuters", backing vocals on "Reuters" and "Mr. Suit", flute arrangement on "Strange", electric piano on "Options R"
  • Paul Hardiman – engineer
  • Ken Thomas – assistant engineer
  • David Dragon – art direction
  • Annette Green – front and back cover photography
  • Richard Bray – back cover photography
  • Lynda House – back cover photography
  • Tim Chacksfield – project co-ordination (1994 reissue)
  • Phil Smee – packaging (1994 reissue)
  • Denis Blackhamremastering (2006 and 2018 reissue)
  • Jon Wozencroft – art direction (2018 reissue)
  • Jon Savage – liner notes (2018 reissue)
  • Graham Duff – liner notes (2018 reissue)


  1. ^ Neate, Wilson (2008). Wire's Pink Flag. 33⅓. London: A & C Black. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-826-42914-8. ISBN 0-82642914-9.
  2. ^ a b Grow, Kory (20 March 2017). "Wire Reflect on 40 Years as Punk's Ultimate Cult Band". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Pink Flag – Wire". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 22 March 2019 – via
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Wire". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Tangari, Joe (5 May 2006). "Wire: Pink Flag / Chairs Missing / 154". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  7. ^ Harris, John (July 2018). "Dawning of a New Era". Q. No. 386. pp. 120–21.
  8. ^ Gross, Joe (2004). "Wire". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 883–84. ISBN 0-743-20169-8.
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Wire". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. p. 270. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  10. ^ "Wire: Pink Flag". Uncut. No. 106. March 2006. p. 106.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (27 March 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  12. ^ "Wire". Trouser Press. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  13. ^ Accolades archived at Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
    - Larkin, Colin (1994). All Time Top 1000 Albums. Guinness World Records. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-851-12786-6. ISBN 0-85112786-X. Abrasive and disjointed, these 21 tracks exude a fury impossible to ignore and one enhanced by their very brevity.
    - Heatley, Michael; Lester, Paul; Roberts, Chris (1998). Du Noyer, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Albums. Bristol: Dempsey Parr. ISBN 978-1-840-84031-5. ISBN 1-84084031-5. The artily unintelligible lyrics and dense production marked Wire out as a sort of New Wave Roxy Music" (p. 170)
    - Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2005]. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Hachette UK. ISBN 1-84403714-2. ISBN 978-1-844-03714-8. The most original album of punk's first wave....The resulting sound was far colder and more brutal than anything else around at the time.
    -NME (January 2006). 100 Greatest British Albums Ever!. Pink Flag was placed no. 83. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  14. ^ Rolling Stone staff (31 May 2012). "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 412: Pink Flag - Wire. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  15. ^ Barker, Emily (23 October 2013). "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 400-301 - NME". NME. 378: Pink Flag - Wire. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  16. ^ Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies. London: Ebury Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-091-89745-1. ISBN 0-09189745-9.
  17. ^ Pitchfork staff (23 June 2004). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  18. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2005]. Elastica's borrowing from "Three Girl Rhumba" for 1994's "Connection".
  19. ^ Q magazine, April 2012 issue.
  20. ^ a b "Pink Flag (2018 Special Edition)". Retrieved on 5 May 2019.
  21. ^ a b Neate, Wilson (2013). Read & Burn: A book about Wire. London: Jawbone Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-90827-933-0.
  22. ^ Villeneuve, Phil (11 April 2006). "Wire Reissuing First Three LPs and Early Live Recordings". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.

Informational notes[edit]

  1. ^ The songwriting credits for Pink Flag have been modified on all reissues since 2006.[21] All tracks were originally credited to Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis, Colin Newman and Robert Gotobed, except "Different To Me", which was credited to Annette Green.
  2. ^ "Options R" was credited to Lewis alone on all pre-2006 releases.[21]

External links[edit]