Post-punk legends Wire once recorded a bizarre, experimental and highly controversial live album in 1980, after the release of their classic album 154, at the Electric Ballroom, titled Document and Eyewitness. The band’s setlist (a heavy portion of which was reworked for last year’s Change Becomes Us) was composed mostly of new and under-rehearsed material, and it didn’t go over particularly well with the crowd. Some reacted with hostility, and this didn’t entirely have to do with the music itself; the band incorporated elements of performance art into the show, including wearing morris-dancing bells, beekeeper’s veils, beating a gas cooker with a hammer and other odd props and stunts.
However, the recording of the album has gained somewhat legendary status, perhaps because of how poorly the show was received, but more likely because of the bold art-rock sounds the group was exploring at the time. On Aug. 18, Wire’s Pink Flag label will reissue the album as a double-LP, featuring the original tracklist, as well as bonus material from other — more straightforward — band gigs recorded in 1979. Check out the tracklist below.
Wire Document and Eyewitness reissue:
2. 12XU (Fragment)
3. Underwater Experiences
4. Everything’s Going to Be Nice
5. Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars)
6. We Meet Under Tables
7. ZEGK HOQP
8. Eastern Standard
9. Instrumental (Thrown Bottle)
10. Eels Sang Lino
11. Revealing Trade Secrets
12. And Then… Coda
13. Go Ahead
14. Ally in Exile
16. Underwater Experiences
17. Witness to the Fact
18. Two People in a Room
19. Our Swimmer
21. Our Swimmer
22. Midnight Bahnhof Cafe
23. Second Length (Our Swimmer)
24. Catapult 30
Tracks 13-19 from Notre Dame Hall. Track 20 from Montreux. Tracks 21-22 from “Our Swimmer” (1981) single. Tracks 23-24 from an unreleased 1981 single.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.