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Music / Pink Flag

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Don't get swept under; a number's a number.

Pink Flag is the 1977 debut album by Art Punk band Wire. It took the basic ethos of Punk Rock and stripped it down even further: tracks ran as short as 1 minute, or even 30 seconds, the songs were played at blistering speed, songs didn't always "end" so much as "stop", some tracks barely used more than two chords, and the overall composition from the instruments to the vocals was cold and detached.

Often seen as their defining statement, the album was hugely influential to the Post-Punk, Alternative Rock, and Hardcore Punk of The '80s, the single "12 X U" in particular being one of the forerunners of Hardcore Punk.

The band would add electronics and Progressive Rock influences to their sound for their sophomore effort Chairs Missing, thereby becoming Trope Codifiers of Post-Punk, but they would never sound like Pink Flag ever again.


Side One
  1. "Reuters" (3:03)
  2. "Field Day for the Sundays" (0:28)
  3. "Three Girl Rhumba" (1:23)
  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" (1:17)
  10. "Pink Flag" (3:47)

Side Two

  1. "The Commercial" (0:49)
  2. "Straight Line" (0:44)
  3. "106 Beats That" (1:12)
  4. "Mr. Suit" (1:25)
  5. "Strange" (3:58)
  6. "Fragile" (1:18)
  7. "Mannequin" (2:37)
  8. "Different to Me" (0:43)
  9. "Champs" (1:46)
  10. "Feeling Called Love" (1:22)
  11. "12 X U" (1:56)

Stay glued to your TV tropes!

  • Affectionate Parody: "Brazil" is intended to be a parody of punk cliches at the time, such as extravagant metaphors ("Until they split the atom") and militarism (such as the chant of "LEFT-RIGHT" at the end).
  • Epic Rocking: At least by the standards of the band itself, "Strange" is this, at almost 4 minutes long—eight times the length of the shortest track!
  • Hardcore Punk: Trope Makers with the album overall, particularly "12 X U". The songs' brevity and aggression were heavily influential to Hardcore Punk bands such as Minor Threat.
  • Incredibly Long Note: The last word in "Reuters".
  • Instrumentals: "The Commercial".
  • Lighter and Softer: After the heavy first half of the album, the second includes Buzzcocks-like Pop Punk songs "Fragile" and "Mannequin".
  • Madness Mantra: "Pink Flag" ends with an extended sequence of the band screaming "HOW MANY?!" as the tempo continuously speeds up.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: A pink flag rose on a flat background.
  • Miniscule Rocking: One of the album's trademarks. The band never plays a song beyond what seems necessary, thus most songs last between 0:30 - 1:30. "Field Day for the Sundays" is only 0:28!
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Brazil", "106 Beats That", "Mannequin". Most of these titles relate to the content of the lyrics in some way, but a few are more oblique: "Brazil" refers to the samba-like groove of Gotobed's drum part, and "106 Beats That" was originally written to be 106 beats long.
  • One-Word Title: "Reuters", "Lowdown", "Brazil", "Strange", "Fragile", "Mannequin" and "Champs".
  • Post-Punk: The album is an Ur-Example with its cold and angular sound. The band would become Trope Codifiers with their next two albums.
  • Pun-Based Title: The "X" in "12 X U" is self-censorship for "fuck" (so "12 X U" = "want to fuck you").
  • Puppy Love: Parodied and deconstructed in "Brazil":
    It's true darling, I'll walk you home
    I'll be your date forever
    So many times, there's nothing left
    There's nothing left at all
  • Referenced by...: The riff from "Three Girl Rhumba" was lifted for the Elastica song "Connection", one of nine songs lifted by Elastica.
  • Shout-Out: "Ex Lion Tamer" mentions two popular TV duos—The Lone Ranger and Tonto, and Batman and Robin.
  • Signs of the End Times: "Reuters":
    Prices have risen since the government fell
    Casualties increase as the enemy shell
    The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive
    And sooner or later the end will arrive
    • And not to mention the Title Track:
      I was sold up the river to the red slave trade
      The stores were gathered, the plans were laid
      Synchronised watches at 18:05
      How many dead or alive
      In 1955?
  • Take That!: "Field Day for the Sundays" is one directed at tabloid journalism.
    I want to be a target for the dailies so they can show
    Pictures of me with a nude on page three
    So lacking in taste
    Touched up near the waist, looking as limp as Monday morning
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: "Feeling Called Love":
    What is this feeling called love?
    What is this crazy thing I can't explain anyhow?
  • Word Salad Title: "Three Girl Rhumba", "Ex Lion Tamer", "106 Beats That".