Return Of The Iron Butterfly, Greil Marcus

Wire: Snakedrill. Active in London from 1977 to 1980, this foursome sometimes played songs lasting under a minute, but even the longest were as gnomic as that gesture. A wash of repetition disguised careful sonic choices, and the edge of the music, and the moment, was never redid, merely removed from the obvious: “I am the fly—the fly in the ointment” was Wire’s version of “I am an antichrist.” On this EP, the group’s first recording in years, neither the sound nor the role-playing has changed. “’A Serious of Snakes’” starts off with some punning on “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” and the title tells you who the Gardener is; weaving a dramatically modulated melody around the conceit, Wire seems as implacable, as mysterious, and as new as it did a decade ago. I take this to mean not that Wire was ahead of its time, but that Wire caught its time, and that time has stood still—that the chiliastic voice found in London in the first year of punk has hardly been answered, let alone superseded.


“Real Life Rock Top Ten,” Village Voice, January 13, 1987
Ranters and Crowd Pleasers, Anchor, 1993. Published by Doubleday, (c) 1993 by Greil Marcus. Reprinted with permission of The Wendy Weil Agency, Inc.