Pink Flag is the debut studio album by English rock band Wire.[5] It was released in November 1977[6] by Harvest Records. The album gained Wire a cult following within independent and post-punk music upon its initial release, later growing to be highly influential on many other musicians.[5]

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

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [7]
Christgau's Record GuideA[8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [9]
The Great Rock Discography8/10[10]
MusicHound Rock     [11]
Q     [13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [14]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[15]
Uncut     [16]

Reviewing in 1978 for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called Pink Flag a "punk suite", praised its "simultaneous rawness and detachment" and detected a rock-and-roll irony similar to, but "much grimmer and more frightening" than, the Ramones.[17] In a 1978 Trouser Press review, Ira Robbins said that "Wire [push] minimalism to new heights" and said the band "dredges up images of...beat poetry--short fragments of impressions set to music." Robbins said that the 21 tracks are "not songs...There's no easy structure or meter. Each explores or describes or electrifies or challenges. There's no easy listening." He concluded, "I can't say this is an enjoyable album. Maybe it's just a stupid bit of rubbish. But you won't know unless you find out."[18]

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."[7] Retrospectively, 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".[19] Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari summarized the album as "a fractured snapshot of punk alternately collapsing in on itself and exploding into song-fragment shrapnel."[12]


Although the album was released to critical acclaim,[20] 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[21] – jumping up to number 310 in its 2020 edition[22] – and at number 378 in NME's list of the same name in 2013.[23] Music journalist Stuart Maconie described it as "extraordinary" by the standards of the time at which it was produced.[24] Pitchfork ranked Pink Flag number 22 in its list "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s".[25] 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".[26] Graham Coxon of Blur cited Pink Flag as an influence on his eighth studio album A+E.[27]

Track listingEdit

Credits adapted from the 2018 Special Edition.[28][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
CD reissues bonus tracks*
22."Dot Dash" (1994 reissue, 1978 single A-side) 2:25
23."Options R" (1989 and 1994 reissues, 1978 single B-side)Lewis, Newman[nb 2]1:36

* 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".[30] 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 EditionEdit

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

Disc two (Demos and Alternative Recordings)
1."The Commercial" (First demo session, May 1977, EMI Studios, London)0:51
2."Mr. Suit" (First demo session, May 1977, EMI Studios, London)1:32
3."Pink Flag" (First demo session, May 1977, EMI Studios, London)2:34
4."Surgeon's Girl" (Second demo session, May 1977, Riverside Studios, London)1:38
5."Field Day for the Sundays" (Second demo session, May 1977, Riverside Studios, London)0:32
6."106 Beats That" (Second demo session, May 1977, Riverside Studios, London)1:15
7."Fragile" (Second demo session, May 1977, Riverside Studios, London)1:14
8."Reuters" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)2:23
9."Different to Me" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)0:45
10."Ex Lion Tamer" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)2:09
11."Mannequin" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)3:03
12."Champs" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)1:57
13."Start to Move" (Third demo session, August 1977, Riverside Studios, London)1:14
14."Three Girl Rhumba" (Alternative mix, September–October 1977, Advision Studios, London)1:23
15."Ex Lion Tamer" (Alternative mix, September–October 1977, Advision Studios, London)2:05
16."12 X U" (Mono mix, September–October 1977, Advision Studios, London)1:47
17."Mannequin" (Mono mix, September–October 1977, Advision Studios, London)2:36
18."It's So Obvious" (Alternative mix, September–October 1977, Advision Studios, London)0:51


Credits adapted from the liner notes of the 2018 Special Edition.[28]


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. ^ (the official Wire website) - Us
  2. ^ Stegall, Tim (3 October 2019). "Top 15 punk LPs of 1977 that undeniably defined the year". Alternative Press. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  3. ^ Hart, Ron (21 June 2018). "Wire Looks Back on Its Pioneering Art Punk Trilogy". Billboard. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  4. ^ Neate, Wilson (2009). Wire's Pink Flag. 33⅓. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-4411-1001-5.
  5. ^ a b Grow, Kory (20 March 2017). "Wire Reflect on 40 Years as Punk's Ultimate Cult Band". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  6. ^ Neate, Wilson (2008). Wire's Pink Flag. 33⅓. London: A & C Black. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-826-42914-8.
  7. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Pink Flag – Wire". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Boston: Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 22 March 2019 – via
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Wire". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  10. ^ Martin C. Strong (1998). The Great Rock Discography (1st ed.). Canongate Books. ISBN 978-0-86241-827-4.
  11. ^ Gary Graff, ed. (1996). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (1st ed.). London: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 978-0-7876-1037-1.
  12. ^ a b Tangari, Joe (5 May 2006). "Wire: Pink Flag / Chairs Missing / 154". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  13. ^ Harris, John (July 2018). "Dawning of a New Era". Q. No. 386. pp. 120–21.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Weisbard, Eric (1995). "Wire". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 435–37. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  16. ^ "Wire: Pink Flag". Uncut. No. 106. March 2006. p. 106.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (27 March 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  18. ^ Robbins, Ira (April 1978). "Wire: Pink Flag". Trouser Press. Vol. 5, no. 3. New York. p. 40. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  19. ^ DeRogatis, Jim; Neate, Wilson. "Wire". Trouser Press. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  20. ^ 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. 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. The artily unintelligible lyrics and dense production marked Wire out as a sort of New Wave Roxy Music" (p. 170) {{cite book}}: External link in |quote= (help)
    - Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2005]. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Hachette UK. ISBN 978-1-84403714-8. 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. {{cite book}}: External link in |quote= (help)
    -NME (January 2006). 100 Greatest British Albums Ever!. Pink Flag was placed no. 83. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  21. ^ Rolling Stone staff (31 May 2012). "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 412: Pink Flag – Wire. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  22. ^ Rolling Stone staff (22 September 2020). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 December 2020. This first-generation U.K. punk band made sparse tunes that erupted in combustible snippets on its 21-track debut album. America never got it, but Pink Flag — as revolutionary discs tend to do — influenced some important bands, including Sonic Youth and the Minutemen. It also might be one of the most-covered punk LPs ever: Minor Threat did “12XU,” R.E.M. did “Strange,” the New Bomb Turks did “Mr. Suit,” Spoon did “Lowdown,” the Lemonheads did “Fragile,” and on and on.
  23. ^ Barker, Emily (23 October 2013). "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 400–301". NME. 378: Pink Flag – Wire. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  24. ^ Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider with Roadies. London: Ebury Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-091-89745-1.
  25. ^ Pitchfork staff (23 June 2004). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. p. 8. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  26. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2005]. Elastica's borrowing from "Three Girl Rhumba" for 1994's "Connection".
  27. ^ "The Soundtrack of My Life: Graham Coxon". Q. No. 309. April 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Pink Flag (2018 Special Edition)". Retrieved on 5 May 2019.
  29. ^ a b Neate, Wilson (2013). Read & Burn: A Book About Wire. London: Jawbone Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-90827-933-0.
  30. ^ 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 notesEdit

  1. ^ The songwriting credits for Pink Flag have been modified on all reissues since 2006.[29] 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.[29]

External linksEdit