Say It's Your Birthday: Wire's Graham Lewis

Remember? "Wire, wire pants on fire." That was the battle

cry back in 1977 when four English students came together as Wire, punk's first

post-punk band. It was a cry laced with an overdose of irony; what Wire brought

to the fiery punk party was their cool, art school detachment. The frustration

these four young men experience was aesthetic, not socio-economic. They were

also extremely clever, and cleverness was never exactly the strong suit of punk

icons like Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 or Sid Viscous of the Pistols. If anything,

perhaps Wire were a bit too clever--their ironic minimalism attracted minimal

sales, though they continue to be cited as an influence by subsequent art

school dropouts like Michael Stipe. (And their influence on '90s bands like

Elastica goes without saying.)On the occasion of bassist Graham Lewis' 43rd

birthday, we recommend you sample 154. This Wire album was released in

1979, and Lewis-sung tracks like "Should Have Known Better," and "The Other

Window" are a good primer for the direction the band would take, when, after a

five year hiatus, the four resumed their partnership. Other birthdays today are

New Orleans R&B singer, Ernie K-Doe, Michael Wilton (Queensryche), and the 19th

century pianist Frederick

Chopin.