Post-punk band Wire Train remains one of the lesser known bands of the early '80s to emerge from the fertile San Francisco music scene, and listening to just a small sample of the group's work, I have no idea why. Of course, hardcore legends Dead Kennedys made a lot more noise around this time - both figuratively and literally - and more melodic contemporaries Romeo Void and Translator made a much more pronounced mark on the decade's music landscape. While I'm a fan of all three of those bands, I hate that their success and notoriety apparently came at the expense of a sophisticated ensemble like Wire Train. I'm not surprised that somehow '80s pop/rock had room for Taco but not Wire Train, but I must admit it's a continuous source of frustration.
As the lead-off track from the band's 1984 debut album, In a Chamber, "I'll Do You" wastes no time presenting Wire Train as a tight, tuneful outfit that manages to sound neither American, British or European. This achievement is notable not so much in terms of the artificial strictures of nationality but because the layers of richness in the song's performance and production are so primally and broadly satisfying. This band certainly sported a bit of a new wave look, but Kevin Hunter's commanding vocal style stretched far beyond such ultimately limiting signifiers. None of this explains why Wire Train never hit it even remotely big, but unfortunately the varying audience responses to genuine quality in arts and entertainment has never established a habit of making sense.
- Listen to the entire song and watch the music video for "I'll Do You" here.
- Compare prices on Wire Train CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia