Wire’s Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, 154, and On Returning LP sleeves

1977, 1978, 1979, 1989, each 32.5 x 32.5 cm

These are Wire’s first three albums from the end of the 1970s, plus one compilation from a decade later. Each of the first three has its own independent anecdote. For example, immediately after the band had decided on Pink Flag as the title for their debut, they played a gig in the British seaside town of Plymouth, and were walking along the seafront the following morning when they came across a perfect solitary pink flag flapping against a spotless blue sky, which they photographed immediately (a good example of designing backwards rather than laterally). But the best thing about these albums is the Best-of, On Returning, compiled ten years after 154. Although Wire had an extensive output in-between, this compilation collected tracks exclusively from those first three, and so the cover similarly montages all three original covers together to form a new composite. It’s a good example of one of those ideas so perfectly obvious that it’s almost reflexively overlooked.

– “Never Mind the Bollocks (After Jamie Reid),” Stuart Bailey, Dot Dot Dot #11, 2005