Wire – Pink Flag (1977)

Far from the politically engaged and/or nihilist alarums of the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Jam, the minimalist, fragmented music launched by the London art school students of Wire in 1976 sounded more like caustic laughter in the dark… and above all, like nothing else on the scene, with its unexpected chord changes, tracks abandoned in mid-stream and endlessly wrong-footing tempo shifts. Their rock detonation was as ironic and offbeat as the tracklisting: 21 fragmented songs in less than 36 minutes! Hoisted aloft in November 1977, Wire’s Pink Flag – not the black standard so de rigueur at the time – strapped angular melodies to dissonant, rhythmic guitars stretched as taut as steel cables. The posture was arch and arty, the band name lacking the mythical weight of their colleagues of the day… but in hindsight, Wire and their iconic debut album brought a simply immense influence to bear on indie rock for years to follow. 

Public Image Ltd. – Metal Box (1979)

With Metal Box, the Sex Pistols wall-of-guitar seemed like a very distant echo indeed… In his new project, Johnny Rotten – re-re-christened John Lydon – pioneered the long, painful soundtrack of a martial New Wave with a glacial groove. Driven by Jah Wobble’s bottomless bass and lacerated by Keith Levene’s slashing guitar riffs, the groundbreaking second album by Public Image Ltd. gave birth to a post-punk dub, frosty funk and (f)rigid rock. The former Pistol brayed like a possessed muezzin, drilling eardrums even more than on Never Mind the Bollocks, the sole legendary album by his previous group. Initially released as three 12-inch singles in actual metal film cannisters, Metal Box stepped on the broken shards of the Krautrock of Neu! and Can, standing above all as the precursor of a punk-funk sound that would resonate in the years to come…