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Thursday, September 16, 2010

182. "German Shepherds" by Laika

This is Laika's cover of a Wire song. Being fairly obsessed with both Wire and Laike, I found this a cool thing when it came out, but I in no way anticipated it leading to Laika frontwoman Margaret Fiedler joining Wire on tour when Bruce Gilbert bowed out, some thirty years down the line. But that's not the point. What's kind of funny, but also not the point, is how seeing the cover to this Wire tribute album (which was also the home of just about the only real My Bloody Valentine recording of note to surface since Loveless) reminded me of something Margaret wrote in the liner notes to a Laika compilation this track eventually appeared on, sarcastically noting how "charmingly titled" the tribute album was.

And she has a point: Whore is a totally lame title. It relates to Wire's thematic concerns in very few particulars, and I can't even think of an instance in which they used the word in their lyrics. It may have been an attempt to play on the band's name, but it neither really looks nor sounds especially like the word "Wire". That said, it's funny if Margaret was trying to say it was a bit offensive, because within the first lines of her cover she takes Colin Newman's perfectly innocent if surreal lines about flying canines and changes them to "I saw two dogs fucking/There was a man on the end". That's my girl!

My version is based more closely on the Wire original, although you wouldn't know it to read the short list of instruments I used to create it.

Personnel: Rex

Cover art by Jeff Norman


  1. I always thought it was based on saying "whore" in more of a northern UK way, so it sounds like "who're". As in, "Who're these people?" as opposed to "Why're they doing this?" (Wire)

    I think I saw this explanation in print when the album came out, but I might have imagined that, or whoever wrote it might have made it up. It is, it seems to me, the sort of weirdly flat wordplay Wire would have engaged in. (And I say this as a huge fan of their music.)

  2. It is, and when it really comes down to it, Wire might well do their Wire thing to any given word and in context it almost always takes on some unexpected relevance. I think my belated feeling that it's a bit incongruous comes partly from Margaret's comment about it, and partly from how, at the time that record was released, it seemed like there were a lot of far lesser but higher profile acts rather blithely using terms like whore, rape, and their attendant obscenities as shorthand for "we're badass but in a deep way", something Wire never had to bother with. Not a big deal at all to me, just an amusing (to me) sign of how perhaps overly much attention I pay to Wire and Laika.