Colin Newman

Colin Newman (born Sept. 16, 1954) is an English musician, vocalist, and songwriter from Salisbury, Wiltshire, best known as the frontman of post-punks Wire through three periods of activity. He made three 1977–79 studio albums with Wire and launched his solo career with the 1980 Beggars Banquet release A-Z, followed by the 1981–82 4AD albums Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish and Not To. As Wire commenced its second phase, he released the 1986–88 Crammed Discs albums Commercial Suicide and It Seems.


A-Z

Colin Newman released his debut solo album, A-Z, in October 1980 on Beggars Banquet. It features ten originals conceived for a fourth Wire studio album, including co-writes with Wire bassist Graham Lewis (“Alone”) and One 45 auxiliary guitarist–bassist Desmond Simmons (“& Jury”), who forms the A-Z rhythm section with Wire drummer Robert Gotobed. Producer Mike Thorne plays keyboards on the album, which features Charles Bullen of This Heat on “Troisieme.”

1. “I’ve Waited Ages” (5:05)
2. “& Jury” (2:47)
3. “Alone” (3:57)
4. “Order for Order” (2:44)
5. “Image” (4:18)
6. “Life on Deck” (3:12)

7. “Troisieme” (4:09)
8. “S-S-S-Star Eyes” (2:09)
9. “Seconds to Last” (7:07)
10. “Inventory” (2:11)
11. “But No” (3:06)
12. “B” (2:58)

Studio Scorpio, London, England
Producer Mike Thorne

A. Newman – album cover
Harvey Goldberg – engineering
Dennis Weinreich – engineering
Steve Parker – engineering
Malti Kidia – sleeve layout and typography
Jack Skinner – cutting

Newman lifted “B” as a single backed with the non-album “Classic Remains” and a solo piano rendition of “Alone.”

B1. “Classic Remains” (3:52)
B2. “Alone On Piano” (1:56)

In March 1981, Newman lifted “Inventory” as the second A-Z single backed with the non-album “This Picture,” a self-produced track.

B. “This Picture” (3:31)

In 1988, Beggars Banquet reissued A-Z as a seventeen-track CD with the twelve album tracks plus the three b-sides and the 1980 demonstration tracks “Not Me” and “Don’t Bring Reminders.”

16. “Not Me” (2:39)
17. “Don’t Bring Reminders” (2:22) Newman re-recorded this song for his third solo album Not To.


Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish

Colin Newman released his second solo album, Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish, in June 1981 on 4AD. It features twelve numerical tracks titled “Fish” (one through twelve). Newman self-performed the album apart from “Fish Nine,” which features Wire and A-Z drummer Robert Gotobed. Apart from ‘mouth noise,’ Provisionally Entitled is an instrumental album.

1. “Fish One” (2:31)
2. “Fish Two” (1:49)
3. “Fish Three” (3:04)
4. “Fish Four” (4:58)
5. “Fish Fiver” (4:05)
6. “Fish Six” (2:17)

7. “Fish Seven” (2:30)
8. “Fish Eight” (4:07)
9. “Fish Nine” (3:45)
10. “Fish Ten” (3:01)
11. “Fish Eleven” (1:58)
12. “Fish Twelve” (3:34)

Studio Scorpio, London, England
Producer Colin Newman
Colin Newman – cover and production
Steve Parker – engineering


Not To

Colin Newman released his third solo album, Not To, in January 1982 on 4AD. Like A-Z, multiple songs stem from the aborted 1980 fourth Wire album, including the leftover Wire group-write “5/10” and Newman’s co-writes with Wire guitarist Bruce Gilbert (“Remove for Improvement”) and bassist Graham Lewis (“Safe,” “Don’t Bring Me Reminders”).

Side Two contains “Indians,” which Newman joint-wrote with his current backing players: bassist Simon Gillham, drummer (and Wire colleague) Robert Gotobed, and A-Z multi-instrumentalist Desmond Simmons, who plays guitars, piano, and recorder. In addition to guitar and piano, Newman plays tabla, vibes, and percussion on Not To, which closes with the Beatles cover “Blue Jay Way.”

1. “Lorries” (3:51)
2. “Don’t Bring Me Reminders” (3:27)
3. “You Me and Happy” (2:37)
4. “We Meet Under Tables” (3:47)
5. “Safe” (2:34)
6. “Truculent Yet” (3:49)

7. “5/10” (3:32)
8. “1, 2, 3, Beep Beep” (2:14)
9. “Not To” (3:33)
10. “Indians!” (3:05) features Gilbert on “guest greatest hits guitar.”
11. “Remove for Improvement” (4:07)
12. “Blue Jay Way” (3:11) is a song by George Harrison that originated on The Beatles’ 1967 soundtrack release Magical Mystery Tour.

Studio Scorpio, London, England
Colin Newman – producer
Steve Parker – engineering

4AD lifted “We Means We Starts” as a single (b/w “Not To”).


Commercial Suicide

Colin Newman released his fourth solo album, Commercial Suicide, in October 1986 on Crammed Discs. Newman collaborates with Minimal Compact multi-instrumentalist Malka Spigel, Colin’s personal partner who plays bass, guitar, and piano.

Contrabassist Andre Klenes and keyboardist–percussionist Sean Bonnar back Newman on Commercial Suicide, which features a four-piece string section and six-piece brass and reeds section.

1. “Their Terrain” (5:01)
2. “2-Sixes” (5:17)
3. “Metarkest” (5:12)
4. “But I…” (4:53)
5. “Commercial Suicide” (4:02)
6. “I’m Still Here” (3:47)
7. “Feigned Hearing” (4:02)
8. “Can I Explain The Delay?” (4:55)
9. “I Can Hear Your…” (4:46)

Producer – Colin Newman
Technician [Digital Consultant] – Patrick Codenys
Engineer – Gilles Martin
Arranged By – Colin Newman, Sean Bonnar
Effects [Treatments] – Gilles Martin

Clarinet – Dirk Descheemaeker
Flute, Piccolo Flute – Pierre Coulon
French Horn – Rino Christ
Oboe – Stefaan Verdegem
Trombone – Michiel Deylius
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Leader [Brass Co-ordinator] – Luc Van Lieshout

Cello – Claudine Staanackers
Viola – Wiet Van De Leest
Violin [1st], Leader [String Co-ordinator] – Jeannot Gillis
Violin [2nd] – Jacqueline Rosenfeld


It Seems

Colin Newman released his fifth solo album, It Seems, in May 1988 on Crammed Discs. Newman retains Commercial Suicide backers John Bonnar and (Colin’s now-wife) Malka Spigel along with earlier drummer-sideman (and renewed Wire bandmate) Robert Gotobed.

It Seems features eleven originals, including co-writes with Malka (“Round and Round”), Bonnar (“It Seems,” “An Impressive Beginning,” “Better Late Than Never”), and both (“Rite of Life”). Sessions took place in Brussels with a four-piece brass section that includes clarinetist Marc Hollander, a veteran Belgian band-leader (Aksak Maboul, Honeymoon Killers).

1. “Quite Unrehearsed” (4:16)
2. “Can’t Help Being” (3:25)
3. “Rite of Life” (3:36)
4. “An Impressive Beginning” (3:32)
5. “It Seems” (4:02)
6. “Better Late Than Never” (4:16)
7. “Not Being in Warsaw” (4:14)
8. “At Rest” (4:01)
9. “Convolutions” (3:22)
10. “Round and Round” (4:11)
11. “Si Tu Attends” (“If You Wait,” 3:52) features French lyrics by one Angelo.

Newman co-produced It Seems at Brussels’ Daylight Studios with engineer Giles Martin.

Colin Newman – instruments, vocals
Malka Spigel – instruments, vocals
John Bonnar – instruments, vocals
Robert Gotobed – drums

Luc van Lieshout – trumpet
Rino Christ – French horn
Jean-Paul Danhier – trombone
Marc Hollander – clarinet


Discography:

  • A-Z (1980)
  • Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish (1981)
  • Not To (1982)
  • Commercial Suicide (1986)
  • It Seems (1988)

Sources:

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