A Houseguest's Wish: Translations of Wire's 'Outdoor Miner'

[CD released November 2004]
A Houseguest's Wish is Words On Music's 25th Anniversary tribute to the seminal Wire song, "Outdoor Miner." Released in 1979 as a 7" single (and appearing in a more skeletal version on their Chairs Missing LP), fans and critics have long regarded Outdoor Miner as one of Wire's finest moments — and one of their rare early excursions into unbridled, sugar-coated pop.

The Outdoor Miner single was poised to be Wire's breakthrough song in their native England in 1979 until the British Market Research Bureau, compilers of the BBC charts, withdrew the single on allegations EMI had improperly hyped the single's sales. As a result, Wire narrowly missed appearing on the influential Top Of The Pops television program, and remained a band with credible cult status but no hit records. On the Silver Anniversary of Outdoor Miner's release, Words On Music sets free this brilliant pop song once more through a full-length album tribute. Choosing a single Wire song for this novel project is particularly apt in light of the band's 1991 album The Drill — which contains nine reworkings of the title track.

Words On Music has assembled interpretations by 19 artists from five countries (Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Canada, USA) into one stunning and diverse collection. This novel project translates Outdoor Miner into folk (England's Sharron Kraus), blues (Christian Kiefer), punk (Germany's Boy Division), an intimate orchestral ballad (above the orange trees) noise-rock (England's Flying Saucer Attack), postrock (Timonium), twee (Laura Watling), and even a clarinet-escorted instrumental (Should).

Featured appearances on this tribute include an acoustic excursion by Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin, a buoyant pop rendition by Typewriter (Lucy Show singer Mark Bandola), Lush's dazzling and energetic 1991 recording, and the Beach Boys harmony-laden rendering by Kick On The Floods — the new project by For Stars singer Carlos Forster.

Outdoor Miner's strange subject matter — that of the leaf-dwelling serpentine miner insect — was once described by Wire singer and bassist Graham Lewis as their 'least commercial lyric.' But by integrating such impenetrable words into what is otherwise an extremely hummable, catchy pop song, Outdoor Miner transcends niche, cult-song status: it is a fertile composition capable of metamorphosis.

It's a strange concept to put 19 versions of the same song on one disc, but Wire's "Outdoor Miner" is among the only songs that could stand up to such mass redundancy. It's open to 19 such fundamentally different interpretations because Wire themselves were so open-ended and so multi-dimensional despite their totally compact, austere arrangements. You could go anywhere from there, and all of these folks have. Everything here is rather good.
-- Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover

I love it. This is a very great album. That's all you need to know.
-- Tasty (UK)

A Houseguest's Wish is a grand celebration of Wire's songwriting capabilities and these artists' interpretative powers. Most importantly it succeeds at illustrating the song's versatility, how powerful it can be in so many different settings.
-- Erasing Clouds

An ambitious project (and) a refreshing kick in the corduroys.
-- Reed Fischer, CMJ New Music Monthly

A tribute album to just one particular song is as interesting as it is daring. Over its hour-long running time, A Houseguest's Wish manages to stay fresh. A highly enjoyable experience.
-- Adrien Begrand, Pop Matters

Bust out the champagne. It is amazing and refreshing to see this much variety.
-- Grant Capes, IndieWorkshop.com

VARIOUS ARTISTS A Houseguest's Wish

1. Adam Franklin (4.01)
2. Titania (2.02)
3. Kick On The Floods (3.04)
4. Timonium (4.52)
5. Polar (4.24)
6. Typewriter (2.29)
7. Fiel Garvie (3.41)
8. Lush (2.47)
9. Experimental Aircraft (3.01)
10. above the orange trees (5.27)
11. Christian Kiefer (1.45)
12. Flying Saucer Attack (2.39)
13. Boy Division (1.36)
14. Sharron Kraus (3.26)
15. The Meeting Places (2.47)
16. Laura Watling (2.37)
17. Should (3.55)
18. The Sems (2.47)
19. Junetile (3.49)

  [Wire homepage]
  [bios of artists on this release]