Wir ‎– The First Letter

Mute ‎– cdstumm87
CD, Album

Tracklist Hide Credits

1 Take It (For Greedy) 3:14
2 So And Slow It Grows 5:13
3 A Bargain At 3 And 20 Yeah! 2:55
4 Footsi - Footsi 4:55
5 Ticking Mouth 6:31
6 It Continues 4:33
7 Looking At Me (Stop!) 4:12
8 Naked, Whooping And Such-Like (Extended On And On)
Narrator [Reading By] – Claude Bessey*Words By – Lewis*
9 Tailor Made 3:48
10 No Cows On The Ice 4:16
11 A Big Glue Canal 4:09
12 So And Slow It Grows (Single Mix)
Engineer – George HoltProducer [Additional], Mixed By [Additional] – Pascal Gabriel

Companies, etc.



Particular thanks to: M.J.Collins, Bryan Grant, Philli Whinstanley, Claude Bessey, Daniel Miller, Mac, Jo, Kenman, Pepe's, Claire Phillips, David Phillips, Stretchheads, Pascale, Douglas Brothers, Ron Young, Piquet, Casio.

Published by Mute Song. Recorded at Worldwide. Track 12 additional production, mix and engineering at Swanyard Recording Studios.

On CD: ℗ + © 1991 Mute Records Ltd
In Booklet: ℗ + © 1991 Mute Records Limited

Jewel case edition with double foldout eight page booklet.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode (Text): 5 016025 610877
  • Barcode (String): 5016025610877
  • Matrix / Runout: CDSTUMM-87 12 A2 DADC AUSTRIA

Other Versions (5 of 10) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
30908 Wir The First Letter(CD) Mute 30908 France 1991 Sell This Version
INT 146.876 Wir The First Letter(LP, Album) Mute INT 146.876 Germany 1991 Sell This Version
cstumm87 Wir The First Letter(Cass, Album) Mute cstumm87 UK 1991 Sell This Version
INT 846.876, CDStumm87 Wir The First Letter(CD, Album) Mute, Mute INT 846.876, CDStumm87 Germany 1991 Sell This Version
cdstumm87 Wir The First Letter(CD, Album, RE) Mute cdstumm87 UK Unknown Sell This Version


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February 27, 2018
"Ticking Mouth" features a very rare lead vocal on a Wire track from Bruce Gilbert. The only other examples are "The Other Window" (the "154" version only - not the Peel Session) - "Half Eaten" from "Send" - and the spoken phrase "Which Way Michael?" from the criminally overlooked 1988 B-Side "Pieta".


June 18, 2015
edited over 3 years ago
By far, the most criminally underrated item in the Wir(e) catalog. A crying shame—it's amazing to me that no one has commented on this release after so many years in the musical wilderness. Time to set the record (CD) straight & address this very issue. Can I be completely objective regarding "The First Letter"? The jury's out, as I've been an unabashed Wir(e) nut ever since they started, and have followed their various styles pretty religiously over the years. I remain wholly enamored with their 80s/90s electronic phase, and much prefer the recordings of that period to their earlier, oft-regarded 'classics' (though by no means do I dismiss those great recordings; simply that the following decades' work tends to be spun more regularly around these parts). As Wire's experimentations in sound & texture expanded its remit, I found myself getting more & more fascinated where they were in fact going. Despite the decision for Robert (Grey) Gotobed to leave prior to "The First Letter" sessions (finding his role as a drummer/percussionist rendered moot), the end result is that the subsequent recording is, simply put, a masterpiece. Yes, this will be a debated subject both within & around the Wire cognoscenti, but, for this reviewer frankly, with "TFL", the remaining trio came up with some of the most brilliant sound design of their career, generally eclipsing much of what would eventually be christened 'electronica' or IDM in the later years (and foreshadowing Colin Newman's eventual embracing of technology full-on with the inauguration of his Swim label). With its absolutely deft, continuously astonishing rhythm & synth programming, clever lyrics & vocal interplay, and uniquely forged compositions, "The First Letter" transcends 'rock'/post-rock/whatever, occupying a genre all its own. The overall sound design never ceases to amaze: Newman & Graham Lewis's idiosyncratic voices make for yet another definable piece of the album's many puzzles; the sheer wealth of sounds on hand tickle the ear & warp the mind. It's pop muzik for the 30th century, futuristic & prescient simultaneously—its sonic imprimatur hasn't aged a day. Even after more (re)plays than I can count, the album still retains the eardrum buzz that marks the group's finest work. Ignore the naysayers, hell, even Newman's own casual dismissal of its importance; "The First Letter" is both a marvel & a triumph.