"Originally planned as Wire's fourth proper album, their former record company refused to release "A-Z" and dropped the band, so Colin decided to put it out under his name and settled down at Beggars Banquet, one of U.K.'s premier independent labels of the late-'70s/early-'80s. With band members Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis out of the picture -- they were working on their 'Dome' project and explored the leading edge of noise -- "A-Z" is less caustic and arty than the preceding "154" and relies more on conventional songcraft than on sonic extravaganzas. Surprisingly, the guitars rarely sound like rock guitars, and Mike Thorne's gentle, pointed electronics and effects add much to the album's drive. Colin remained a gifted songwriter with tastes in progressive rock, power pop, new wave, and even neo-classical ("Alone on piano"), and there are a couple of tracks here which match the best on Wire's classics "Pink flag" and "Chairs missing". The bouncy "&jury", the moody "Alone", as well as "Inventory" and "Don't bring.." are among the highlights. "Not me" was later covered by 4AD band This Mortal Coil for the album "It'll end in tears", and the instrumental "B" is more eccentric than any Wire song. There are a few tracks I always have to skip because Colin's singing is overdone and pathetic at times, distracting from the music's quality. But on the strength of all these great songs here, "A-Z" is absolutely worthwhile and stands out as Colin's most satisfying solo album."
Pop record blurred
DAC Crowell | 09/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sort of a Wire project, but not quite a Wire project, Colin Newman's 'A-Z' represents one of the two streams of artistic direction that came out of that band in its breakup. Lewis and Gilbert were heading in the direction of industrial/experimental music at the time of this release, and drummer Robert Gotobed was off pursuing dark electropop with Fad Gadget. So this left Colin Newman to turn out this wonderful release of rather bent-out-of-shape pop music. Much of what's here will seem familiar to those who've heard Wire's '154', although it seems to me that Newman is pursuing matters in a more 'composerly' direction by this point, making more extensive use of studio resources, and thereby increasing the sonic complexity of his music. There's a couple of tracks here that don't quite click, and Newman's vocals sometimes get a bit monotonous, but these really are the only flaws. Two of the tracks here ("Alone", "Not To") were later reworked by This Mortal Coil, and the former of those also made a rather creepy appearance in the soundtrack of 'The Silence of the Lambs'. Anyone who prefers more than a little atmosphere to their pop music really owes it to themselves to pick this up and give it a listen."
The 4th WIRE album??????
Warren BONES | Sydney | 12/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Colin Newman's strongest solo effort is very reminiscent of the 3rd WIRE album, 154, possibly because he used several of that album's collaborators [WIRE's drummer and 154's producer]. The songs are catchy, off-centre pop-rock in the main with eerie interludes like Alone, featured in Silence of the Lambs, rounding out the collection. If you're a fan of early WIRE you will really love this album."
Wire's 4th Album?
David Rutherford | Australia | 03/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very much a progression from '154' - perhaps more guitar driven and conventiomal than 'document & eyewitness' but well worth the purchase if you even remotely dig Wire.
Best songs: 'Alone', 'Inventory' (tho' I have a weakness for the 'S-s-s-star Eyes' wig out) and 'But No'.
Undoubtably Colin's best LP!!!"
Makes me a Newman fan, not just a Wire fan
Said Head | MN, USA | 08/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Per some of the other reviews, I decided to chance this album expecting a few good songs, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't call this 'pop-rock', more along the line of progressive rock, at least. Unlike the previous Wire albums, this makes great use of electronics, along with other non-punk instruments (which, needlessly to say, is not just guitars and percussion). I think this is sort of the kind of album Wire have always wanted to make, or maybe even been destined to make (no one can listen to 154 or Chairs Missing, or Document & Eyewitness for that matter, and not see the shift). Fans of Pink Flag will probably stay away from this one, just because this isn't a punk album, per se. Listening to this, I really feel more a fan of Colin Newman than just Wire, and I hope to get more of his solo work."