A Bell Is a Cup

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A Bell Is a Cup… Until It Is Struck
Studio album by
Released May 1988
Recorded December 1987
Live tracks recorded December 1, 1987, at the Town and Country Club, London, with the Manor Mobile
Studio Preußen Tonstudio, Berlin, West Germany
Length 44:11 (LP)
70:19 (CD)
Label Mute, Enigma
Producer Gareth Jones
Wire studio album chronology
The Ideal Copy
A Bell Is a Cup… Until It Is Struck
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]

A Bell Is a Cup... Until It Is Struck is the fifth studio album by the British post-punk group Wire.

Critical response

In 1989, the Trouser Press Record Guide described the album as "a stylized set of dreamscapes and consciousness streams… It's arguably Wire's most ruminative album, and while immersion in it won't, as 'Silk Skin Paws' suggests, 'wring your senses' – that's more a job for Chairs Missing – it will twirl your lobes a time or two.".[4] However, in a later edition, Trouser Press held a more critical view, writing "Wire stayed the dance-pop course with diminishing results on A Bell Is a Cup."[5]

At the time of the album's release, Wire faced accusations that they had abandoned their earlier rough-edged sound for a softer, more refined style.[6] Graham Lewis dismissed such criticism:

This is a fallacy… When [Wire's early albums] were released, they were considered more polished than other records at the time. Every record that's been made, the same criticism of being less abrasive has been levelled at it. The abrasion is actually in the content – both lyrics and sound.[6]

Allmusic gave the album a laudatory review, describing the record as "arguably Wire's best album and certainly its most accessible… a work of modern rock genius."[1]

Track listing

All tracks published by Stainless Music.

All tracks written by Wire.

No. Title Length
1. "Silk Skin Paws" 4:53
2. "The Finest Drops" 5:01
3. "The Queen of Ur and the King of Um" 4:03
4. "Free Falling Divisions" 3:39
5. "It's a Boy" 4:26
6. "Boiling Boy" 6:22
7. "Kidney Bingos" 4:12
8. "Come Back in Two Halves" 2:43
9. "Follow the Locust" 4:22
10. "A Public Place" 4:30

The CD version appends the following tracks:

No. Title Length
11. "The Queen of Ur and the King of Um" (alternative version) 4:02
12. "Pieta" 7:29
13. "Over Theirs" (live) 6:36
14. "Drill" (live) 8:01




  1. ^ a b "A Bell Is A Cup… Until It Is Struck". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 2 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "CG: wire". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  4. ^ Green, Jim (1989). "Wire". In Ira A. Robbins (ed.). The Trouser Press Record Guide (third ed.). New York: Collier Books. p. 632. ISBN 0-02-036370-2.
  5. ^ DeRogatis, Jim; Wilson Neate. "Wire". Trouser Press. Trouser Press LLC. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  6. ^ a b Balfour, Brad (August 1988). "Wire". Reflex Magazine. 1 (6). p. 33.

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