Outdoor Miner

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"Outdoor Miner"
Outdoor Miner Cover.jpg
Single by Wire
from the album Chairs Missing
B-side "Practice Makes Perfect"
Released 12 January 1979
Format 7"
Genre Post-punk
Length 2:51
Label Harvest
Producer(s) Mike Thorne
Wire singles chronology
"Dot Dash"
"Outdoor Miner"
"A Question of Degree"

"Outdoor Miner" is a song written by Colin Newman and Graham Lewis, and performed by the English post-punk band Wire. It was released in January 1979 as the band's fourth single (reaching number 51 in the UK singles chart)[1] and appeared on their second album, Chairs Missing.


The song originally appeared on their 1978 album Chairs Missing. The song is based on Graham Lewis's fascination with the Serpentine leaf miner insect[2] and details the life cycle of the insect.[3] EMI recognised that the song could potentially be a hit single, but were concerned that it was too short,[4] measuring only 1 minute 45 seconds. Unusually the label asked the band to make a longer version for the single. The band added an additional verse and chorus, and a piano solo played by producer Mike Thorne,[4] pushing the length to 2 minutes 51 seconds. EMI were confident that the song could become a hit and commercial breakthrough for the band.[4]

The single soon entered the charts reaching number 51 and the BBC approached EMI and asked them to appear on the long running music show Top of the Pops if the single continued to rise.[4] At the time Top of the Pops was one of the few opportunities for acts to promote their work on national television, with over 15 million viewers. However the British Market Research Bureau who compiled the UK Singles Chart claimed that there was an attempt to rig the chart by EMI personnel buying multiple copies of the single in chart return shops.[4] Although EMI strenuously denied any attempts at rigging the chart, that weeks sales were not included.[4] Despite selling twice as many copies as the previous week,[4] these sales weren't included and subsequently the single dropped down the chart[4] and Wire's chance to appear on Top of The Pops disappeared along with their chance to reach a wider audience. Wire's place was instead taken by Donny and Marie Osmond who were in London for a concert.[4]

Reviewing the single for the NME, Charles Shaar Murray wrote "This record is white and shows the dirt. Its surface is injured but rarely hurt. Guitars twang, keyboards ching, a voice intones. It is 3.55, your reviewer groans. It sounds soft and squishy, I can't hear the words. Time passes, how absurd. This group are overrated your correspondent demurs ... sod it I'm bored."[5]

Cover versions

"Outdoor Miner" has been covered by several artists. Notable versions include Lush[6] in 1992, Flying Saucer Attack[6] in 1994, The Lightning Seeds and Luna in 1996.[7] Unusually a tribute album to the song was released in 2004 on the 25th anniversary of the song, A Houseguest's Wish: Translations of Wire's "Outdoor Miner" features 19 different interpretations of the song.[8] As well as the Lush and Flying Saucer Attack covers, it features covers by Sharron Kraus, Boy Division and Adam Franklin amongst others.[8]



  1. ^ "Wire | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Cutting the Stone Out A Personal View of Wire by Stephen Harper". Wirewviews.com. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Tuesday Tunes – Outdoor Miner – Biodiversity in Focus Blog". Biodiversityinfocus.com. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Paul Lester. Lowdown: The Story of Wire. ISBN 1847727107. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  5. ^ Shaar Murray, Charles. "Singles". NME. IPC (13 January 1979): 10. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ a b "The 10 best Wire covers, according to Wire". Dummy. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Cover versions of Outdoor Miner". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b "VARIOUS ARTISTS A Houseguest's Wish Translations of Wire's "Outdoor Miner"". Words-on-music.com. Retrieved 27 August 2016.

External links

  • Lyrics of this song on Wire's official website
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • "Outdoor Miner" at Discogs (list of releases)
  • Accolades archived at Acclaimed Music
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