Cover v. Original: Map Ref 41°N 93°W
A classic pop song, “Map Ref 41°N 93°W” was released as a single b/w “Go Ahead” in October of 1979. It also appeared on Wire’s 1979 album 154…
As the picture above demonstrates, the map reference in the title refers to an area near Des Moines, Iowa. I’m not sure if Wire have ever had the pleasure of visiting Iowa, but in 1979, they did have at least one fan in Des Moines. According to lyricist Graham Lewis, “[t]he song is about travelling. I flew from L.A. to New York in 1978 and crossed the mid-west, and it went on and on and on and on. It was just incredible that this grid system was imposed on an enormous stretch of land.”
This is one of the catchiest Wire songs and the multi-layered voice of Colin Newman sounds amazing on it. It should have been a hit, but unfortunately it wasn’t.
In 1996 “Whore: Various Artists Play Wire” was released by WMO. As far as tribute albums go, it’s hit and miss, although some consider it suprisingly good. What made it interesting was that there was a new My Bloody Valentine song on it, one of only a handful (if that) of new material released by the band since 1991. Their take on “Map Ref 41°N 93°W” was amazing, and people thought it was a precursor for the new album… and I suppose it was might be a 12-15 year precursor.
Kevin Shields of MBV talked about the song in an interview with KUCI: “When the idea was put to us to do a Wire cover, I thought it would be good to do, if I could do one of the Wire songs that inspired me, I suppose, to not be afraid of being a pop group. Not a pop group with an intent to be pop stars, but a pop group in a sense that you’re writing music that’s essentially pop music, easy, instinctive music, but you’re also doing other stuff, because that comes the same way, as opposed to placing limits and saying, ‘Well, we can’t do that, it’s too catchy.’”
So, people, which one is it? The dreamy original or the ring-modulated cover? Colin Newman or Bilinda Butcher? This is gonna be a tough decision.