Monday, September 26, 2011

Adam and The Ants- Dirk Wears White Sox (1979) / Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980) / Prince Charming (1981) / Peel Sessions (1991) MP3 & FLAC

"You may not like the things we say, what's the difference anyway?"

Adam Ant: "Look, I'm a punk rocker. I always was; I'm not a New Romantic. But I was a punk rocker who wanted to get more than one fuckin' album. The Pistols were great, but they only did one fuckin' album. Not enough! Sorry!"  It's easy to forget how fleeting the original U.K. Punk scene was before the media storm over The Sex Pistols' infamous appearance on Thames Today turned the whole thing into a simultaneously demonized and co-opted caricature of itself. In addition, with its prized rejection of technical proficiency as a criterion for musical expression (a philosophy that opened the scene to virtually anyone with a guitar, something to say and the bollocks to say it), few of the participants in the early Punk movement were interested in thinking about the music in careerist terms, as "no future" was more than just a catch phrase; it was an ethos. However, as many of the original Punk bands began recording albums and developing as musicians as well as song-writers, the aesthetic limitations of the basic Punk sound- three chords played really hard and really fast- became apparent; as a result, bands such as The Clash, The Damned, Siouxsie & The Banshees and Penetration (to name only a few) began experimenting with and integrating other musical elements and influences into their work.

Malcolm McLaren
The new music scene (not yet labeled "punk") began to catch fire in early 1976, and Adam Ant, then known as Stewart Goddard, had recently dropped out of prestigious Hornsby College of Art to pursue a music career, a venture that originally took the form of playing bass in a pub band called Joe and The Bazookas. However, during one of their gigs, an opening band called The Sex Pistols changed everything. Inspired by what he had seen and heard, Goddard soon adopted his famous moniker and made a number of abortive attempts to form his own band. It was during this time that Adam Ant found his way into the orbit of the burgeoning Punk scene's uber-elite, who congregated at Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's fashion boutique SEX. Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni: "Without the shop [...] there would have been no punk, no Sex Pistols, just a load of pub bands who would have made no impact on anything. Malcolm is of course a complete liar but what is true is that he invented the punk attitude and made the Pistols act it out for him [....] To ask how important clothes were to the early scene (not called punk, not called anything in fact) is ridiculous. Clothes were the scene. It was not fashion; it was totally anti-fashion to everything that was going on at the time. The scene was tiny and totally hated the outside world [....] It was about telling the world that you weren't what it wanted you to be; you weren't anything except what you wanted to be. And what better way to tell England that you would not accept any of its upper class, lower class, middle class know your place, we are your elders and betters, fucking feudal society than wearing offensive pornographic clothes on the street?"

Adam Ant in his punk phase
Adam Ant's most important connection at SEX was Jordan (Pamela Rooke) who, in addition to being one of the original architects of the now-iconic look of the London punks, served as Ant's manager and occasional vocalist after he formed Adam and The Ants in the spring of 1977. In many ways, this early version of the Ants stood in stark contrast to their Punk scene contemporaries, as they adopted a very theatrical stage presence (something that would also characterize the band's later, more pop-oriented incarnation) and employed explicit sadomasochistic imagery both lyrically and visually. It was these tendencies and Jordan's connections that landed Ant a part in the Derek Jarman film Jubilee, which also featured the band playing a particularly chaotic version of "Plastic Surgery." Due to a number of line-up changes, work on the Jubilee soundtrack, and a dispute with their soon-to-be ex-record label Decca, Adam and The Ants didn't get around to releasing their debut album until the fall of 1979. The self-produced Dirk Wears White Sox is easily the darkest and most divisive album of Adam Ant's career, and while many portray the debut as having little relation to the more polished, energetic, chart-savvy work that followed it, the chaotic blend of Glam excess, Punk minimalism, and Post-Punk melancholy that characterizes songs such as "Cleopatra" and "Tabletalk" does occasionally hint at the direction Adam and a new set of Ants would take a year later on Kings of the Wild Frontier.

Post-Punk Pirate
Despite gaining the band a sizeable cult following, Dirk Wears White Sox was a commercial failure, which greatly disappointed Adam Ant, as chart success was something he had desired all along: "I wanted to be a graphic designer until I saw the Sex Pistols play live. This was 1975. That's when I knew I wanted to be a pop star, and that for me was like being a matador, a boxer." In an effort to change the band's commercial (mis)fortunes, Ant approached Malcolm McLaren about becoming the band's manager, the result of which was McLaren convincing the Ants to jump ship in order to form Bow Wow Wow with 14-year old lead singer Annabella Lwin. It was also around this time that McLaren had given the soon-to-be ex-Ants some world music recordings from which to gain inspiration for their next recording project, including The Royal Drummers of Burundi. When Adam Ant caught wind of his band's planned defection, he reportedly took these recordings with him to utilize with his new band, which, in addition to guitarist Marco Pirroni, also included two drummers. Once the new version of the band had been assembled, they were now in direct competition with Bow Wow Wow to record a batch of songs employing the Burundi-style percussion, a race Adam and The Ants won easily by, irony of all ironies, adopting a McLaren-style media-savvy image (Native-American pirate dandys) and releasing Kings of the Wild Frontier, an album that would make Adam Ant the pop star he so badly wanted to be. 

Simply put, Kings of the Wild Frontier sounded like nothing else at the time. Displaying the same brand of androgynous swagger that had characterized the best of the Glam scene nine years earlier, employing stripped-down Burundi beats, Duane Eddy riffs, Native American chants, and a mish-mash of historical allusions, the second incarnation of Adam and The Ants managed to tap into the ominousness of the debut album while offering up a great slab of irresistible pop that was as daring as it was derivative, as biting as it was cartoonish. Nowhere is this summed up better than on the lead track "Dog Eat Dog," a song that clearly signals a new day has dawned for Adam and The Ants, as it goes far beyond anything on Dirk Wears White Sox in terms of accessibility. Beginning with a prelude of tribal beats mixed with whistles and howls, Pirroni's dark, spaghetti western guitar twang soon kicks in to set the stage for Adam Ant's defiant opening ultimatum: "You may not like the things we do, only idiots ignore the truth." Despite the tremendous commercial success of Kings of the Wild Frontier, the band only recorded one more LP together, Prince Charming, before Adam Ant embarked on his circuitously ill-fated solo career, and while the album features a few of the Ants' best songs, such as "Stand and Deliver" and the title track, overall it lacks the consistent quality of songcraft that made the previous album so memorable. Ultimately, there is one question that always seems to linger about when trying to re-evaluate Adam and The Ants: vacuous foppish trash by a Punk sell-out hell-bent on becoming a pop star? or a masterful re-imagining of the kind of image manipulation that defined the Glam-era married to an unapologetically post-modern bricolage of disparate cultural signifiers all woven into something daring, entirely disposable and eternally delicious? Can the answer be both?

Dirk Wears White Sox  
(Columbia ~ 2004/1979 ~ Remastered & Expanded)

 1. Cartrouble (Parts I & II)  (6:52)
 2. Digital Tenderness  (3:04)
 3. Nine Plan Failed  (5:18)
 4. Day I Met God  (2:58)
 5. Tabletalk  (5:35)
 6. Cleopatra  (3:15)
 7. Catholic Day  (3:18)
 8. Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)  (3:14)
 9. Animals and Men  (3:20)
10. Family of Noise  (2:37)
11. The Idea  (3:26)
-Bonus Tracks-
12. Zerox  (3:48)
13. Whip in My Valise  (4:01)
14. Kick  (1:37)
15. Physical  (3:59)
16. Cartrouble (Parts I & II)  (6:37)
17. Friends  (2:40)
18. Cartrouble  (Single Version)  (3:25)
19. Kick!  (2:07)

Kings of the Wild Frontier 
(Columbia ~ 2004/1980 ~ Remastered & Expanded)

 1. Dog Eat Dog  (3:11)
 2. Antmusic  (3:38)
 3. Feed Me to the Lions  (2:59)
 4. Los Rancheros  (3:31)
 5. Ants Invasion  (3:20)
 6. Killer in the Home  (4:22)
 7. Kings of the Wild Frontier  (3:57)
 8. The Magnificent Five  (3:07)
 9. Don't Be Square (Be There)  (3:33)
10. Jolly Roger  (3:11)
11. Making History  (2:59)
12. The Human Beings  (4:33)
-Bonus Tracks-
13. Antmusic (Alternate Mix)  (3:43)
14. Antmusic (Demo)  (3:29)
15. Feed Me to the Lions (Demo)  (3:03)
16. The Human Beings (Demo)  (2:31)
17. S.E.X. (Demo)  (3:57)
18. Omelette from Outer Space (Demo)  (3:07)

Prince Charming  
(Columbia ~ 2004/1981 ~ Remastered & Expanded)

 1. Scorpios  (2:47)
 2. Picasso Visita el Planeta de Los Simios  (3:29)
 3. Prince Charming  (3:18)
 4. Five Guns West  (5:03)
 5. That Voodoo!  (4:19)
 6. Stand and Drliver  (3:36)
 7. Mile High Club  (2:42)
 8. Ant Rap  (3:27)
 9. Mohowk  (3:29)
10. S.E.X.  (5:06)
-Bonus Tracks-
11. Prince Charming (Demo)  (3:09)
12. Stand and Deliver (Demo)  (3:05)
13. Showbiz (Demo)  (3:07)
14. Picasso Visits the Planet of the Apes (Demo)  (3:22)
15. Who's a Goofy Bunny Then? (Demo)  (4:25)
16. Scorpio Writing (Demo)  (3:21)

Peel Sessions 
(Strange Fruit ~ 1990)

 1. Lou (John Peel Session- Jan. 23, 1978)  (4:05)
 2. It Doesn't Matter (John Peel Session- Jan. 3, 1978)  (1:59)
 3. Zerox (John Peel Session- July 10, 1978)  (3:20)
 4. Friends (John Peel Session- July 10, 1978)  (3:14)
 5. You're so Physical (John Peel Session- July 10, 1978)  (3:09)
 6. Cleopatra (John Peel Session- July 10, 1978)  (3:29)
 7. Ligotage (John Peel Session- March 26, 1979)  (3:04)
 8. Tabletalk (John Peel Show- March 26, 1979)  (5:06)
 9. Animals & Men (John Peel Show- March 26, 1979)  (2:38)
10. Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face) (John Peel Show- March 26, 1979)  (3:06)

Adam and The Ants- "Stand and Deliver" Video (1981)


  1. An Adam Ant megapost, this should keep the downloaders busy and is just what a Monday needed. ThankS!

  2. Hi MT, this post was like giving birth to an elephant, but I wanted to put Adam's music in a new light. A old-school punk at heart and his music holds up pretty well in my opinion. I think I'll post "Friend or Foe" and some Bow Wow Wow on PPP

  3. And what's wrong with being vacuous foppish trash, anyway? ;) Quite a behometh post. Pretty much everything worth hearing tied with a bow (your accompanying text, that is). Especially enjoyed, "... something daring, entirely disposable and eternally delicious". Pretty much summed it up for me. Pure Pop for Now people. Thanks.

  4. I forgot to mention in my previous post: If you want to hear what I consider to be "a masterful re-imagining of the kind of image manipulation that defined the Glam-era married to an unapologetically post-modern bricolage of disparate cultural signifiers", give the Virgin Prunes a spin. Gavin Friday (subversively) continued the same themes in a more 'pop' tradition on his solo albums.

  5. V, quite the ambitious undertaking, here, nice work!

    I know it seems easy to take potshots at Adam (and his Ants), decrying their sell-out to cultural mainstream (my God, they've gone NEW WAVE), but Punk Rock was an ever-mutable beast that thrived on eating its own. Hell, that WAS the ethos: tear everything down, let there be no establishment. Then, of course, the so-called inner circle became the establishment, and that tearing-down no longer seemed like such a good idea. So, to protect itself, Punk Rock had to become codified. Stick to the program, or you're out, and we'll tell everyone how un-cool you are. It always seemed to me Adam Ant was never all that interested in that Punk Rock Rat Race (try finding THAT phrase anywhere else). I rather imagine he could care less if people were pissed off that he wouldn't tow the Punk Rock line.

    And I 2nd bv: The Prunes (though often a bit much) are definitely worth a spin!

  6. bv, my pleasure. I'm quite fond of Adam, and I think the second album is an absolute classic. Also, I've posted several Prunes albums on PPP

  7. reindeer man, thanks and I completely agree with you about how punk became codified; that tendency ultimately morphed into the various hardcore scenes that many know and love.

  8. At the time I thought Adam and his Ants were annoying. So I will download and listen, maybe I was wrong. It's possible.

  9. Agree. The second is the one I think still holds up too. Jubilee was where I was first exposed to Adam & the Ants. We went to see it simply because Eno had done some of the music. Opened me up a whole new path of music, film and scene to explore.

  10. scurfie, try "Dirk Wears White Sox" and "Peel Sessions"

  11. bv, yes, "Jubilee" is a very interesting film. I should dig up the soundtrack somewhere

  12. Great post Voix. I didn't have some the extra tracks. Thanks & saludos.

  13. I did and you are right! But them the computer blue screened there a connection? lol

  14. El Isabelino, you're welcome and thanks!

  15. scurfie, do you have an antmusic filter application running in the background???

  16. many thanks voixautre for this great post, I didn't have the extra tracks. There appears to be a problem with "Prince Charming" in flac - file unavailable

  17. Anon., for "Prince Charming," try back either later today or tomorrow. Megaupload does this sometimes

  18. "Prince Charming" link ok now :-) thanks again!!

  19. Many thanks for Dirk Wears White Sox, haven't had the pleasure of listening to this in many years. And it still sounds great!

  20. Saw Adan Ant and the latest band last month. were great and did loads of early stuff. Any chance of uploading these to rapidshare or anything which hasn't been shut down?


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