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Adam and the Ants

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  Summary  

Adam and the Ants were a British rock band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The original group, which existed from 1977 to 1980, became notable as a cult band marking the transition from the late-1970s punk rock era to the post-punk and New Wave era. By the end of 1979, this early lineup featured musicians Dave Barbarossa, Matthew Ashman and Leigh Gorman — all of whom would later leave the band on 26 January 1980, at the suggestion of then-de facto manager Malcolm McLaren, to form the instrumentalist personnel of Bow Wow Wow. The second incarnation of Adam and the Ants — which featured guitarist Marco Pirroni and drummer/record producer Chris Hughes — existed from about February 1980 to January 1982 and achieved major commercial success in the UK as early leaders of the burgeoning New Romantic movement there. Both versions of the band were led by singer and chief songwriter Adam Ant.

  Biography  

 Formation
Prior to the Ants, Adam Ant played bass in pub rock group Bazooka Joe, now primarily known as the band that headlined when the Sex Pistols played their first concert on 6 November 1975 at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. After witnessing this, Adam immediately quit the band with the intention of forming his own, inspired by the Sex Pistols.

Tentatively called the B-sides, they practised regularly over the following months, but, lacking a drummer, never managed to play a gig. Meanwhile, Adam Ant had befriended some influential figures in the burgeoning London punk scene, most notably Jordan, who worked in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's SEX boutique shop. The Ants eventually formed in early 1977 consisting of Lester Square , Andy Warren and Paul Flanagan . Lester Square left to finish Art school and to later form The Monochrome Set just days after the Ants played their first gig on 5 May 1977, at a bedroom in Muswell Hill. Mark Ryan replaced him on guitar and played the first formal gigs . In early June, Flanagan was replaced with Dave Barbe and the resulting line-up recorded "Plastic Surgery" (along with seven other unreleased demos later dubbed the "Jubilee Demos" by bootleggers) and featured in the film Jubilee as the band of Adam's character Kid, until Ryan was replaced by Johnny Bivouac in October 1977.

 Early recordings
The band made their radio debut on the John Peel show with a session recorded on 23 January 1978, including the song "Lou" featuring the group's manager Jordan guesting on lead vocals . The following day, the Ants re-recorded "Deutscher Girls" (and overdubbed a guitar solo onto the above mentioned version of "Plastic Surgery") for the Jubilee soundtrack album, which would be released in April – the two tracks on the album being group's vinyl debut.

Touring extensively around the UK, often with Siouxsie and the Banshees, they proved to be unpopular with much of the British music press who disliked their fetishistic lyrics and imagery. In response, the group formed a strong – at times ideological – rapport with amateur punk fanzines such as Ripped And Torn which gave them more favourable coverage. The band built up a strong cult following (the early "Antpeople") but struggled to find overground success or even a record deal until 1978 when they were signed to Decca.

By this time, the Ants had been through several lineup changes before eventually settling on the stable lineup of Adam Ant , Matthew Ashman , Andy Warren and Dave Barbarossa . It would be this lineup that recorded and released their first single "Young Parisians" to confused reviews and little success, along with a total of 21 demo recordings, all bar one of which was recorded at Decca's own studio in West Hampstead. Many of these and other early recordings and demos would eventually surface on bootleg records. They also recorded a further two John Peel Sessions in July 1978 and March 1979 and all three sessions were released in 2001 on The Complete Radio 1 Sessions.

Apparently unable to satisfactorily market the band, Decca let them go in early 1979, and the group, still with the same lineup but employing a lighter sound than previously , signed with independent label Do It Records and recorded their second single "Zerox" and debut album Dirk Wears White Sox, before Warren also left to join Square in The Monochrome Set. Ashman also temporarily left the band at this point, and Ant and Barbe recorded a set of nine demos at Solid Gold Sound Studios in London for a putative Ant solo project, using a heavily soul/funk/disco influenced sound. Do It rejected the new songs and Ashman returned to the band shortly thereafter.

 Dirk Wears White Sox
Late 1979 saw the release of Dirk Wears White Sox . The title referenced Dirk Bogarde. The album was somewhat dark, with post-punk riffs and some vestiges of glam rock, as well as attempts to fuse this sound with funk and soul. Lyrically it attempted to address subjects such as fetishism, historical figures like Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy and Cleopatra as well as art history, particularly the Futurism movement. It gained a cult following rather than commercial success, leading a frustrated Adam to hire Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols, in the hope of gaining more widespread recognition.

On 26 January 1980, McLaren convinced the rest of the band — then comprising guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and drummer Dave Barbarossa — to leave the Ants and form Bow Wow Wow, fronted by Annabella Lwin.

 Kings of the Wild Frontier
During February–April 1980, a new version of the Ants was formed with Marco Pirroni (an ex-member — for short time — of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Models, Rema Rema and Cowboys International) , Kevin Mooney , and two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Chris Hughes (ex-The Blitz Brothers, future Tears For Fears producer), called also Merrick. Pirroni would become an influential member of the group, co-writing all of their new songs with Adam Ant.

While in the process of assembling the band, Ant and Pirroni re-recorded the Dirk Wears White Sox track "Cartrouble Pt.2" as a contract fulfilling single for Do It, together with future Culture Club drummer Jon Moss and with Hughes producing. The label released the single under the shorter title "Cartrouble" in March 1980 (with Moss credited as "Terry 1+2"), and it reached #1 on the UK Independent Singles Chart. The following month, the by-then recruited full band recorded the single "Kings Of The Wild Frontier" for prospective record companies.

Without label support, the band carried out a major UK "Ants Invasion" tour, at the end of which, they signed a major label deal with CBS Records and began recording Kings of the Wild Frontier, having first rush-released the title track as a single. That album was a hit in the United Kingdom and put the band at the forefront of the New Romantic movement. The album reached #1 on the UK album charts on 24 January 1981.

There were several hit singles from this LP, including "Dog Eat Dog" (reaching #4 on the UK singles charts in October 1980), "Antmusic" (#2 in January 1981), and "Kings of the Wild Frontier" (#2 in March 1981, previously #48 in August 1980). In addition, "Antmusic" made it to #1 in Australia for five weeks.

Decca and Do It Records both repromoted all of the band's previous output in order to cash in on the success of the album and its satellite singles. "Young Parisians" reached #9 in December 1980 while the Dirk album made it to #17 in the album charts in February 1981. "Zerox" and "Cartrouble" also charted that month, making it to #33 and #45 respectively in the UK Singles Chart.

Bassist Kevin Mooney left the band in 1981, and was replaced with Gary Tibbs, who joined just in time to promote the hit single "Stand and Deliver".

 Prince Charming
In November 1981, Adam & the Ants released Prince Charming. The band had two United Kingdom #1 singles: "Stand and Deliver" was a #1 single in the UK for 5 weeks in May 1981, followed by "Prince Charming", which topped the UK charts for 4 weeks in September 1981. "Ant Rap" reached #3 in January 1982.

There would be a further round of cash-in reissues of early material in early 1982, when the two Jubilee soundtrack songs were reissued in February as a 7-inch single with "Deutscher Girls" as the A Side, reaching #13 on the UK singles chart , while The Antmusic EP, an EP of three unused tracks from the Dirk sessions, was released by Do It in March, reaching #46.

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  Albums 

  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
Scorpios 02:46 11/1981
Mowhok 03:28 11/1981
Ant Rap 03:26 11/1981
Mile High Club 02:42 11/1981
Stand and Deliver 03:35 11/1981
That Voodoo! 04:18 11/1981
Five Guns West 05:02 11/1981
Prince Charming 03:18 11/1981
The Lost Hawaiians 01:05 11/1981
Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios 03:28 11/1981
S.E.X. 05:00 11/1981
Young Parisians 03:02

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  User reviews

  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Adam and the Ants", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.