Family of Noise

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When I was in the UK in 1981 it was clear that punk had been co-opted as a fashion statement. Green, spiked Mohawk hair-dos and Doc Martens were so common that no one seemed to notice the “punks” any more than they did the windbreaker set (which I belonged to at the time). Supposedly the safety pins had once really been used by poor people to give needed structure to ragged denim, but by 1981 a pair of new Levis without safety pins would have made you stand out as a counterculture freak.  And Adam Ant and the Ants had six tunes in the top 100, including two #1s. Just as the Mohawks and Martens had become fashionable, Adam Ant and the Ants own version of punk-new wave was broadly successful.

Those who claimed to be in the know, though, had lots of praise for the first album, Dirk Wears White Sox, and little good to say about the successful stuff.   Those were the camps.  Some thought Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming were rubbish because they were popular; obviously they can’t be good and popular. There were also those who thought the first album was a little weird—and it is, thankfully. Dirk Wears White Sox is like an undiscovered XTC album with a dash of Bowie and punk.

Not All on Your AM Dial

Tunes like “Digital Tenderness” are clearly not suitable to AM mainstream, but they are not Sex Pistols by any means. There was an edge to Adam Ant and the Ants, one often dismissed by those who thought the get-up was gimmicky, which is pretty funny in a business that requires gimmicks to this day.  Speaking of get-up, there is also a Bowie side to Adam Ant on tunes such as “Nine Plan Failed” and “Tabletalk.” Those who find his latest work (Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter) varied, may want to listen to Dirk Wears White Sox and realize he has always been driving in all the lanes.

Going Indie

Dirk Wears White Sox was the first and last album by this iteration of the Ants.  Some formed The Monochrome Set, some formed Bow Wow Wow, and Ant himself went on to do very well for a while. Perhaps their most significant accomplishment, though, is that Dirk Wears White Sox was #1 the first week of the UK Indie Chart in January 1980. It was the beginning of now, a move away from EMI and a move toward independent labels. Adam and the Ants are primary Indie.






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