Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Peel Sessions

Taken from In Session Tonight The A-Z of Peel Sessions

Adam And The Ants

Three sessions - Two in 1978, One in 1979

First session (recorded at Maida Vale 4, produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Dave Dade on 23/01/1978 - first broadcast 30/01/1978)

1. Deutscher Girls
2. Puerto-Rican
3. It Doesn’t Matter
4. Lou

Second session (recorded at Maida Vale 4, produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Dave Dade on 10/07/1978 - first broadcast 17/07/1978)

1. You’re So Physical
2. Cleopatra
3. Friends
4. Zerox

Third session (recorded at Maida Vale 4, produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Bill Aitken and Martyn Parker on 26/03/1979 - first broadcast 02/04/1979)

1. Tabletalk
2. Liggotage
3. Animals And Men
4. Never Trust A Man With Egg On His Face

Band members: Adam Ant (lead vocals, guitar on first session and stylophone on second session), Johnny Bivouac (guitar on first session), Matthew Ashman (guitar on second and third session), Kurt Van Den Bogarde (bass), Dave Barbe (drums) and Jordan (vocals on Lou).

Adam And The Ants - Zerox (1979)

Adam And The Ants formed in early 1977 from the embers of the B-Sides (who had featured Adam and Andy Warren, aka Kurt Van Den Bogarde, as well as Bid and Lester Square, later to record three Peel sessions as members of The Monochrome Set).

They quickly established a reputation for a stage show based on S&M and fetish gear, which helped to establish a cult following, but also seems to have had the effect of leaving them as critically derided, labelled as bandwagoneers. Gary Bushell writing in Sounds said “I don’t know how to say this but everyone hates Adam And The Ants….but I saw them on Tuesday and quite enjoyed it. He reminded me of a hammier version of Siouxsie, coming on all drama school, shoulder hugging cracked actor, face coated in thick white makeup, eyes staring, body jerking and all that. He takes himself seriously but he’s quite fun in a campy caricature of Bowie’s darkest moments sort of way”. The band had also attracted criticism for for lyrics that at best can be considered provocative, the first Peel session includes Deutscher Girls (”…so why did you have to be so Nazi?”) and Puerto-Rican (”A chick like you is oh so rare, You get off on his greasy hair, You’ve got a smart apartment, You’ve got central heating, Why go and waste it on a Puerto-Rican?”). Adam explained Puerto-Rican’s contentious lyrics as being “about a white woman who has reduced a human being to dog status - because I thought that was a damn sight more powerful in a lyric than saying look at those poor Puerto Ricans. I’ve sung that song to Puerto Ricans from New York, and they loved it man. Because it was singing about Puerto Ricans, and they just don’t get sung about”, however the song was never recorded again after that first session.

Adam had worked hard to get the band taken under the wing of Jordan, a punk icon working in Malcolm McLaren & Vivianne Westwood’s SEX boutique, and about to take a leading role in Derek Jarman’s film, Jubilee - in which the Ants also featured playing two songs). She describes her first impressions of the band as them being “overwhelmingly dreadful except for the fact that Adam was oozing charisma”, and it was this star quality that led her to agree to manage them. In December 1977, it was Jordan’s presence that secured The Ants their first Peel session. John Walters had gone to see the band play at the Royal College of Art, and was largely underwhelmed, dismissing Adam as “a bit art-school for my taste”. However, Jordan’s appearance to sing Lou was much more exciting for Walters and the offer of the first session was conditional on it including that song.

Their debut single Young Parisians was released in 1978 on Decca to little success, and they were dropped soon after. The band though continued to attract a substantial live following, selling out the Lyceum in April 1979. Their debut LP Dirk Wears White Sox, was released on Do It Records in December 1979, and immediately made #1 on the indie LP chart. Around the same time Adam paid Malcolm McLaren £1,000 to makeover the band. This he did by combining a hybrid pseudo-American Indian-pirate look and appropriating African rhythms from a 1971 track called Burundi Black. The original source of this being a field recording of 25 drummers, made in a village in the east African nation of Burundi by a team of French anthropologists, subsequently parts of this field recording had an arrangement for guitars and keyboards grafted on to become Burundi Black.

The third element in the re-shaping was rather more dramatic for Adam, as it involved persuading the Ants (by now consisting of Matthew Ashman, Leigh Gorman and Dave Barbe) to ditch their singer and become Bow Wow Wow (who would record one Peel session in 1980). It appeared to be the end of the road for Adam.

Adam finding himself short of a grand and a band, recruited new Ants including Marco Pirroni and Terry Lee Miall (aka Terry Day), who had previosuly recorded a Peel session as members of The Models in 1977. Taking some of McLaren’s ideas on board the new Ants has a sound based on hyper-kinetic double drums, and a flamboyant new image. The first release by the new Ants, Kings Of The Wild Frontier, fell just short of the top 40 on original release in July 1980, but the follow-up, Dog Eat Dog was a substantial hit, reaching #4 in September. Both made the 1980 Festive Fifty (that year a Feative Sixty-Five) reaching #30 and #53 respectively. November 1980 saw the release of the Kings Of The Wild Frontier LP, which made #1 on the LP chart proper. In January 1981, another Peel session veteran, Garry Tibbs (ex-Vibrators) joined.

Britain was gripped by Antfever, and there was a string of massive hit singles throughout 1981 and 1982, and whilst the pace of this initial success couldn’t be maintained, Adam had hits on a semi-regualar basis into the 90’s.

Lou is will be on the 2nd podcast, and a video for Tabletalk is in the vodpod.

All the sessions have had a commercial release, most recently as The Complete Radio One Recordings, which is currently out-of-print, although a couple of session tracks are available on Antbox.

download the first session (1978-01-30 - adam and the ants)

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