Tag Archives: Adam Ant

➤ Fresh pix from the “14 months” of punk and the last word on what it all meant

Punk’s Dead , Derek Dunbar ,, Jordan,

Jordan the queen of punk: pantone matched first samples fresh from the printers on Derek Dunbar’s Facebook page today

◼ HOW MUCH MORE IS THERE TO KNOW ABOUT PUNK? Not much, you might think. Yet today Derek Dunbar — the King’s Road fixer, model, singer, Jarmanite and McLaren acolyte, now styling himself as project manager — announced on Facebook that he is producing some T-shirts emblazoned with Jordan’s image (Jordan the queen of punk, immortalised in Derek Jarman’s movie Jubilee). “These are the first samples we will produce once Six has finished at his exhibition in London so I hope to start in 3 weeks or 4 weeks.”

Exhibition? Six? Who? Those in the know know that Six is aka Simon and Simon was the quiet one in among Susan Dallion (later Siouxsie Sioux), Steve Severin, Debbie Juvenile and Soo Catwoman in those seminal 1976 snaps of the Bromley Contingent — first followers of the Sex Pistols and the Chelsea retail outlets of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Some of the Contingent became headliners in the punk explosion, Simon playing his part by appearing with the Pistols on the infamous teatime TV show that lost television journalist Bill Grundy his job. More discreetly, as a resident of the St James’s Hotel in Westminster, Simon provided a refuge for punk’s suburban protagonists.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Jordan

1976: Jordan and Simon Barker aka Six (from Derek Dunbar’s Facebook album)

Under his pseudonym Six, he now reveals: “In 1976, I bought myself one of the cheapest pocket cameras available. Fully automatic, with no controls or settings… Subconsciously I concentrated on the women and artists at the heart of what would later be known as punk in London. The photos you see were spur-of-the-moment shots taken by myself for myself and, up until now, I used to think they weren’t good enough to show people.”

Far from it. A quick google reveals these early snapshots to be “a rare and intimate account of punk’s ability to mint newness” and they evince “the cool stillness of seeming to live beyond the end of history.” Ohhhhh!!! Orgasmic! And you’re asking, Who said THAT?

Michael Bracewel,books9,England is Mine, Pop LifeGoogle, please tell. The verdict comes from Michael Bracewell (author of England is Mine: Pop Life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie, 2009), one of those writers whose cultural observations you know are worth the effort to read, wrapped though they are in ripely purple prose. And in a recent article about Six, he announces what these days is the official line, that “Punk lasted in the UK for little more than 14 months, between 1976 and the Jubilee summer of 1977.” Anything later was accounted an offshoot of punk, or dubbed simply New Wave!!!

You raise an eyebrow, salivating for more. And more is delivered in his Independent piece from last March when he defined punk once and for all…

➢ In essence, beneath the headline Anarchy in the UK,
Bracewell declares:

  • To some, punk was primarily political in its energy, carrying class war or a reclamation of the Situationist desire to ‘wreck culture’ to the brutalist Britain of the pre-Thatcher 1970s.
  • To others, it was an avant-garde fashion parade: a damply British reclamation of the Zurich Dada or the Ballets Russes.
  • And to yet others it was the gleeful desecration of rock music’s Church of Authenticity, in which had been worshipped the sanctity of the Blues.
  • Speaking with Malcolm McLaren – arguably punk’s architect – shortly before his death in 2010, the case was put more simply: if punk could lay any claim on historic status, he said, it would best be remembered as ‘like doing the Twist in a ruin’.

Sensational, whichever way you take your pick! But he’s warming to his own conclusion:

  • Punk … appeared to confront the stagnation of cultural consumerism – by describing, in a language of self-parody, the notion of modernity itself reaching critical mass and unsurprisingly imploding. Hence, perhaps, the slogan above the door of the SEX boutique at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea: ‘Modernity Killed Every Night’.

Divine! We can go to our graves sure about the meaning of punk, once and for all. Or rather, five times and for all.

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker,Little Nell, Adam Ant

1977: Little Nell with Adam Ant at a Butler’s Wharf party. Photographed by Six

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker , Siouxsie Sioux

1977: Siouxsie Sioux at the St James hotel. Photographed by Six

➢ Punk’s Dead by Simon Barker is an exhibition of his intimate punk photographs, open for a month from June 7, at Divus Temporary Gallery, 4 Wilkes Street, London E1 6QF.

➢ Punk’s Dead the book by Simon Barker is published by Divus

Punk’s Dead , books,photography, Simon Barker

Six in Prague: Barker demonstrating with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek who has become the zeitgeist interpreter of social phenomena in the 20-tweens

The Year Of Punk 19/12/77

Six, Simon Barker, Punk 1977, LWT, Janet Street-Porter, video

“You don’t have to be a fantastic musician”: Six explains the magic at 7:15 in Janet Street-Porter’s LWT documentary, The Year of Punk, 1977 … Click pic to view video at YouTube

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2012 ➤ Adam Ant: sex, subversion, style, humour but don’t nobble me as a New Romantic

Adam Ant, interview, New Romantics,Proud Camden, photography, live concert

Adam Ant: intensely serious. (Photograph newly posted at Facebook)

➢ Adam Ant, Dandy in the Underworld is a retrospective photographic exhibition at Proud Galleries in London, being launched with a charity performance by Adam and band on March 6, 2012. Hence a superbly considered interview with Decca Aitkenhead in today’s Guardian about surviving stardom, dealing with bipolar disorder and stuff…

Ant still gets annoyed when anyone muddles him up with the early 80s New Romantic scene: “Cos New Romantic was nothing to do with Adam and the Ants. The Ants was a punk band, or a post-punk band if anything, and so historically it’s inaccurate. New Romantic was basically, in my mind, clubbers with too much makeup on with stupid clothes. I never set foot in any of their clubs, so I find it quite distressing to be nobbled into New Romantic, cos it was just a load of guys who looked like they’d had a row with their girlfriends’ makeup. There was nothing tough about it, nothing dangerous about it, it was soft electro stuff and it just looked a bit wet. And I didn’t like being associated with it.”

A man of 58 who still cares this much should probably come across as faintly ridiculous, but the intense seriousness with which Ant deconstructs these arcane distinctions conveys an impression of almost heartbreaking vulnerability… / continued online

“ I never set foot in the f***ing Blitz [club]
– I WOULD HAVE BOMBED IT ”

Adam Ant drawing his line in the sand with
the New Romantics
(Clink magazine, 23 March 2011)

MORE ON ADAM AT SHAPERSOFTHE80S

➢ 1981, How Adam stomped his way across the charts with six records in the same month to thwart the nascent New Romantics:

Adam Ant, Jordan, Jubilee, 1977

Instinctive punks, 1977: Adam and Jordan at the premiere for Jubilee

Shapersofthe80s has always drawn a clear distinction between Adam Ant and the New Romantics. As does Marco Pirroni, the Ants guitarist and co-writer of many of their hits. “Adam is glam-punk,” he told me emphatically at the bar of the Wag when Ant’s first solo single Puss ’n Boots was storming the chart in Oct 1983. “Americans don’t understand he was never a New Romantic.”

As if proof were needed, just gawp at the way Adam goes hoppity-skippiting through the video to Antmusic. The rent-a-crowd extras must have been the least stylish Londoners within earshot of the Blitz club. Gawp again at how these kids can’t dance either!

Yes of course Kings of the Wild Frontier went on to become one of the great slapstick albums of its time. No dispute. And with characters like Prince Charming and Puss ’n Boots, Adam treated us to year-round pantomime.

➢ Adam and Marco in battle of the bands — How I wrote Stand and Deliver, plus the early days of Ant music, plus all about Marco

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2011 ➤ Stand and deliver: Adam Ant versus Marco in a battle of bands

Guardian , Adam Ant,video, Stand and Deliver,pop music

➢ Click picture to run video in new window — Today at Guardian online Adam Ant gives a video interview in the strand: How I wrote … Stand and Deliver, his chart-topping hit from May 1981. When he starts strumming the tune, why not try cueing up the video below by Marco Pirroni, his onetime lead guitarist in the Ants and songwriting partner, then compare the results? Adam and Marco shared an Ivor Novello Award for this number

❏ Adam explains the song’s mix of images… “I very much like the 18th century, and the traditional sayings that everyone knows like ‘Stand and deliver’ and ‘Drop your drawers and ten bob’s yours’.” Adam says he wove together various other themes in the song: a touch of Tommy Steele’s Where’s Jack? based loosely on DickTurpin, plus Native American Indians and a bit of piracy. Result: “The lyric wrote itself. It was really a manifesto of what was to come… I knew I’d cracked it when the window cleaner round my house was singing it and changing the lyrics and didn’t know it was my flat… I was very flattered by that.”

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➢ Click this link to hear Marco Pirroni’s interview with Marcella Puppini for Shoreditch Radio last Tuesday — it is still online

❏ As Adam’s songwriting partner in the Ants, Marco co-wrote five number-one singles, a further four top tens with him, their two number-one albums, plus many more songs during 20 years together. When Marcella Puppini asked about his songwriting with Adam, Marco said: “I don’t think it’s something I really want to talk about at the present time.” Of his input into the music, he said: “I don’t write lyrics generally. I work with riffs and you keep playing. You have a moment when you think I really like playing this and the person you’re working goes: ‘It’s really good’. There are no rules. John Lennon’s tragic death kept us off No 1 [in Dec 1980], then I remember doing Stand and Deliver and thinking that’s going to happen. We weren’t going to be No 1 with just anything. I thought that’s catchy, that’s going to work.”

THE ANTS Mk3 ‘WON’T INCLUDE MARCO’

Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni,

Early 80s: Adam and Marco in happier days

➢ Adam Ant: back from the brink— in today’s Daily Telegraph Andrew Perry listens to Adam like a respectful fan while interviewing Stuart Goddard with the care of a concerned parent…

After numerous tribulations, he’s to make a dramatic comeback to music next month, with his first full tour in more than 15 years. A couple of years ago, Goddard gradually withdrew from antidepressants, and the songwriting came back… He’s recorded a double album, which he plans to release himself in January 2012, entitled ‘Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in: Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter’.

Goddard, now 56… talks of fronting an association for misdiagnosed bipolar sufferers, and of an album he’s writing for a third version of Adam and the Ants, which won’t include Pirroni. (“He did something to me which I won’t forgive him for. I’ll never go on stage with him again in my life.”) It’s equally difficult not to worry that all this hare-brained scheming is merely a manifestation of the old “manic” self. Now he’s off the medication, can he cope with those desperate mood swings? … He says: “You’ve got to be crazy to be a rock-and-roll singer”.

➢ Tour dates for Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse — 25 stages in a stately, historic progress from Nov 10 at the 850-capacity Cheese & Grain (the 19th-century Market Hall) in Frome, Somerset… to Jan 22 at the 900-capacity former Art Deco cinema, “The Tiv” nightclub in Buckley (once famed for its brickmaking), Flintshire… while taking in on Nov 20 the 2,661-capacity Grade II listed Troxy (view online the virtual tour of this fabulously renovated Art Deco cinema, designed by George Coles) in East London… Somebody has been thinking about these things.

‘ZIGGY PAVED THE WAY FOR JOHNNY ROTTEN’

Siouxsie and the Banshees debut at the 100 Club punk festival, 1976: with Steven Severin, Marco Pirroni and John Ritchie (later Sid Vicious) on drums. Photograph by Ray Stevenson

❏ A lynchpin of the UK punk scene, Marco Pirroni became an integral part of Adam and the Ants in 1980 as lead guitarist and co-songwriter, until they went their own ways 20 years later. Today he is a songwriter, producer and guitarist in a rock-and-roll garage band called The Wolfmen, along with another ex-Ant, Chris Constantinou, making a sound described by Mojo magazine as “exuberant filth — Chris and Marco do growing old disgracefully with style”.

➢ Read Mark Youll’s very thorough interview with Marco Pirroni last March at Word of Noise…

“ Q: So it would have been stuff like Roxy Music that inspired you to play guitar?
A: Yeah, Roxy and Mick Ronson. Aladdin Sane made me want to play.
Q: How important would you say glam-rock was to the advent of punk?
A: It was really really important. The glam thing laid the ground rules and maybe the foundations. I know there are lots of punk fans out there that say it’s nothing to do with it, but you can see direct parallels between Ziggy Stardust and Johnny Rotten.

➢ The Wolfmen play the Georgian Theatre Stockton-on-Tees
on Feb 25, 2012

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➤ “Yes this is a Wag rerun” — Sullivan on his Sussex alternative to London’s carnival

Chris Sullivan, Wag club, Jon Baker, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s,West Dean Festival,

Sullivan then and now: the Wag club host in his painted pavilion in 1983 and, right, deejaying for Jon Baker’s Jolly Boys concert in New York this spring

❚ NOT ONLY IS ADAM ANT TOPPING THE BILL on Saturday but half-price tickets were still available today to followers of Chris Sullivan, joint host for 19 years of Soho’s legendary Wag club which he founded in 1982. This bank-holiday weekend Aug 26–28 he plays deejay and music programmer at the three-day West Dean Festival near Chichester in rural West Sussex. The knees-up 90 minutes from London will be a “nice alternative” to the annual Notting Hill Carnival, he says. In fact, “a Wag rerun… for parents”!

As undoubtedly the most influential club host of the 80s, as well as vocalist in the crazy Latin band Blue Rondo à la Turk, Sullivan commands one of the fattest contacts books in clubland. So while this weekend’s festival across two stages and late-night café bar aims to celebrate all aspects of the arts, it’s no surprise that the day-long live music is designed to attract the aficionado. Friday headliners are Natty Bo and The Top Cats, plus The Third Degree … Saturday boasts the reborn Adam Ant and his band The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse, plus Polecats, Dulwich Ukulele Club, and 80s warehouse deejay Phil Dirtbox … Soul singer James Hunter headlines on Sunday.

When I reminded 51-year-old Sullivan that the locals are billing it as “A magical escape for all the family” he was keen to promise this would not put a damper on the fun. “Kids go to bed at 9-10ish and when there’s a few of them they look after each other with the supervision of one adult maybe. Meanwhile we let rip in the knowledge that they are near and we save money on babysitters and have a right old beano.”

That’s the Wag spirit! In fact, beano was the very word he used in 1983 when my report in The Face rounded up the four hottest nightposts in the swinging New London Weekend. The Wag had been open less than a year and his pitch was: “We’d like people to come in with a sense of beano and to leave with hangovers and blisters on the feet.”

Chris Sullivan,Christos Tolera, Blue Rondo à la Turk, pop group, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s,

Sullivan and Christos Tolera in 1981: vocalists with Blue Rondo à la Turk, photographed for The Face by Mike Laye

Despite his origins in the Welsh Valleys and being built like a rugby player – “I’m six foot two and sixteen stone” — Sullivan’s unswerving sense of personal style got him into two London art schools while his exuberant warehouse parties during 1978-9 established him as a pivotal tastemaker in the post-punk vacuum. It goes without saying that his two passions were music and clothes. And that his wit was as quick as silver.

By 1980 he was the highly articulate pathfinder for the non-gay men’s team putting the Blitz Kids in the headlines. The ultimate soundbite “One look lasts a day” was Sullivan’s. Here was a New Romantic dandy whose ever-changing attire referenced every movie matinee idol from zoot-suited gangster to straw-hatted playboy to Basque bereted separatist. Here was an MC who along with his deejay contemporaries displaced electronics in favour of funk — drawn initially from his own collection of 7-inch singles — at a string of creative weekly club-nights, St Moritz, Hell, Le Kilt and then the Wag in the huge premises that had been known as the Whisky-A-Go-Go since the Swinging 60s.

During three helter-skelter years British music trended from punk, Bowie, electro-pop and mutant disco back to James Brown and funk. “Things moved so fast then, that the 80s heralded a completely new era,” Sullivan said. The claim he will not make is about his own enormous circle of influence. Back in the dark age before mobile phones the defining measure of his social clout came from Steve Dagger, manager of Spandau Ballet. He gave me the priceless paradigm: “You could put Sullivan outside a public lavatory, announce a party and within two hours you’d have a queue of 500 people paying £3 to get in.”

Few other individuals on the London scene of the early 80s had a greater impact than Chris Sullivan on shaping the intimate relationship between sound and style in the private worlds of the new young.

Blue Rondo gig 1982: zoot-suited fans mashing up a dancefloor in Bournemouth. Photography by Shapersofthe80s

Under his partnership with Ollie O’Donnell, who himself had already made a clubland institution of Le Beat Route, the Wag eventually ran seven nights a week to become Soho’s coolest hangout for artful posers and musical movers and shakers. In Sullivan’s own words, the place “basically predicted the future of music for the next 15 years” which gratifies him no end.

The club’s unique appeal was a reflection of his sub-cultural instincts, which were refined as a teenage graduate of the Northern Soul scene during the 70s. The Wag also proved a mighty kick in the teeth for the smug ruling elite in the rock press — those “white middle-class punks who couldn’t dance and hated black music” and whose vitriolic attacks on Blue Rondo undermined industry faith in his stylish seven-piece band and their jazzy Latinised funk.

Blue Rondo à la Turk was a dream project inspired after Sullivan made “one of those mad trips” to the black clubs of New York in 1980: “I wanted to start a band that would play the music I could dance to — a mix of Tom Waits meets Tito Puente meets James Brown, and all a bit off-kilter.”

Rondo were a bizarre multi-racial troupe of live musicians who also boasted wild dancing feet and tapped into like-minded audiences who’d misspent their youth on Britain’s underground soul circuit, a mighty fanbase either unknown to or utterly scorned by the rock press. His band were born entertainers and their first album, Chewing the Fat, was easily the most inventive of 1982. Not long ago Sullivan vented his spleen to me: “Those middle-class twits in the music press hated us because we had the effrontery to play dance music and we weren’t black, but also because we dressed up onstage — which basically became the remit for the next two decades. The press were all-powerful in those days and some took it upon themselves to make us their whipping boys.”

Well, the magnificent seven in Blue Rondo were precursors of the wags Sullivan named a nightclub for: “The wag from the 20s was a bit of a cad, wore monocle and spats, was a mean dancer and very much the ladies’ man.” Musically, his Soho nightspot was the most progressive venue of the 80s. Nowhere else came close. “I knew from day one we were selling a Saturday night nobody else was doing — a really hip club which played all manner of black dance music.” Only last month before deejaying at the Southbank’s Vintage festival, Sullivan wrote: “The Wag is important because it opened funk and black music to a huge, new crowd of people which still prevails. We were one of the first to do it and it’s still going on.”

➢ Mention Sullivan’s name at the gate for 50% discount on the West Dean Festival tickets or mail chris [@] sullivan60.co.uk

Adam Ant ,The Good The Mad & The Lovely,pop group,West Dean Festival,

80s hero Adam Ant: on the road this year with The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse, pictured by Marc Broussely

West Dean Festival, Polecats, rockabilly ,rock group,

80s rockabilly band The Polecats: scheduled to play West Dean Festival, photographed last year by Steve Wadlan

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➤ Index of posts for March

depeche mode, Remixes 2,electro-pop,

Three faces engraved by a life in rock: Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore have between them survived depression, addiction, mental instability, attempted suicide, divorce and fatherhood

➢ 2011, Adam Ant reveals his terrifying years in purgatory

➢ Martin Kemp’s live tutorial via bass cam

➢ 2011, Clarke and Wilder pile in for Depeche Mode’s ultimate remix album

Mick Karn, Peter Murphy, Dalis Car, pop music

Mick Karn and Peter Murphy: teamed as Dalis Car in 1984

➢ Mick Karn takes a last journey in Dalis Car 2

➢ Anna’s Army — how the English-born editor of Vogue became her own global brand

➢ Crazee or crazed? David Lynch’s view of Duran’s live concert from within his hellish cave

➢ 1932–2011, Liz Taylor — Hollywood glamour to a T

➢ 2011, Despite sniffy critics, ultimately Duran’s best album since their glory years

➢ Smartphones become UK shoppers’ essentials

➢ 2011, Spandau and Duran square up for battle just like the old days

➢ Gary Kemp puts his neck on the block — Spandau ‘the best live British band of the Eighties’

➢ Haunting video catches grim carnage of the Japanese tsunami

➢ 1981, The day Duran’s fortunes really took flight — 30th anniversary of Planet Earth

➢ Kid Creole’s in pink so he’s ready for the funk

Duran Duran, 2011, All You Need Is Now, YouTube, live stream, pop music

Duran Duran earlier this year: US and European tours, plus a live concert stream. Picture courtesy duranduran.com

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