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Adam And The Ants - Adam and the Ants

  by Helen Tipping

published: 22 / 8 / 2008

Adam And The Ants - Adam and the Ants


In our 'Soundtrack of Our Lives' series, in which our writers tell of the personal impact of music in their lives, Helen Tipping writes about being a 14 year old Adam and the Ants fan

Music plays such a big part in my life and has always been there at its many different stages, so, for this column it has been hard for me to pick one particular band or style that is a constant for me. I could choose anything from Bauhaus to the Smiths, from Goth to Grunge, from Petula Clark to Rolf Harris, depending on how far back you want me to go. In view of the difficulties facing me,I decided to go back to the band I saw first, the band that set me on a course of searching out different things and going to as many different gigs as possible and of constantly seeking the new. The band with whom I first identified during that traumatic teenage time, when hormones mean that you feel that you are only person going through it and when only someone else proclaiming their difference out loud will do. It is going to be a bit of a disappointment to readers, therefore, when I reveal that aged 14 my first love of alternative music was instigated by the bright feathers and finery of Adam and the Ants. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe it was the brightness involved, which provided an antidote to growing up with the drab brown and orange wallpapered world of the 70's. Who knows ? I would like to think it was the latter, but my Mum would probably disagree. It was customary, at that time, for us to listen to John Peel under the covers with a tinny transistor radio with a view to hearing music that was different to that played by our parents. And indeed I liked punk music, loved 'Babylon's Burning' by the Ruts and 'Anarchy in the UK', but it was getting old hat by the time I reached 14. When I say that we listened to John Peel, what I mean is that my friend Amber would listen to it and report back. For every night without fail I would get about half an hour into the show and then wake up to the test signal about two hours later. I, therefore, had to rely on Amber bouncing into the room saying "Guess what I've heard this amazing band, they're really exciting". She'd already got the 'Kings of the Wild Frontier' album and she was right. It was exciting, all African beats and singing about being different, being different together, but that didn't matter to me. Being completists we bought up the back catalogue of 'Dirk Wears White Sox' and a number of singles, including 'Young Parisians' and 'Deutscher Girls'. It was a good job I never played them to my Nan. She wouldn't have been impressed. Much begging and pleading led to us being allowed to see them by our parents on either the 'Ants Invasion' or 'Kings of the Wild Frontier' tour. I think it was probably the latter because that was at slightly larger venues and I believe we went for my 15th birthday. Sadly, by this time, things were taking a turn for the worse. Adam was turning from an alternative, outsider character into a member of the establishment, even going so far as to appear on the Royal Variety Performance. He was constantly in 'The Sun' newspaper for being involved in some sex scandal, with which my Mum and my Nan liked to taunt me, whilst cackling like Harpies, smoking Embassy No 6 and drinking tea strong enough to stand a spoon up in. They were right too, which made it even worse, Adam was descending into uncool,laughing stock material. Amber, another friend Maggie and I were ready for the next gig, or at least we thought we were. But, oh. the disappointment of 'The Prince Charming Review'. We felt like outsiders. It was full of screaming girls trying to chuck their pants at him and it was more like a children's pantomime than a gig. Except for the pants. You don't get that with small children. Well, not often. We felt betrayed, cut loose, disappointed, as only teenagers can when their band has "sold out". It would have been better if they had split up after 'Kings' we said, just as many others probably said the same about 'Dirk' a few years before. We certainly didn't want to be a part of something that met mainstream approval. Amber tried out a number of other "interesting, exciting" bands on us. I think she really liked her finds, but for me Depeche Mode were boring and tinkly, Japan were okay but didn't really set me on fire as such, and David Bowie wasn't really new although I quite like his older material, but then I was saved. "You have to hear this great band" Amber said. "They're called Bauhaus." I still have a soft spot for Adam and the Ants and recently read his autobiography. It gives an interesting insight into his character. He didn't want to be a symbol for outcast teenagers, for all his appeals on 'Kings' to be different and to stand out from the crowd. He wanted to be an entertainer of the old school. He seems to have been born out of time and his mental state was fragile at all times. Only work held him together, but he was getting less of that as his fan base deserted him and his work stopped charting. He tried acting for a while after several solo releases, but his career slowed down to a standstill and he eventually had his second mental breakdown in the mid 90's. And me ? I had moved on to Bauhaus, the Cure, the Sisters of Mercy, Nick Cave and even the Smiths. I had found the people who sung of the teenage alientation I was feeling at the time. But I wonder if I would have without Adam. Or Amber.

Picture Gallery:-
Adam And The Ants - Adam and the Ants

Adam And The Ants - Adam and the Ants

Adam And The Ants - Adam and the Ants

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