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Baker's Dozen

Apollo 13: Adam Ant’s Favourite Albums
Joe Clay , January 21st, 2013 06:44

Adam Ant is back after years in the creative wilderness. Here he discusses his all-time favourite LPs with Joe Clay

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Adam Ant is back. Rocking a look like Captain Jack Sparrow fighting in the Napoleonic wars, the Dandy Highwayman (now 58) is releasing his first album since 1995’s Wonderful. Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter is his sixth solo album and ninth in total; a sprawling, rather unfocused collection of 17 songs that show flashes of his skill to concoct an agreeably rowdy racket with a chart-bothering hook. "No two are the same," he says, which is kind of the problem, but also understandable considering how long he’s been away, and how many aborted attempts there have been at a musical comeback.

"It takes as long as it takes sometimes," he reveals over the phone, when I call him up to talk through his choices for Baker’s Dozen. He has bipolar disorder, which has sometimes resulted in complete creative shutdown (and Ant being sectioned for six months in 2002), and as somebody who enjoyed ten Top 10 singles between 1980 and 1983, there is a lot for him to live up to. He insists that he isn’t chasing chart positions anymore. "I’ve had my fill of that," he says. Speaking about his condition to Chris Sullivan in The Times in 2011, Ant said, "Every creative artist I’ve ever admired – Keats, Byron and Kurt Cobain – had bipolar disorder. A lot of creative people are born like that and it’s their different take on things that give them the edge. As for me, I’m a bit of a nutcase."

Despite the grandiose title, the album is mainly autobiographical. There are songs about Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, his old mentors from the punk days, as well as a pervy one about Kate Moss and another about the infamous Sachsgate phone prank (Georgina Baillie, subject of said call, is one of Ant’s friends and backing singers, and he is releasing an album by her band – Georgie Girl & Her Poussez Posse – on his record label). Ant still favours two drummers, lending the tracks the rousing Burundi-inspired, tribal thump of his purple period, and the guitars are slashing and raw, with the riffs equal parts razor-sharp glam to punk thrash. The majority of the songs were written with Morrissey cohort Boz Boorer, and Chris McCormack, formerly of Creation-signed hard rockers Three Colours Red, was also involved.

There is also a film, due out in the summer and produced by Jamie Reynolds of the Klaxons, following Ant over the past couple of years as he returned to performing live. "I played some of the old punk haunts, just to see what it was like to play live again," he explains. "But there’s not a lot of music in it (the film). It’s quite raw and brutal. It’s mainly behind the scenes, me getting it together. And I meet Charlotte Rampling in Paris. It’s chaotic. It culminates with me playing with Rod Stewart in Hyde Park in front of 100,000 people."

Of his choices for Baker’s Dozen Ant reveals, "It tends to change, but these are the ones that primarily helped me get into music and have influenced me songwriting wise and visually, or just albums that I go to for particular reasons. I’ve got quite a few records, but I’ve listened to them all thoroughly. I don’t just buy records for the sake of it. These are the ones I’d take to a desert island."

Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter is out now on Blueback Hussar Records. Check adam-ant.com for details

Click on the photograph below to start reading Adam Ant’s selection.

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Jan 21, 2013 2:18pm

can't be faulted

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danmac
Jan 21, 2013 3:02pm

Some of my favourite records and artists there. Probably the worst ever Miles album though. ( Nice to read that he was at the same Hammersmith gig as I was though)

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Rooksby
Jan 21, 2013 5:29pm

The Duchess of York is a Legendary Stardust Cowboy fan?? Mind blown...

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Andrew
Jan 21, 2013 7:27pm

Jonathon Richman is from Boston area. Roadrunner is about driving around Boston. Other than that a good list.

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Jeff
Jan 21, 2013 8:19pm

For my tastes, an all but flawless selection. Awesome.

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Apop
Jan 21, 2013 8:36pm

Good list, fun read, thank you Mr. Ant. Um...worst gig ever? It's gotta be following Michael Jackson the first time he'd done the moon walk. I've seen that footage, the place became fookin' unhinged when he pulled that out. Sorry Mr. Ant, that had to have been an SOB going on after!

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Rick
Feb 5, 2013 8:29pm

Joe,

I had reservations about buying the new Adam Ant record and before your article I'm sure I would not have gotten around to it. As much as I've listened to Adam in the past, most comebacks by older artists who haven't consistently worked are not great and I probably should have listened to some of it online first. But reading this from your article made me rush out on an impulse and buy a copy of the CD yesterday because it sounded like a best case scenario for what I wanted this comeback to be...

"Ant still favours two drummers, lending the tracks the rousing Burundi-inspired, tribal thump of his purple period, and the guitars are slashing and raw, with the riffs equal parts razor-sharp glam to punk thrash."

I don't know what album you heard, but Joe, you owe me $14.16 (that's $12.99 + 9% California sales tax). You write well, but I am not sure if you really listened to this record or if you just misread the liner notes because the actual record does not fit this description in any way, shape or form. For starters, none of the tracks have the 2 drummers Adam plays with live, it is a drum machine for 14 tracks and the 3 tracks with real drums are played by a solo drummer, and no tracks have the tribal feel of some of Adam's past work. And the guitars are slashing & raw? If this had been produced at all, maybe on two tracks the riffs could have created something slashing and raw, but as is they are nothing but dull and most of these songs are ballads anyway.

I am rooting for Adam, and I really wanted this record to be good, but at best it is demo quality material for what could have been a decent 8-10 track album if a good producer had been involved. I can't believe they listed 3 producers for this album, because the biggest problem is that it doesn't sound produced at all.

Next time, actually listen to the records you describe. I take Paypal.

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