I grew up in a household that listened to a lot of music , either on the radio or on the my dad’s 8-track cassette player. One my earliest memories of music is being enchanted by Cat Steven’s Lady D’Arbanville, which I remember at the time thinking was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. By the time I had gone to primary school, I had absorbed my parents taste in music by The Beatles, Elton John, The Kinks, The Monkees etc. The first album I ever bought for myself was Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the second was a compilation entitled A Collection of Beatles Oldies. By the time I was seven or eight I had added their more recent acquisitions, such as Ian Dury and the Blockheads and The Stranglers to my own personal taste.
At junior school, I met a boy called Robert who had some older siblings into Punk. He would bring records into school by The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. One of my fondest memories of his time was playing The Sex Pistols’ Friggin’ in the Riggin’ at my sisters seventh or eight birthday party and everybody singing along at the top of their voices, not understanding most of the lyrics. I think that might have been a bit of a shock for my mum and her friends! One of my favourite records I owned was an red vinyl, three-track EP by Generation X, called Friday’s Angels, which was given to me by Robert and played to death for years
Probably, the first band I discovered for myself was Adam and the Ants. I first remember seeing them perform Dog Eat Dog on Top of the Pops when I was nine years old and I just made the decision that I was going to be “into” this band. Soon after this, I managed to wangle a copy of Kings of the Wild Frontier on cassette. Now this is where the collector in me took me on a slightly different course. Rather than just be content to listen to new Adam and the Ants stuff as it came out, I was determined that I would own everything they had done. This involved tracking down singles, such as Young Parisians and Xerox, as well as the 1979 album, Dirk Wears White Sox.
I finally found a copy of Dirk Wears White Sox in a small independent store, whose name I can no longer remember, in a shop in Pemberton (home town of kajagoogoo singer limahl!!) on a shopping trip with my mum and rushed home to play it. Sadly, there was some kind of pressing fault on my copy which meant that the first track Cartrouble 1 &2 kept skipping. I did take it back and try and exchange it, but I was informed by the sales assistant that the album had been discontinued and they could only offer me a refund. Faced with the option of possibly never actually possessing the album, I kept it and just learned to love the jumpy first track. I’m glad I did as I still play this same copy regularly today.
Now please forgive my youthful ignorance, but I have to confess that initially I didn’t really like the album, but, because it was Adam and the Ants, I forced myself to like it. On top of that, the album had the added appeal for a nine year old of having some swear words in the lyrics and a very naughty reference to god’s “knob”. Whatever the reasons at the time, I’m so glad I persevered with this album as it’s genuine classic and easily a rival to 154 by post-Punk legends Wire.
Besides some great songs like Digital Tenderness, with its proto-Police drum groove, and creepy sci-fi of Never Trust a Man with Egg on His Face, the album was full of stuff that I had no understanding of at that age. Animals and Men is more or less a name check of the Futurists. At the time I thought the Futurist Manifesto was something Adam Ant had made up, but I thought it sounded fascinating and perhaps even a little bit science fiction. It’s also likely that my whole view of President Kennedy is informed by Catholic Day.