Dirk Wears White Sox

Adam And The Ants

Columbia, 1979


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Adam Ant was Britain’s answer to Prince. He oozed sex appeal, played multiple instruments and produced the first album for his band known as the Ants. His talent wouldn’t exactly translate into dollars, however, and his string of hits would only last as long as the 1980s did. But in the British punk movement, he was one of the true originals. Confirmation of this fact can be found in the 1978 cult film Jubilee, which also featured music by compatriots Siouxsie And The Banshees.

Before going solo in 1982 with the ubiquitous hit “Goody Two Shoes,” Adam Ant released three albums with the Ants. This first one bore the unusual title Dirk Wears White Sox in reference to British actor Dirk Bogarde. Dismissed by Ant himself as being too “esoteric,” the music contained within the album sounds more like demos from a band-in-progress. Which means only one thing: fans of “slightly off” indie rock will love it. I’ve found it does improve with repeated listens, but for the uninitiated, it may be hard to sit through from start to finish.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Clearly, Adam Ant wanted instant fame and thought producing his debut album would give him instant artistic credibility. Not quite. This is one album that is just begging for a music producer who has earned his stripes and can spin straw into gold. The halting melodies of “Nine Plan Failed” and “Tabletalk” drone on but just don’t go anywhere. We keep waiting for a song we can actually latch onto and remember. Unfortunately, that moment just never comes. Now, “Car Trouble” does work as a single and the intense “Cleopatra” brings to mind the claustrophobic stuff Velvet Underground used to do. Had Adam only churned out more of the same, we might be singing a different tune here. Only as an afterthought were follow-up standalone singles “Zerox,” “Whip In My Valise,” and “Kick” included on the 2004 remastered rerelease. That’s the version of this album I recommend.

The hoots and hollers of the Ants later material can still be found, albeit sparingly on Dirk. We even hear part of a JFK speech on “Catholic Day,” though it’s all in good fun and is the loosest cut on the album. Things get really warped for “Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face),” which fans of Talking Heads will appreciate, while the nonsensical “Animals And Men” is something that only a band like Devo could decipher. It’s the musical equivalent of a Monty Python sketch, so just try to keep up, not to mention a straight face when you first hear it!

Dirk Wears White Sox ends as awkwardly as it started. Directionless primitive guitar playing, a random drum beat here and a pointless harmonica blow there. I can only imagine how this was all received by American audiences back then. The live shows couldn’t have been pretty. I can almost hear the chorus of boos and all kinds of objects being thrown at them now. This by no means is a reflection of the great music that was still to come on Kings Of The Wild Frontier and Prince Charming. Give all three a spin and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Producer Chris Hughes would transform this band into the way they intended to sound, making this uncomfortable debut album merely a curious artifact of their formative years at best.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.