Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter
|Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter|
|Studio album by Adam Ant|
|Released||21 January 2013|
|Genre||Rock, pop rock, post-punk|
|Producer||Adam Ant, Boz Boorer, Chris McCormack|
|Adam Ant chronology|
|Singles from Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner's Daughter|
Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter is the sixth solo studio album by Adam Ant. The album's title was announced by Ant in the NME in April 2010. As per Adam's announcement at his gig in Chatham in September 2012, the new album was released on 21 January 2013 by Ant's own record label Blueblack Hussar Records. Despite the independent self-release, the album reached number 25 on the UK Albums Chart, only one place lower than its predecessor, released on the major EMI label nearly eighteen years earlier. It had previously been at number 8 in the Midweeks.
Background and development
In 2009, it was announced that Ant was planning on putting a new record out, with "sources" telling The Sun that labels were involved in a bidding war over the new material. Adam Ant started working on the album in late 2009. The majority of the double album was recorded with Boz Boorer on a laptop. In addition, former 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack co-wrote six tracks for the album (four of which appeared on the finished product). Also, originally he was due to have been recording with writing partner Marco Pirroni. However they separated and scrapped all work around March 2010 coinciding with Ant's return to live performance. In place of these, Ant rerecorded five songs from a late 1990s demo session with Pirroni; four of these five made it to the final track list. The songs "Sausage" (originally titled "Call Me Sausage"), "Vivienne's Tears", "Hard Men, Tough Blokes" (originally titled "Tough Blokes") and "Punkyoungirl" were originally demos from 1997 which had been reworked for the album.
Ant explained that the idea behind the album's title was that the Blueblack Hussar was his classic Kings of the Wild Frontier-era persona, back from the dead, while the phrase 'marrying the gunner's daughter' (an old naval term for a form of corporal punishment in which sailors were tied to a ship's cannon and flogged) was intended by Ant to serve as a metaphor for how he believes artists are treated by the music industry.
The album first started to receive attention after NME confirmed Ant was back in the studio in March 2010. In an April 2010 interview for the NME, Ant announced he was also working a new album, with the title Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter. This was planned to feature collaborations with McCormack, Pirroni, a member of Oasis (later identified as Andy Bell) and Morrissey's writing partner Boz Boorer. Ant described the album at the time as a "live record that lends itself to performance" which would feature a "kind of concept. It's a very old fashioned, old school, step-by-step album".
In addition, Ant rerecorded a song in tribute to the late Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who died earlier that month, and who also once managed Adam & The Ants. Named Who's A Goofy Bunny Then?, the track was only previously available as a demo recorded in the early 1980s, although material from the song had been recycled in 1983 for "Libertine", a track on Ant's second solo album Strip, released that year. Despite this, Ant said he wanted to release a new version in tribute to the recently deceased punk manager. "Malcolm was a sort of mentor in my life" he explained. "As close as you can get to a surrogate father." The song, Ant explained, took its name from a term of endearment bestowed upon McLaren by Ant – referring to his "quite prominent teeth".
The track which Ant and McCormack were reported to have worked on with Beady Eye member Andy Bell was entitled "Cool Zombie". Initially Bell, allegedly at the behest of Liam Gallagher, attempted to block its inclusion on the album. This led to a quite personalised war of words between Ant and Gallagher; consequently Bell denied he had been put under any pressure. "It was totally my decision not to allow the track to be used," he said "and I'm annoyed at Liam being dragged into this situation which has nothing at all to do with him." Bell also gave further insight into the origins of the song, explaining that he and Ant have "a mutual friend who I had played around on a track with who then passed the music over to Adam without my knowledge. I then explained the track couldn't be used for his album (this was just a rough demo) and thought the matter was closed. Adam then mentioned in the press he had recorded with one of Oasis, but Liam Gallagher had banned the track from being used." Ant eventually rerecorded the song for the final release with two members of his live band, guitarist Tom Edwards and drummer Andy Woodard. Subsequently, the song became the first single from the album.
In early 2011, in preparation for a cover feature for issue 2 of Vive Le Rock magazine, Ant granted journalist John Robb an exclusive listen to the entire work-in-progress for the upcoming album. Robb reported in the feature that the songs written with McCormack were 'tough, hard neo-industrial song that sound like the Physical-era Ants' while those written with Boorer were 'really cool twangy rockers.' "Gun in Your Pocket" was 'a rocking neo-Stooges rush' and other songs were described as 'slower almost ballad-like songs, and a brace of off the wall angular moments that hark back to the groundbreaking Ants of the debut Dirk Wears White Sox album.'
In a 2012 interview, Ant's friend, backing vocalist and songwriting partner Georgina Baillie commented on the song "Gun in Your Pocket", reported to be a collaboration between Ant and herself. She confirmed that the track – which had previously been announced as an album track and single before eventually becoming the B-side to Cool Zombie, and which concerned the Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row of which she had been an injured party – was a different song from "Rubber Medusa" (concerning Brand and his later partner Katy Perry) which she and her band the Poussez Posse had been performing live in support slots for Ant's tours. "The first one that Adam and I wrote was about an ex of mine – guess who! Which is not on the (Poussez Posse) album, which is called "Gun in Your Pocket". Adam actually wrote that before he met me at the Zodiac Mindwarp gig in April (sic) 2010. That night, he told me 'I have a song about you and your granddad,' and I was 'Oh my God! That's amazing' ... I didn’t see Adam for 4 to 5 months and then I bumped into him around where we both live and we were talking and then the writing started happening ... The first one Adam and I (subsequently) wrote together was "Rubber Medusa", which was about Russell. Adam came up with the title which is a quote from the Jubilee film – the person does look like a rubber Medusa so I see why he said it."
Release and promotion
The album was released as a double album in January 2013 on CD and vinyl in a deluxe gatefold sleeve. Ant had previously expressed the intention to also release the album in the redundant cassette format. According to Ant, the front cover is "Girl in a Cocked Hat" and the back cover is "Girl in a Cocked Hat II", both of which are paintings by Mary Jane Ansell. Ant says that the girl depicted in the artwork is the gunner's daughter, and her name is Georgie "and she’s a little punk rocker".
A 40 second clip of the proposed single "Hard Men, Tough Blokes" was released on Ant's official website on 16 August 2011.
A video for the single "Cool Zombie" was filmed on 28 October, with NME running a competition offering readers a chance to be an extra in the shoot. Also cast as costumed extras in the video were several security staff, combining their performances with their more normal duties following the unwanted attentions of a fan who had threatened to turn up on location. An on-set source noted how this dual role allowed the security officers to blend in and so be on set at all times. The source further wryly reported that "the guys said it was the first time they'd ever carried out protection work while dressed as Victorian dandies." A USB wristband containing the "Cool Zombie" video is currently being sold on Ant's official website.
Allmusic.com gave the album strong praise, rating it four out of five stars. They concluded that the album's charm is "in its mess" and that Ant "has never sounded this ambitious and arty since the days of Dirk Wears White Socks and Kings of the Wild Frontier...".
The music website Louder Than War's John Robb also gave the album strong praise saying that "It's rare at this stage of the game that anyone can be arsed to be as non-compromising as this let alone remember the creative power of following your own instinct.". Robb also praised "the demo stage of the song(s)".
Longtime Ant fan (and Cool Zombie video extra) Simon Price praised the album in his review for The Independent, giving it four out of five stars. "What this album isn't is an attempt to recapture Ant's glory days: there's no Burundi double-drumming and no spaghetti-western guitar. The Ant album it reminds me of the most, in fact, is Dirk Wears White Sox: there's the same mid-fi production, and the same mix of perversion ... It's sprawling, overdue and not for everyone, but at least it's not a play-it-safe comeback with the hot producer of the day. And for that, the Hussar should be saluted."
Q magazine's David Quantick gave the album cautious praise, awarding it three out of five stars and describing it as "full of spit and vinaigrette. His ninth record is ramshackle and there's a lot of it, but it's always entertaining... everything is lively and bright-eyed, despite the demo-ish production."
London Evening Standard reviewer John Aizelwood expressed similar sentiments and gave an identical three star score. "At 68 minutes, it's a sprawling mess, a stream of consciousness featuring tributes to Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and rocker Vince Taylor, and the percussive thrill of Antmusic on Bullshit. Elsewhere, there are digs at Britain's mental health system on Shrink, self-appointed hardmen and the music industry that spat him out. A diligent editor and better production would have meant a wayward masterpiece, but this is an absorbing, troubling, sometimes brilliant album."
The Times' review was in the same vein – and with the same score. Will Hodgkinson wrote "In the early 1980s Adam Ant was the best pop star on the planet ... Some of that genius is in evidence on this comeback of sorts, but it comes as damaged goods, with a sense of frantic chaos rather than contained energy ... The problem is that all kind of good musical and lyrical themes come across as thrown together, rather than making coherent sense ... Still, there are some gems buried among the cartoonish, throwaway moments ... It's a scrappy, unfocused album, and too long at 17 tracks, but it does reveal the life force beating away inside a fascinating, original, troubled man."
Dave Simpson of The Guardian graded the album yet another three stars out of five, but his review was more straightforwardly enthusiastic – he described the LP as "a rickety but entertaining mix of the best elements of his imperial period: tribal glam stomps, razor-slashed T.Rex guitars, two-drummer Glitter beats, knowing homages to cult icons (Vince Taylor and Vivienne Westwood) and sex ... 'Dirty Beast' offers a sweeter, poppier Ant than the glam-punk of yore. While nothing quite reaches the dizzy heights of Antmusic, 'Shrink' – a perhaps autobiographical romp about a man who needs medication to feel normal – is as riotous as he's sounded in three decades.
The NME's Jeremy Allen was less complimentary, awarding the album 4 out of 10 and considering it to be too lengthy and too experimental. "(This is) an album that gives the middle finger to brevity ... really long name and record, painfully so at times. There are flashes of the old brilliance on 'Shrink' but preceding number 'Hardmenhardblokes' (sic) is as baffling as it is weird ... experimentalism meanders into the bizarre and unlistenable. That said, it's sort of heartening to have him back."
The Metro's John Lewis was similarly sceptical, awarding two stars out of five and calling it a "patchy comeback album that often sounds like an unfinished, unmixed demo … There are moments (Cool Zombie, Vince Taylor, How Can I Say I Miss You?) when Ant's pop majesty shines through but others (Punkyoungirl, Dirty Beast, Sausage) that sound like Two Ronnies punk parodies."
On Absolute Radio on 4 January 2011, Ant announced that the first single would be a double a-side of "Hard Men, Tough Blokes" and "punkyoungirl", both tracks receiving their radio premieres on the show. However, no such release took place.
In an October 2012 Pollstar interview, Ant announced that the song "Cool Zombie" would be released as a 7" vinyl with "Gun in Your Pocket" as the b-side. Ant offered Facebook fans a chance to win a signed copy of the single. As of 21 October 2012, both songs from the single have been available for purchase from iTunes.
Vince Taylor and Stay In The Game were used as the opening and closing themes for The Blueblack Hussar, a documentary about Ant's comeback during 2010-2011, directed by Jack Bond. The film contained footage of the above-mentioned preview playback given to Robb in early 2011, in which Ant and his friend Katherine d'Hubert were seen dancing together in Ant's kitchen to the track Shrink.
- "Cool Zombie"
- "Stay in the Game"
- "Marrying The Gunner's Daughter"
- "Vince Taylor"
- "Darlin' Boy"
- "Dirty Beast"
- "Cradle Your Hatred"
- "Vivienne's Tears"
- "Who's A Goofy Bunny?"
- "How Can I Say I Miss You?"
- "How Can I Say I Miss You? (Reprise)"
In addition to the above track listing, between 2010 and the album's release Ant also discussed other potential candidates for inclusion on the album:
- "Gun in Your Pocket", now released as the B-side to "Cool Zombie", (omitted from the album despite earlier stated intentions)
- "When I Was A Sperm" cover of song by Master Wel.
- "Bumpy Capers" song by Ant and Pirroni, shared late 1990s origin with their other collaborations on album, (included on rough demonstration version of album compiled early 2011).
- Tracks 1, 10, 12, 16 written by A.Ant/C.McCormack
- Tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 17 written by A.Ant/B.Boorer
- Track 3 written by A.Ant/B.Boorer/M.Walker
- Tracks 8, 9, 13 written by A.Ant/M.Pirroni
- Tracks 11, 14 written by A.Ant
- Adam Ant: Vocals (all tracks), Guitars (tracks 9,11 and 14), Bass (tracks 8, 9, 13 and 14), Electric Mandolin (tracks 9 and 13), Keyboards (track 3)
- Marco Pirroni: Guitars (tracks 8, 9 and 11)
- Boz Boorer: Guitars and Bass (tracks 2–7, 15 and 17), Double Bass (track 17)
- Chris McCormack: Guitars (tracks 10,12 and 16)
- Tom Edwards: Guitars and Bass (track 1)
- Andy Woodard: Drums (track 1)
- Will Crewdson: Guitars (track 14)
- Johnny Love: Drums (track 14)
- Tree Carr: Keyboards and Glockenspiel (track 14)
- Matt Walker: Drums (track 3)
- Mary Jane Ansell: Album cover and back painting
- Rob Lucas: Wardrobe Design (for album artwork photographs and tour)
|UK Albums Chart||25|
|UK Indie Albums Chart||3|
|US Albums Chart||205[nb 1]|
- "Bubbling under" position
|2012||"Cool Zombie"||UK Singles Chart||154|
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