Record Review: Adam Ant – “B-Side Babies” US CD

Epic/Legacy | US | CD | 1994 | EK 57895

Adam Ant: B-Side Babies – US – CD [1994]

  1. Adam And The Ants: Fall-In
  2. Adam And The Ants: Making History
  3. Adam And The Ants: Beat My Guest
  4. Adam And The Ants: Friends (Version 2)
  5. Adam Ant: Red Scab
  6. Adam Ant: Juanito The Bandito
  7. Adam Ant: Why Do Girls Love Horses
  8. Adam Ant: Yours, Yours, Yours
  9. Adam Ant: Kiss The Drummer
  10. Adam Ant: B-Side Baby
  11. Adam Ant: Greta-X
  12. Adam Ant: Human Bondage Den
  13. Adam And The Ants: Physical (You’re So)
  14. Adam Ant: It Doesn’t Matter
  15. Adam And The Ants: Christian D’or
  16. Adam Ant: Vive Le Rock (Instrumental Dub Mix)

I was a modest Adam Ant fan, but probably more of one following the hot set I saw Adam with Maco Pironni and band perform in the Fern Park Station rock club in Orlando in the spring of 1993. It was a perfect set and a fantastic show. Later that year I bought my first Adam Ant CD, a solid singles collection but the first pressing came with a bonus live CD recorded shortly before the time I saw him, so it was close to the vibe of that show. It was browising the bins the next year in Park Avenue CDs that I saw the disc above of Adam Ant B-sides and snapped it up with gusto. Show me a good collection of rarities that I don’t have to buy and compile myself, and I capitulate like a puppy dog.

Most of these songs were old Pre-Ants-era songs given a new run-thouugh with his then contemporary band. So these were older songs [from a younger time] with a band of steely-eyed, flat bellied professionals recording them. How could we lose? “Fall-In” was so old that Lester Square [later of Monochrome Set] had played it with Ant. It’s two minutes of Punk energy shot through with Adam’s penchant for pop. How many Punk songs ended with a chorus of “bop-shu-wop?”

“Making HIstory” was a track cut from the US release of “Kings Of The Wild Frontier” so that the B-side of “Dog Eat Dog” could be added to the US edition in its place. I can’t say that was a bad idea, since “Physical [You’re So]” is actually the superior song, even if it was tonally off from the “Kings” template. “Making History” was a bit of light-hearted metaphor on the topic from Adam.

And the good guys hate the bad guys,

And the bad guys hate the good guys,

And we call this making history

Making History

The torrid “Beat My Guest” was another scorcher we’ve discussed before. Surely one of the best B-sides, ever? The early Ant music [as opposed to Antmusic] was grounded in S+M themes and deliberate bad taste and the song was a lot more aggressive than the hits Adam had. It was of a piece with the aforementioned “Physical [You’re So]” but also with the “Goody Two Shoes” B-side “Red Scab.” The latter a paean to Adam’s “Pure Sex” tattoo. It was the better of the B-sides from the “Goody Two Shoes” period.

The other two from those singles were the corny joke songs of “Juanito The Bandito” and “Why Do Girls Love Horses?” These two were not Adam’s finest hours, to put it mildly. Much better things were ahead in this program with the great “Kiss The Drummer” having been the salvation of the “Puss ‘N Boots” single on its flipside. I liked the poppiness of this one and the xylophones were an unusual touch, especially with the string synths.

More strong material followed with “B-side Baby,” “Greta-X” and “Human Bondage Den.” The first of which, surely must have dated back to Adam’s Pre-Ants days with his band the B-Sides. The chugging harmonica on this one was something we usually didn’t hear on Adam’s records. It sounded like producer Tony Visconti put a chorus effect on it. “Greta-X” was the B-side to the fantastic “Vive Le Rock” single and a tip of the hat by Adam to that popular pastime, transvestism. And the latter was a cassette bonus track [remember those?] from the great “Vive Le Rock” album.

The sequencing got a little wonky three quarters the way through. We next had “Physical, {You’re So]” even though it was the B-side to 1980’s “Dog Eat Dog,” the first Adam + The Ants hit. In 1993 that song was newly ascendant due to Nine Inch Nails cover version from 1992. But Adam’s version was far wittier. I love his delivery of the line “those dirty things” which was campier than Trent Reznor would ever allow himself to be.

“It Doesn’t Matter” was an odd track, left over from the “Vive Le Rock” sessions. It’s a weird one about disliking a girlfriend due to her armpit odor. Surely the first and last time this subject ever inspired a song. At any rate, it sounded unfinished, and probably for good reason. Much stronger was the “Prince Charming” B-side, “Christian D’Or.” Wherein Adam got to list his fetishes to music. The last cut here was the “Vive Le Rocl” dub mix which [amazingly] didn’t fit on the “Vive Le Rock” DLX RM that happened over a decade later, so it’s appearance here is still the only place to hear it on the silver disc, amazingly enough.

This was a fun collection with a good hit to miss ratio. Many of these tracks have made their way to the silver disc in other releases, but in 1994, this was a singular piece for the American Adam Ant market. I’ll gather that for many years this CD was trading hands in other countries for a premium. And even today, the copies of this on the secondary market are a surprising $20-60. Which makes me doubly glad I invested by $5.00 for it almost 30 years ago. What I can’t believe, revisiting this release today, is that I never wrote a review of the wonderful “Vive Le Rock” DLX RM which my good friend Mr. Ware gifted me with almost four years ago for my birthday! I swore I reviewed that disc ages ago. I remember listening to that heavily in preparation for a review…which must have gotten bumped by some unplanned event. This must change. Watch this space.


About postpunkmonk

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11 Responses to Record Review: Adam Ant – “B-Side Babies” US CD

  1. Bridget says:

    Oooh-I like AA.. so danceable. Many bands back then also went all out with the costumery. I remember MTV showing Missing Persons with the pink hair and my Grandma at the time horrified..(even though she was a flapper in the 20s-hmmm)….hehe…AA was up there.

    Haven’t heard the B-sides above…may need to go find some.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Bridget – I see that it’s available in the iTunes store so it’s probably streamable,if that’s your thing. A copy of this and the A-sides is a very neat and tidy Adam Ant collection that’s served me well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jsd says:

    Beat My Guest is one of my favorite Ants songs ever.


  3. JT says:

    In addition to losing “Making History” in favor of “Physical”, the U.S. edition of Kings of the Wild Frontier included a track called “Press Darlings” which doesn’t seem to have ever appeared on any other Ant release. It’s a much better song than “Making History” (and so is “Physical”), so swapping one weak track for two good ones makes the U.S. version of the record a total win. The album is easily Adam’s finest moment. But of course the completist in me is glad to have “Making History” on the B-sides collection.


  4. B-Side Babies is, frankly, my favourite Adam Ant CD to date. Remembering that a lot of the material stems from the B-Sides days (with half of TMS on board) makes it even more fun!


  5. “Show me a good collection of rarities that I don’t have to buy and compile myself, and I capitulate like a puppy dog.” – Exactly! If it’s a band/artist I am “on the fence” about, then I find it a great way to discern if I am going to take the full dive and be a fan of their catalog or just the hits. In the case of Adam (and the) Ant(s) I was already a fan. I remember watching the “Stand And Deliver” video on Friday Night Videos and being blown away. I think they aired it only once but it really left an impression. I mean, heck, by the time I was introduced to him he had already dropped the “And The” and was a solo artist. It was a few years later that I was able to start picking up some of the albums, and I already had a decent chunk of the catalog when this was first issued. I snapped this up knowing it wouldn’t be available long. Not only was I wrong, I had no idea Adam’s catalog was going to be reissued and I need to repurchase it all in order get those extra tracks. This, however, still remains an absolute excellent and necessary collection, perhaps equaling a “best of” compilation.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      postpostmoderndad – This disc was definitely a “best of the rest of” compilation. As chasinvictoria says, it would do fair duty if it were the only Adam Ant disc in a collection. It captures maybe more of his raw essence than the A-sides, fun as they can be.


  6. Echorich says:

    Christian D’or is one of my favorite Ant songs. The best marriage of Glam and Punk I can think of.
    Physical and Beat My Guest are also stand outs.
    I agree with JT – the US version of Kings Of The Wild Frontier is superior to the original worldwide release. Making History is a bit more forced than the rest of KOTWF.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Sometimes US label meddling with the sanctity of an album can be a good thing! Occasionally, for every “Japan” there’s a “ Kings Of The Wild Frontier,” or “Reality Effect” where the US edition was markedly superior.


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