Monday, March 14, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #115

I hate it when I discover too late that a band I would really love to see live is playing within traveling distance, and I can't go because I already have other commitments.  Such is the case this coming Tuesday night, March 15th, when one of my favorite venues in Baltimore, MD, The Ottobar, will play host to one of the all-time great Punk bands, The Adicts.  It's as close as they'll be to Lancaster, PA, and I'm going to miss them! Gah! Much gnashing of teeth and shaking of my fist at Fate!

If you aren't familiar with The Adicts, let's correct that immediately!  Their brand of Punk Rock was fun and catchy without being too goofy or cartoony.  Their Clockwork Orange Droog look and lead singer Keith "Monkey" Warren's whitefaced joker makeup gave them an instant identity apart from their black-leather-spikes-and-mohawks brethren, and while they certainly were never averse to tackling the same socio-political issues other UK Punks spat their anger towards ("Mary Whitehouse," "Viva La Revolution"), their lyrical themes could at times come out of left field ("Chinese Takeaway," "Joker In The Pack," "Shake Rattle Bang Your Head")

Their 1981 debut album, Songs Of Praise, and its follow-up a year later, Sound Of Music, remain the albums to have, but this is a band who never stopped and are still releasing music 30 years later (2009 saw their 10th album, Life Goes On, hit the shelves - still with essentially the same lineup as that which recorded Songs Of Praise!)  All of their material remains in print and easily available, and there have been innumerable greatest hits and singles collections over the years.  You can jump in just about anywhere without going wrong!

From the start, The Adicts were popular enough to regularly visit the British Indie charts and make numerous television appearances - which caused great consternation for the always stodgy BBC, who did not particularly care for the band's name.  To appease the network, the band briefly adjusted their moniker to "ADX," but by the time their third album, Smart Alex, was released in 1985, they dropped that affectation.  Fifth Overture appeared a year later, and was a somewhat moodier affair than their previous recordings (Goth queen Siouxsie Sioux makes a guest appearance here!), but gloominess aside, it's a great record that had been out of print for many years before seeing CD reissue. 

The Adicts devoted the next few years to touring and recharging their batteries, resurfacing in 1990 with the live Rockers Into Orbit, which saw a nearly full return to form with several classics being energetically played before an enthusiastic crowd.  Another live record followed, 1993's Live And Loud (which was paired with a live album by the band Vice Squad in its CD format).  That same year also saw their first new material in seven years, Twenty-Seven, which calmed any doubters as to whether Monkey and the boys still had it in them.

After taking a few years off, The Adicts were back in 2002 with Rise And Shine, an album that at first caught fans a bit off-guard, but soon grew to become a favorite among the band's catalog. 2004's Rollercoaster followed in suit, and a whole new generation of fans had come to appreciate the band. They continuing touring and recording today, playing to fans both young and old.

If you are in or near Baltimore this Tuesday, do yourself a favor and go see them.  And while you're there, spare a thought for me who wishes he were there as well!  Meantime, here are two classics from The Adicts: "Viva La Revolution" and, after a brief spoken bit at the start of the second clip, the simply outstanding "Joker In The Pack." Enjoy!

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