Lex on Adam Ant (Adam and the Ants, solo)
It must have been late ’80 or early ’81 when I first saw the video for “Antmusic” by Adam and the Ants. I was up on a Friday night watching video show with my aunt Ava when we saw it. I remember being really taken by the percussion and the great guitar sound. Adam’s persona at this point was that of a English-pirate-come-native-American-Indian, with a voice that contained a dramatic yowl like a classic Hollywood movie injun.
Of course, Ava fell in love with Adam Ant. She spent the next year and a half collecting English imports of “antmusic.” After purchasing a single of “Antmusic,” she decided to invest the 7 bucks to own a copy of the US pressing of Kings Of The Wild Frontier. What a great album! Once Ava had the music from the album engraved in her song vocabulary, I spent a few weeks listening to it. It was some of the first “then” current modern music that I really liked. It wasn’t the boring Top 40 stuff, and it was more recent than the soon-to-be-labeled “classic rock.”
Kings of the Wild Frontier made me realize just how important drums are to a really rockin’ song. Dig the title track, as well as the album’s kick-ass opening track, “Dog Eat Dog.” It was musical, different, and propelled by this a really rockin’ Burundi drum rhythm that sounded like “Native American big band.” His co-writer and lead guitarist Marco Pirroni had a sound that was at once both snarlin’ and twangy like 50s guitar guru Duane Eddy. The sound of songs like “Press Darlings” and “Feed Me To The Lions” were just right for my young ears.
Sidebar: My favorite from the album was a pirate-themed tune called “Jolly Roger.” This song is like a New Wave sea chantey, and I love the lyrical interplay, as well as the vocals.
Okay, so I didn’t dig the second album, Prince Charming, as much as anyone did. But I did love the track “Stand and Deliver.” There was something that sounded playfully sinister. In the role of an English highwayman, Adam does a “roadside jack” and sings about how the experience will stay on the minds of his victims. The accompanying video was also fun to watch. The costumes and pistols were just too cool.
Another sidebar – Yes, there were some hot girls with inconsequential roles in the video, but whatever. They were good to look at, too.
I remember waiting with my mom outside the Greek Theater in L.A., waiting for Aunts Ava and Angie (who, by now was another Ant person). They had purchased tickets to see Adam and the Ants tour the Prince Charming album. I stood there and heard the last strains of an encore, then the shrieks and screams of hundreds of teenage girls. I have to admit, that experience changed me. It made me want to be a rock star.
So, Adam releases his first solo album. Friend Or Foe, in my opinion, ties with Kings as one of the defining musical moments of the 1980s. With Friend Or Foe, the creative tiger is released and it’s smart. Adam sounded like he was pissed off, but playful. He comments about the paparazzi in “Goody Two Shoes” and “Desperate, But Not Serious.” In the title track, Adam tells his fans and the world that they could love him, or leave him; he was gonna keep being himself. If you didn’t like it, tough.
Yet another sidebar – At the end of the day, my fave solo Ant track is “Friend Or Foe.” It’s got all of the ingredients that make Adam an interesting musical study. It’s got a hypnotic beat, a great guitar line that links the trumpet lines to the rhythm track, and a great message of strength through adversity.
November 3 marks the birthday of Adam Ant. Thanks for some really great rock moments Adam. I’ll never forget the cool videos, anticipating your albums, and collecting the English singles for the B-sides. Hope it won’t be long until you release an new album . . . it’s been too long, man. Cheers.
(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost. Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com/).
Note: Original release date of the ‘currently listening’ album below is listed as 1980.
Kings of the Wild Frontier
By Adam and the Ants