Thursday, May 6, 2010

“Put some wax on the tracks and slide on outta here!”

Ahhh. Adam Ant. What can I say? Whether sans or avec his “Ants”, the guy’s got tons of talent and the music world will never see another like him.

I don’t know exactly what it was that started my interest in Adam Ant, but I think it was hearing “Goody Two Shoes” on the radio a long long long time ago. Recently, as some of you may know, I’ve been on an early-MTV music kick. I made an entire playlist on iTunes of obscure MTV stuff (i.e. Chilliwack, ph.D, Rupert Hine) and popular MTV stuff (Duran Duran, The Police, Pat Benatar). I was on a mission, and I came across a site that listed a song called “Stand and Deliver” by Adam and the Ants from their incredible 1981 album Prince Charming. I decided to give it a try.

What I heard surprised, excited, and amused me. How can someone have the balls to make a pop song sound like cowboys gone wild? I was hooked. I started downloading songs like a maniac and came across what would become some other favorites.

Before I post the links to the YouTube videos of my favorites, let me first explain why I think Adam was so great.

I personally prefer Adam avec his ants because they just made better music then. He and his cohort, Marco Pirroni, were the leaders of the pack, but they got some complementary skills from the rest of the Ants. The group debuted with a fierce album called Zerox, but it wasn’t until Kings of the Wild Frontier came out in 1980 that their success took off, especially in England. Let’s face it; you’ve never heard a sound like theirs. They effortlessly blend punk, new wave, pop, and sometimes elements of country with no problem. Adam’s voice soars high above the music, even in its whiniest of notes. And let’s not forget the videos. Oh, the videos! I wasn’t alive in 1981, but I can imagine seeing a man dressed as a swashbuckling anti-hero prancing about with his other dandy highwaymen was pretty new at the time. The makeup, the hair, the look…it was all gender bending, innovative, and pretty damn cool. It was the 80s. I give him much credit.

Listen to Adam Ant in later years too. He broke free from the Ants in 1982 but kept Marco along for the ride. They made great songs, especially “Goody Two Shoes”, “Friend or Foe”, “Desperate But Not Serious”, “Puss ‘n’ Boots”, and “Vive Le Rock”. There was just something missing from his later work that was vital to his early success. Was it the energy? (I mean, for God’s sake, listen to “Ant Rap” from the Ants from 1981’s Prince Charming. Not only did they tackle “rapping” when it was still a fetus in the NYC streets, but Adam exudes so much pride in his crew (Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee, Gary Tibbs…and yours truly!”) and wails like his life depends on it. That’s energy right there.) Was it the attitude? Was it the style? Was the innovation lost?

Now Adam was notoriously crazy, moody, and nasty, especially with INXS during a 1983 tour. We all know how much I adore INXS, so you would think I’d turn a stiff glance away from the Ants, but I just can’t. First, Adam suffers from being bipolar, so you can’t fault the guy that much, but secondly, art is art. Talent is talent. Credit is due where credit is due.

And here are my three favorite Adam and the Ants songs:

1. “Stand and Deliver” (from 1981’s Prince Charming)

2. “Antmusic” (from 1980’s Kings of the Wild Frontier)

3. “Scorpios” (from 1981’s Prince Charming)

Check them out, and enjoy.

Peace, B

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