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Adam Ant / Adam And The Ants iTunes Tracks Adam Ant / Adam And The Ants Official Website

Adam Ant / Adam And The Ants

Revisiting glam-rock as if punk-rock never happened, new-romantic pirate/highwayman ADAM ANT was never short of charisma – or was that just cockiness verging on disdain? Nevertheless, Adam – born Stuart Leslie Goddard, 3 November 1954, Marylebone, London – was the toast of the teenager in the early 80s, reeling off hit after hit dressed in resplendent garb that would’ve made Jack Sparrow blush with embarrassment.
The sight of the ever photogenic Adam (and his Ants) striding boldly through various video adventures like some dandy Indiana Jones was the stuff of girly fantasy, and if one didn’t have a white stripe across – or indeed up – one’s nose, well, you could forget about getting lucky down at the school disco.
Yes, it was only a matter of time before Adam’s sell-by-date was due, leaving the jaded bipolar pop star to seek out further fame through antics best described as erratic. 2013 saw the dandy highwayman stand and deliver his first fresh material in 18 years, a concept with a pirate theme – now there was a novelty.
It was all very different way back in his embryonic punk days when, fresh from headlining over SEX PISTOLS with pub-rockers Bazooka Joe and a brief time leading The B-Sides, “Adam” followed the punk fashion route (via MALCOLM McLAREN and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX boutique shop) to form his own band. At first with London-ites Lester Square (guitar), Andy Warren (bass) and Paul Flanagan (drums) at his side, until the former left to fulfil art college commitments (he later formed The MONOCHROME SET), ADAM AND THE ANTS played gigs around the capital between spring and autumn 1977; Lester was replaced by Mark “Gaumont” Ryan.
Initially a fairly rote punk act with attitude, what got the band noticed was their lurid stage show and penchant for S&M trappings. Further personnel changes resulted in Flanagan’s vacant berth being filled by Dave Barbe/Barbarossa, and it was this line-up that Derek Jarman was sufficiently enamoured with to offer the band (mainly Adam, in the role of Kid) parts in his controversial punk flick, Jubilee, premiered the following spring; cherry-picked from several demo cuts, two songs featured on the accompanying Various Artists soundtrack: `Plastic Surgery’ and `Deutcher Girls’ – belatedly released four years on to become a Top 20 entry when “Antmusic” mania was in full-flow.
As 1978 unfolded, Adam, Andy, Dave, and newbie guitarist Matthew Ashman, were ready to finally unleash a long-awaited major-label debut 45. As punk was dying a death and the new wave was looming large, the almost-pedestrian `Young Parisians’ garnered mixed reviews, and, as a result, Decca Records showed them the door forthwith; it was ironic indeed when it gate-crashed the Top 10 exactly two years later. Taking up residence at Robin Scott’s independent Do-It Records (the man behind M and “Pop Muzik”), follow-up single `Zerox’ struggled to raise ADAM AND THE ANTS’ profile into the mainstream.
DIRK WEARS WHITE SOX (1979) {*7}, had the “marmite effect” on many pundits and punters; described by some as a morose slab of post-punk doom-mongering, or simply visionary and visceral. Opening cut `Cartrouble’ – a song subsequently re-mixed and released as a single which, much like its predecessor, had to wait a year before reaching the charts – was clever enough, as was the dangerously pseudo-religious/political, `Day I Met God’ and `Catholic Day’ (name-checking the death of John F. Kennedy). Of the others, the uptempo-punk twist of `Animals And Men’, guaranteed a long stay atop the indie charts for the Dirk Bogarde-inspired LP, while Top 20 again beckoned for his baying record-buying fans; the record stood in stark contrast to their later albums by the remodelled ADAM AND THE ANTS.
To promote the album, bassist Leigh Gorman was drafted in at short notice to replace The MONOCHROME SET-bound Warren, and thinking former SEX PISTOLS Svengali MALCOLM McLAREN could aid his/their route to stardom, Adam ill-advisedly hired the unscrupulous manager. After dreaming up the flamboyant new image (a surprisingly effective, if retrospectively ridiculous native American-cum-swashbuckling pirates concept), whisked Adam’s backing band (Barbe, Ashman and Gorman) off to back teen sensation Annabella Lwin in BOW WOW WOW.
Virtually written off by his critics, Adam came swaggering back with an altogether different line-up (guitarist Marco Pirroni from The Models, bassist Kevin Mooney, plus twin-drummers Merrick/Chris Hughes and other “Models” man Terry Lee Miall), but more importantly a new contract on C.B.S. Taking their cue from the Burundi drummers of Africa, ADAM AND THE ANTS had stumbled on a unique musical mutant which combined retro rock’n’roll with pseudo-tribal, dayglo pouting pop; teenyboppers loved it and a string of anthemic singles, `Dog Eat Dog’, `Antmusic’ and the thundering title track all rocketed to the higher regions of the charts. The accompanying album, KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER (1980) {*8}, rode to the top of the charts (even scraping into the American Top 50) and, for a brief but war-painted period, Britain was gripped with “Antmania”. Not since 70s icon MARC BOLAN (and his T. REX) had the music world witnessed a glitter-ized geezer that regarded little for his roots, fleshing out pop-rock like there was no tomorrow. Still, if one couldn’t love the unadulterated fun-time of the singles or the harder-edged `Killer In The Home’, `Feed Me To The Lions’ and the disco-fied `Don’t Be Square (Be There)’, there had to be something seriously wrong with Thatcher’s Britain – what d’ya mean there was!?
Adam was clever enough to slightly tweak his image on the follow-up set, PRINCE CHARMING (1981) {*6}, this time going for a dashing highwayman-cum-18th century courtier get-up. It was even more effective; the group scoring two chart-topping singles in quick succession with `Stand And Deliver’ and the title track, while `Ant Rap’, soared into the Top 3. The haberdashery video age upon us, the entertaining Mr. Ant roped in all and sundry on the promos; iconic actress Diana Dors waving her magic wand on one in particular.
To be fair to the man, he had the good sense to disband a disgruntled and oft-ridiculed ADAM AND THE ANTS at the height of their fame, although by carrying on as ADAM ANT in a vaguely similar vein, the singer was bound to suffer a backlash sooner or later. Retaining sidekick Pirroni (mainly as co-songwriter), ANT’s solo career nevertheless got off to an auspicious flyer with No.1 single `Goody Two Shoes’, while the accompanying album, FRIEND OR FOE (1982) {*6}, dented the Top 5 (and bizarrely enough, as with the single, the US Top 20); follow-on 45s, `Friend Or Foe’ and `Desperate But Serious’, drew-in scaled-down charts positions, and one should avoid his karaoke rendition of The DOORS’ `Hello, I Love You’.
The following three years brought only two major hits in `Puss ‘n Boots’ (from STRIP (1983) {*4}) and `Apollo 9’ (from VIVE LE ROCK (1985) {*4}), and it looked increasingly frustrating that the singer would be following the same pattern that befell BOLAN – although thankfully, not its ultimate and tragic course. ANT took just over four years off to develop his career in other directions, while Pirroni had already joined SPEAR OF DESTINY.
Steadying the ship a little, and after an all-too-brief appearance at Live Aid, ANT took up acting again, appearing in the stage production of Entertaining Mr. Sloane. After retiring to the States in ’86, the former idol took a role in the film Slam Dance (1986), and TV serials, The Equalizer, Sledge Hammer, Tales From The Crypt and Northern Exposure; he was also behind the theme tune to STEWART COPELAND’s score to the film, Out Of Bounds. By the turn of the decade, ANT (and Pirroni) was back with an underwhelming new single, `Room At The Top’, lifted from the album, MANNERS & PHYSIQUE (1990) {*4}. Both discs enjoyed a brief stint in the Top 20, but were largely ignored as the nation’s pop kids raved and rocked to acid house. The same could be said for the Britpop bandwagon-esque, WONDERFUL (1995) {*5} a set which garnered support from his younger peers on both sides of the Big Pond. A return to acting again resulted in a major character role beside DEBORAH HARRY in the following year’s rock’n’roll movie Drop Dead Rock! Having been married once before, to Carol A Mills (1975-82), dated the likes of Amanda Donohoe, Jamie Lee Curtis and Heather Graham over the years, Adam took the plunge again in 1997, when he wed Lorraine Gibson; they had one child together but subsequently divorced.
Post-millennium, the ageing ANT ran into a bit of trouble due to him brandishing a WWII gun in a pub when he was refused entry. Early in 2002, AA was arrested by police and taken to a mental unit of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London. Fully recovered and on the strength of his autobiography, Stand & Deliver (published in 2006), the singer decided on a return to the world of music, performing a sing-and-tell show LIVE AT THE BLOOMSBURY (2008) to promote his book, in September 2007.
While music holds no surprises these days, it was indeed a shock that the man would re-surface with, of all things, an arty-farty concept album. Released in January 2013 as ADAM ANT IS THE BLUEBLACK HUSSAR IN MARRYING THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER {*6}, and with self-promotion via guest appearances on everything from morning TV to the Jonathan Ross show – complete with long-time cohorts/pensmiths Boz Boorer, Chris McCormack (from 3 COLOURS RED) and Pirroni. Of the album itself, one could see the point of the DYLAN-meets-glam-esque `Cool Zombie’, `Punkyoungirl’, `Hardmentoughblokes’ (one for Danny Dyer) and the BOLAN-ish `Sausage’, but not a re-trudge of an old McLAREN-days demo, `Who’s A Goofy Bunny?’.
© MC Strong 1994-2006 /GRD// rev-up MCS Oct2013

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