R 10

From the Crate: Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier (CBS)

This series is pulled from my personal Facebook. I recently lost my dad to Covid-19 and found myself really disengaged from social media from trying to not scroll and see stories or discussions on Covid. So to somehow remain engaged with friends and to give myself a challenge I decided to review every record in my record collection, in order. A good friend and amazing writer Scott Creney did this last year as Covid started with his CD collection, and I had some of the best music discussions I’ve had in years in the comments. These reviews aren’t related to any reissue campaign, and lots of the reviews are more about a personal connection to the record and looking back at it from the time of first hearing it to relistening now. Sometimes the reviews might be a weird story that connects the people and places from first discovery more so than the actual album itself. For me, this is an exercise in writing and giving a more personal story to my friends than a critical assessment of any album or artist. My all-time favourite music critic is Everett True, and while these are not in that league, I’m hoping I can be as honest and thoughtful as his work in telling my story and personal connections to the albums.

Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier (CBS)

Adam Ant is a genuine pop star, an original punk, an actor, and quite possibly a marketing genius. The one thing Adam Ant is not, if going by a lot of my UK friends, is cool. The first incarnation of the band known as Adam & the Antz (with a ‘Z’) was at the tail-end of punk and right on the cusp of post-punk and just as it was set to take off, his band left and then became Bow Wow Wow. Adam & the Ants (with an ‘S’) was the second act, releasing two albums before he dropped the Ants and became a solo artist. The formula was pretty convoluted, yet simple: western, surf, and rockabilly guitars, two drummers playing tribal beats, and costuming blending pirate clothing and Native American tribal face paint. Before there was Jon Spencer exclaiming “Blues Explosion” and being his own hype-man, there was Adam Ant who created his own bit of hype based around his ‘Antmusic,’ ‘Ant Rap,’ ‘Ants Invasion,’ and it just keeps going, especially if you take all the mentions of this gang and warriors, all of which include the listener. It is easy to see how he gained such a loyal following.

Adam and the Ants were wanting to be taken seriously as a band, but it wasn’t too long before the following was made up of kids and teenagers. To the press, they were a bit of a joke, but the more they embraced the absurd clothing and makeup and continued to lose the post-punk elements and embrace the pop single, the bigger they got. When this album came out in 1980, I was only five and it wouldn’t be until the American Top 40 hits of ‘Goody Two Shoes’ and ‘Strip’ that I’d get to discover his music. I bought Friend or Foe, his debut solo album (but the fourth album if you count the previous two bands’ output). It wouldn’t be long before I bought the earlier albums as well, and at seven years old, Adam Ant was easily one of my favourite bands. I spent a lot of weekends and summers over at my cousins’ house which was outfitted with amenities mine didn’t have, like go-karts, a pool, and satellite TV. Passing endless hours glued to MTV and seeing all the music videos (MTV played almost all of the Adam Ant videos early on) only made me more of a fan. I mean, I was a kid and the band were dressed like pirates, how could I not like it?

Looking back to being a kid, if a band had a unique look, I paid way more attention, and looking at my current record collection, these kinds of bands’ records are the ones that I never can take to the record store to sell-off. The B-52’s, Duran Duran, Devo, Culture Club, Adam Ant all somehow made the cut. Adam Ant was the first artist I had that I discovered that was not something I heard from my family or friends. I have a lot more to say on the next few reviews, but for now, I can say thanks to Adam Ant, Adam & the Ants, and Adam & the Antz for making such a wild racket that would make it so much easier to have other artists like The Slits, Pixies, The Fall, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and The Feelies not feel so out-of-this-world or weird, but just an extension of the pop music I already knew and loved.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.