Adam Ant: Friend, Not Foe

My first vivid memory of Adam Ant was the cover of Prince Charming. I think I was about 12 or 13, and to me he looked like a cross between an American Indian, a pirate and a cross dressing English pooftah. Being the curious and impressionable youth that I was (and remain, at least in my own mind), I  had to investigate further.

To be perfectly honest I hated it. It was around the same time I discovered the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Cramps and Ant’s music, at least on this album, seemed too twee, and his falsetto yelps weren’t helping the situation.

A year or so passed and a good buddy of mine brought Kings Of The Wild Frontier over to my house and put it on my folks old console stereo that I inherited down in the basement I made into a flat. He played me Antmusic first, and the guitar sounded a hell of a lot different and more edgy than anything on the Prince Charming LP. Further tracks such as Dog Eat Dog, the title track, The Magnificent 5 and especially Physical (You’re So) and the faux spaghetti western flavors of Los Rancheros hooked me after only one spin. The drum beat was the most unique sound I had heard up to that point, and it was only years later that I discovered that Ant used two drummers and that the sound was dubbed “The Burundi Beat” after a landlocked country in a region of Eastern Africa whose peoples are famous for traditional drumming using the amashaki, ibishikiso and ikebana drums (thanks ever so much, Wikipedia). At any rate it was a very appealing and sort of subversive sound and I went right out to my local used record store and bought Frontier and Dirk Wears White Sox, working my way backwards through their discography.

Ant soon split from the rest of the “ants” and with guitarist/friend/musical collaborator/muse Marco Pirroni cut his solo debut in Friend Or Foe. I really liked it a lot. I mean, what’s not to like with infectious tracks such as Goody Two Shoes, Place In The Country, the title track and Something Girls. Many years later I can now admit that the album has it’s share of filler (the cover of Hello I Love You being especially odious). Still, it’s a fun album but sadly it’s also his last decent one. Mental illness (undiagnosed at the time, I believe), poor timing and all around bad tunes soon sent me in a different direction. I still covet those early albums, and those who are content to write off Adam Ant as a one hit wonder, or a novelty act are missing out on a ton of really great songs.

My top 15 Adam Ant songs in chronological order:

From Dirk Wears White Socks…

Cartrouble Parts 1 and 2; Zerox

From Kings Of The Wild Frontier…*

Dog Eat Dog; Antmusic; Los Rancheros; Ants Invasion; Kings Of The Wild Frontier; Physical (You’re So)

*(This is Adam Ant’s best album. You really should just go ahead and buy the whole damn thing, really)

From Prince Charming…**

Stand And Deliver; That Voodoo; Scorpios

**(note: Ant Rap, from this album, has to be a contender for one of the worst songs of all time! Avoid like the plague!)

From Friend Or Foe…

Friend Or Foe; Goody Two Shoes; Desperate But Not Serious; Crackpot History and the Right To Lie