POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
In 1981, I clearly remember my older brother bringing home the album that would veer me off the pop music radio path that all the other nine-year olds seemed to be venturing down. Prince Charming was one of those albums we wore a groove in on the family turntable, which was leading the way of the “new wave” genre of music, ushering out all the over discoed nonsense that seemed to be dominating the recording industry at that time.
Adam and the Ants was a band that shaped the music of the early 80’s, and combined with a very young MTV, reached a much broader fan base with music videos becoming a new tool to showcase some fresh talent. Although the band name would change, many made the natural transition to the man we now know as Adam Ant, and the music he is associated with.
Adam was always a visionary in music, and even with some of the over synthesized drek that many record labels provided, he stretched musically in ways that are still musically, well, a little off. One weapon in the British rocker’s arsenal has always been his patented two drum system. I’m hard pressed to think of more than five musical acts that actually employ two drummers, but Ant has made it work like a finely tuned marching band confined to a stage. Apparently, what worked for him in 1980 is just as important now in 2013, as it can be heard on Ant’s newest offering, Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar In Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter. Weird album name, weird music to match. Trust me, though, that’s not a bad thing in this case. Add to the mix Ant’s clever use of background vocals and nonsense phrases (remember, this is the guy that made the lyric “da diddly qua qua” a focal point on “Stand and Deliver”) that almost become another instrument, and the experience of Ant’s music is truly unique.
Now at 58 years of age, Ant is still taking chances on tracks such as “Cool Zombie” providing a backwoods visit from the pioneer days or “Shrink” which is one of the best on the album, mixing Ant’s trademark sound with a frosting of Nine Inch Nails production on top. Songs such as “Vince Taylor” will satisfy Ant fans that go all the way back to the Dirk Wears White Sox days, providing a no-nonsense rhythm to get lost in. The album is a monster in having 17 tracks, but luckily, there’s something for almost everyone in this latest melting pot from Ant’s picture painted with very broad strokes.
Upon listen to this album, and not being familiar with Ant’s style, one would only come to the conclusion that this is a sample platter of several genres created by a bipolar musician. It was. Ant’s battle with mental illness has been well documented, and after decades of trying to manage his bipolar disorder, Ant has finally become once again musically functional, and has given us all something to cleanse the audio palette. However, I listened to “Antmusic” well before Ant had his mental issues, and can say that this latest release is really the true Adam Ant, as his musical gambles were just as chancy as his period piece wardrobe. Quite obviously, many of the younger generation doesn’t understand Ant, and have accused him of “stealing Johnny Depp’s act”, even though tri cornered hats were Ant’s walking around attire even as far back as 1979.
One thing can be sure, with his new album upping the ante on new releases, hopefully we as consumers won’t have to deal with yet more worn out Bruce Springsteen commentaries and Lou Reed mumblings packaged in a crappy Metallica wrapper. Don’t misunderstand me, Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar In Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter will never be the next Abbey Road. However, for a weary music scene saturated with overlooped bass and two syllable Beyonce “songs”, it may just well be the Bass Ale solution to what has been a Zima problem. That was a clear beer joke, kids. Google it.
Here’s one of the best selections from Ant’s newest album, “Shrink”.