Sometimes whenever a music act or performer vanishes for extended amounts of time, and then releases a new album of music, it’s called a comeback, whether they’ve really been away or not. Adam Ant does this a lot, and then disappears, sadly not making the mark he should have made as a returning star.
The truth is, Adam’s comebacks haven’t held much juice since the 1990s. However, his latest attempt, released this past Tuesday is very different. Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter besides having the very eclectic title, is also an awesome album, and a true and worthy comeback for the former new wave rock idol. Welcome back, Adam! More after the jump.
I first became aware of Adam Ant, and/or at the time, Adam and the Ants, waaay back in 1980. Radio diva Cyndy Drue had a monthly TV show, “The Rock ‘n Roll Show,” that spotlighted new music trends and bands, sort of a video version of what she did on the radio every day. Back in the days before programmed music, when deejays who picked their own music, Cyndy Drue was one of the best. She knew everything about rock music – past, present, and in the case of Adam Ant, future. She did a feature on this band that was coming to Philadelphia – Adam and the Ants.
I saw the costumes, and the make-up, and in 1980, despite being a huge Bowie fan, I was still a bit wary. Then I saw the two drum kits, and heard the sound. I was in love. Scraping together allowance, I bought not just the first album, but also the second, the next time I got to the local mall Listening Booth. Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming quickly became my favorite music of the moment.
Once those two albums made stars of the band, and especially of its eponymous front man, Adam went solo, bringing along with him writing partner and bandmate Marco Pirroni. The two were essentially the Lennon and McCartney of Antmusic, the sovereigns of the sound. The first solo album, Friend or Foe, yielded several singles including the huge hit, “Goody Two Shoes.” Sadly however, from there it was kinda downhill.
Strip was big but not as big as the last, and then by the time Viva Le Rock came around, I think it was only the hardcore fans who were around. Even though I loved it, the critics and the music buying public disagreed. “Room at the Top” and “Wonderful” were low-flying singles from the next two releases (no matter how much I liked them) and then dear Adam seemed to take a powder.
There were injuries, bouts with mental illness, and a rather intriguing television and film career, but for the most part, Adam had disappeared. Every once in a while though, he would tour, with whispers of a new album. Finally those whispers have proven true.
Adam Is Back
Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter was released this past Tuesday. Here’s a peek at the first official video, “Cool Zombie”…
Wow. He’s still colorful, still in make-up and wild costumes, and still surrounded by beautiful women. His latest look is almost an evolution, a conglomeration of all of his previous looks, just as the new album does with sounds. Something new for the new fans, but familiar and soothing for the older fans. I have friends who have seen his most recent tour, and the man has lost neither his charisma nor his energy. And here’s Adam himself, talking about his endeavors, both new and old.
Wow. Good stuff there. The above interview really gives the impression of how really important the man is to the music of the last few decades. If Adam Ant wasn’t inspired by it, or in it, he inspired it.
The album title references a nautical phrase, whereupon a sailor is tied to a cannon and whipped, something Adam believes the music industry does quite a bit of, or used to, as he notes in the interview above. I was hipped to the release of the album by my friend Robin Renee, a musician herself, who noted a Memphis vibe to the album. I noticed, and Adam has verified in interviews, that the album is a return to his Kings of the Wild Frontier persona. You can hear this on several tracks, but really if you listen, it contains bits of Adam from every era, and beyond. Also unique, it’s been released on vinyl, as well as CD.
Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter is a large album, with a mind boggling seventeen tracks, eighteen if you count the B-side of “Cool Zombie,” a great tune called “Gun in Your Pocket.” It oozes sexual double entendre, a skill set Adam has returned to full force here, especially on “Sausage.” The sounds are also soft and hard here, evidence that this is a bit of everything Adam has learned over his career. There’s a mix here, postpunk, new romantic, hard rock, blues, ballad, it’s all here. Adam collaborates with Pirroni on four tracks, and the rest of the album with Boz Boorer, late of Morrissey, and still others with Chris McCormack.
Among my faves are the title track with its competing old vibe and new sound throughout. It could just as well be a new 2013 cover of an old Ants tune. “Bullshit” is another with an old/new duality. “Hardmentoughblokes” is a catchy rocker with a punk sensibility backed by an industrial groove. There’s also “Who’s a Goofy Bunny,” a tribute to Malcolm McLaren. “Shrink” is my baby, the best track on the album for me. Hard and loud enough to make you do a double take as to who you’re listening to. Alive and raw and cool – the whole album is.
So what are you waiting for? Get on over to iTunes and give the Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter a taste! Or a lick. Heh, you know Adam. *wink*