Adam Ant ‘Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar In Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter’ (Blueblack Hussar Records)
Released 21st January 2013
So after all the talk and after all the speculation Adam finally delivers the album.
It’s as long and sprawling and off the wall as its title suggests and is a brilliantly uncompromising affair that has far more in common with the complex early days of Adam And The Ants of varying line ups and styles.
This is more a work of art than a work of chart and sounds all the better for it. Interestingly it’s released on his own label- Adam is back from the trough of despair and is now running the show. A major label probably wouldn’t go near a record like this which is GOOD THING – after all commerce makes cowards of us all.
Very much in the no holds barred creative spirit of 1977, this is a record that is raw, confessional and uncompromising but also has moments of blissful beauty and gentle songs. It’s fantastically eccentric and wildly imaginative and also sounds really electric. This is the second coming of the pre pop star Adam from a time when his music was equally commercial but slightly out of sync with the flabby mainstream and that, as we well know, is where the best stuff always lies. Oh, and it’s also sexy and rude and to the point.
It would have been nice to have been sent one to review after all the support we have given the Antman and we understand that you have to get reviews in the ‘big’ websites first but these days we are having the same amount of hits as the big money sites and we are also read by the kind of people who really get this kind of stuff.
Never mind, these things do not infect our thoughts on the release and there are other means of getting hold of music to review these days. It was great to hear the songs again after hearing the whole thing a couple of years ago round Adam’s flat and the music is better for getting immersed into.
First things first – it’s not easy listening; this is the rough and ready raw Adam of the early days when released songs and demos would sometimes blur into one. These are artistâs sketches instead of polished wallpaper and that’s their strength
The 21st century Adam is not in the mood for compromise and many mainstream listeners (and reviewers by the looks of things) will find the raw demo quality of some of the tracks uneasy listening but this is the most fascinating end of the Adam oeuvre (although the pop of Kings Of The Wild Frontier was also genius). The stripped naked lyrical quality of the songs is matched by the music on the songs, which were co written with several songwriters and quite often left in the early stages of creativity and not polished to death by over production.
If you are a big listener of music, there is something fascinating about the demo stage of the song, its raw honesty and its open ended suggestion of where it could go are quite thrilling and it’s not like these songs sound unfinished. They are snapshots in time, snapshots of the non-stop, mercurial mind of Adam as he jumps fro one idea to another in a deluge of hyper thinking. That’s the nature of his creativity – fast bursts of inspiration musically and lyrically and then move on- there is something quite thrilling about this scattergun approach – flashes into a different way of thinking, ripped pages from a diary and flashgun bursts of inspiration.
Adam’s songs were always at their best when they were works in progress and were always worked on over the years – like the many versions of Physical and Whip In My Valise you can track down – there is no set in stone final version and this album captures this approach. It’s like an artist painting several paintings all at once with a heedful of brilliant ideas – the true art is the flash of inspiration and not in the polish.
That was what punk rock was – it was about the moment.
The songs veer from classic Adam tribal stomps to proto industrial grind to twanging fifties flavoured workouts- like the much played Vince Taylor, which still sounds like a single as well as the lead single, the swamp blues of Cool Zombie. There is the tribute to Malcolm McLaren, Who’s a Goofy Bunny? With the title referencing the Sex Pistols maverick manager’s big teeth in an affectionate tribute to the big inspiration behind Adam and the one he had a curious business relationship with, not content with this there is also a song about Malcolm’s partner Vivienne Westwood called Vivienne’s Tears.
Adam has been busy getting the whip back out of the valise and tracks like the amusingly directly titled Sausage as well as Bullshit which are determingly sex music with lyrics like, ‘Lift up your skirt, let me make the alphabet.’
For variation there is the almost fifties style ballad Valentines, showing the sensitive side of Adam and the smooth, almost pop, of Dirty Beast- whilst Shrink is perhaps an autobiographical romp and a riot of a song, Meanwhile the proto industrial grind of the exuberant Bullshit sits neatly with the metallic KO of Hardmentoughblokes, which questions the machismo of actors.
This is quite defiantly a sex music, in the middle of the post Savile meltdown some commentators are questioning the lascivious lyrical content of the Stooges like Punkyoungirl but it’s about a crush on the 39 year old Kate Moss for fucks’ sake, whilst another stand out cut, Stay in the Game is a tough, droning reminder of the dark soul of the early Ants who existed far outside the cosy music business building their own alternative universe.
It’s rare at this stage of the game that anyone can be arsed to be as non-compromising as this let alone remember the creative power of following your own instinct.