10 Best Adam Ant Songs
Adam Ant was not only one of the biggest pop stars of the early 1980s; he was the force behind one of rock 'n' roll's most interesting bands. Adam & the Ants made some of the most unique music of the era. With nods to rock's illustrious past, film scores and bubblegum pop, the Ants were also able to integrate sounds and styles of other cultures, (and not in the pretentious NPR way), including Burundi-style drums and tribal chanting. Adam is still going strong and recently issued the highly entertaining 'Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter,' his first album in 17 years. For no reason other than the fact he's still kicking ass, we thought it time for this list of the 10 Best Adam Ant Songs.
With his 1982 LP 'Friend Or Foe,' Adam Ant not only went solo and dropped the Ants, but he also made drastic alterations to what had become the "Adam Ant" sound. 'Desperate But Not Serious' makes it clear: This is a different side of Antmusic. The triumphant blast of horns signal the change, as the song slowly slips into a driving, moody groove. More driven by bass than by drums, the song has an irresistible quality to it.
With the tribal drums rolling on in, the killer is indeed in the home. One of the many highlights on the 1980 album 'Kings Of the Wild Frontier,' No. 9 on our list of the 10 Best Adam Ant Songs is a slow builder. Adam tells a tale born of paranoia while the rolling drums and guitar feedback set the tone. Just as you think it's over, the song's climax turns explosive.
The subtle strum of an acoustic guitar in no way prepares the ears for the onslaught of synchronized shouts and screams that, in turn, in no way prepare for the sprightly pop song dead ahead. With its message of individuality, Adam rightly declares that "ridicule is nothing to be scared of." Forsaking the tribal drum attack of the previous album, the Ants go for a slightly more sparse sound here, as all the elements have room to breathe. A real beauty!
By 1985, Adam Ant had fallen from the pedestal of fame somewhat, so in an attempt to reinvent himself, he pulled a looking-backward-to-look-forward move. Enlisting producer extraordinaire Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex, etc), Adam gravitates toward a stripped-down '50s rock 'n' roll sound, giving it a contemporary futuristic sheen. Imagine Eddie Cochran meets Marc Bolan in 1980s sci-fi. Well, sort of. Whatever you want to call it, it worked. Perhaps not in sales, but the album was an artistic triumph full of great songs.
Issued as a single B-side in the U.K. but included on the U.S. version of 'Kings...,' 'Physical (You're So)' is a big Ant fan favorite. It finds Adam in gritty rock mode. The sleazy raunch of Marco Pirroni's guitars and the forceful attack of the rhythm section provide the perfect setting for Adam to get down and dirty. Random bursts of feedback haunt the song and add to the tension, while Pirroni's chaotic guitar solo is raw perfection. Later covered by Nine Inch Nails, this is Adam & the Ants at their rawest.
The galloping drums and shimmering glam-affected guitars ring out as Ant sings of auto, and other, frustrations. "Keep your feet off the upholstry Ronnie!" The song has a certain bubblegum quality to it, and that's bubblegum of the Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Company variety, only put through the Antmusic machine. Classic pop all the way.
Probably the most fierce and piercing rocker Ant & Co. ever dished out. The guitars are brutal, the vocals snotty and in your face. This non-album track originally appeared as the b-side to the 'Stand And Deliver' single. The shrill notes Adam hits at song's end are wondrous, and the song manages to combine the raw punky side of the Ant sound with the tribal aspects, and the two styles work together perfectly. As for the lyrics ... well, we'll let Adam explain: "Well use a truncheon or a cricket bat, a good beatings really where it's at."
The opening number from the landmark 1980 album 'Kings Of the Wild Frontier,' 'Dog Eat Dog,' third on our list of the 10 Best Adam Ant Songs, set the tone for not only the album, but for the Ants invasion about to happen. Mixing elements of 1970s glam (in both style and sound), Burundi drums, Ennio Morricone spaghetti western guitars and and over-the-top flair and attitude, Adam & the Ants offered a truly new sound for a new decade. Instantly recognizable and unforgettable. Where is the warrior without his pride?!
Here we have what is probably Adam & the Ants signature song and mission statement. "Unplug the jukebox and do us all a favor, that music's lost it's taste so try another flavor" Ant commands, and given the dynamic and catchy tune, how could one resist? Unlike anything else making the rounds at the time, 'Antmusic' was (and actually still is) utterly unique. Sure, it contains elements from pop music's past, but they are all mixed up into one fabulously tasty new flavor.
A call to arms from Adam & the Ants, 'Stand And Deliver,' No. 1 on our list of the 10 Best Adam Ant Songs, was the first single released the band released after achieving fame and fortune. They had made their name and stated their case with 'Kings Of The Wild Frontier,' and now, they were stars. 'Stand and Deliver' is full of as much self assured swagger as anyone could muster. This is where everything about the Ants sound totally gelled. The pop, the glam, the Burundi, the tribal, the chaos: It's all here in giant technicolor sound.