Adam And The Ants: Stand And Deliver

TRIPLE-CD box set honours Prince Charming man.

JUST FIERY enough, just fey enough, just cod-original enough (those drums!), and certainly pop enough, Adam And The Ants were an inexplicably fine aberration in chart history. As the Eighties opened, they were big, bold and glamorous, pre-empting the New Romantics, co-opting Diana Dors, comically feisty, chronically fashion-conscious, invaluably fun. The true heirs to Bolan, the perfect, multi-coloured antidote to those nasty, earnest, spitting little men of punk rock, the band who put speed and peacocks up the arse of the burgeoning three-minute video genre – it’s possible we don’t today pay enough respect to the winning chancer Adam and his tubby musos.

Even now, their best singles (which, subversively enough, straddled the national psyche for two years), elicit a dazed, blinking response. You can’t do that, you think. Not when you’re the biggest pop group in the country. The Ants did all manner of mucky, flashy, tricky things as if they weren’t that remarkable. In retrospect, they were. They kicked whipped, posed. Above all, they preached the lesson that the millennial “scene” most sorely needs to re-learn: “Ridicule is nothing to be scared of”.

This career-covering compilation, a triple-CD box set including 68 tracks (27 previously unreleased), grabs a ride with the dandy highwayman from his failed-actor Jubilee beginnings, through the jerky Germanic S&M punk of the ‘Cartrouble’ and ‘Young Parisians (demo)’ era, to the opulent flowering when McLaren was traded in for sonic stylist Marco. The Burundi rhythms came in, Adam’s wicked, wily dress sense came out, and a peculiarly British monster was born, cheekily challenging, fervently flamboyant. ‘Ant Music’, ‘Stand And Deliver’, ‘Prince Charming’ these are kitsch singles, yes, but wonderfully involving and charismatic. ‘Killer In The Home’ and ‘Physical’ almost rock, even. The alleged “decline” boasts some stunners: the full-on ‘Ant Rap’, the lip-lickingly louche ‘Goody Two Shoes’.

Sure, then the narcissism slumped into narcolepsy. ‘Vive Le Rock’? Er, nah. But for an electric while there, Adam, handsome devil, was truly fop-tastic. This box is clever.

© Chris RobertsUncut, December 2000

Leave a Comment