Synopsis of Pop Music
“So unplug the jukebox,
And do us all a favour,
That music's lost its taste,
So try another flavor,
When MTV came along in 1981, British bands that previously had no hope at cracking the American record market could find their way to U.S. success by putting together an eye-catching video. One of the best and most imaginative bands to pull this feat off was Adam and the Ants, a post-punk quartet who combined their catchy, drum-driven new wave sound with an eye-catching ‘nouveau pirate’ look. The group’s colorful mastermind, Adam Ant, soon went on to become an even-more-successful solo artist. Between the group and his solo career, he created a fistful of post-punk classics that remain favorites today.
Adam Ant began his life as art-school student Stuart Goddard. He became a punk rock convert in 1976 and formed the group Adam and the Ants. The group crafted a guitar-driven sound that was as glam as it was punk, and released the album Dirk Wears White Sox in 1979. When it didn’t become a smash hit, Adam turned to Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren for guidance. Although they never formed a lasting partnership, McLaren did help Adam lay the groundwork for his future success by suggesting he adopt a pirate-styled appearance. He also encouraged Adam use a big drum sound inspired by African Burundi music in his songs.
Adam took the advice to heart and formed a new version of the Ants that featured two drummers to create a powerful and rhythmic sonic attack. The new group also included guitarist Marco Pirroni, who anchored the band with his spaghetti-western guitar sound and became an important songwriting partner for Adam. The end result of the new style was the classic new-wave album Kings of the Wild Frontier. It paired up hook-filled pop tunes anchored by catchy chants with a huge, exotic drum sound to become a massive hit in the U.K. It also spawned three Top-10 singles, including “Ant Music” and “Dog Eat Dog.”
The group continued their U.K. success the next year with the Prince Charming album, which spawned two #1 hits in England with the stomping “Stand And Deliver” and the flamenco-styled title track. Adam and the Ants also parlayed their unique new-wave pirate image into a series of campy but stylish videos. These striking outings soon became staples of the then-new MTV network. The exposure offered by these videos helped pump up the sales of both Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming in the U.S. and thus paved the way for Adam’s American success.
In 1982, Adam left the Ants for a solo career and worked up a new album called Friend Or Foe with Marco Pirroni. It gave Adam his first American hit with “Goody Two Shoes,” a satirical poke at nosy tabloid reporters driven by big drum beats and horns that went to #12 in 1982. The song also boasted a clever video that depicted Adam trying to cozy up with a shapely femme reporter while ditching the rest of the tabloid press. He followed up on his new success the next year with an album called Strip. The title track, a string-driven tribute to the art of the striptease, gave Adam Ant a Top-10 hit.
Adam Ant returned to the record charts several more times during the decade with albums like Vive Le Rock and Manners & Physique. The latter album also produced a #13 single in the synth-driven dance tune “Room At The Top.” Adam Ant also began a big-screen acting career around this time that led to roles in films like Nomads, Slamdance and World Gone Wild. He made a surprise musical comeback in 1995 with Wonderful, an album that was much more mellow in style than his post-punk pop classics. It was well received, proving that plenty of pop fans around the world still enjoy a bit of ‘Ant-Music.’
Artist Release History1979 - Dirk Wears White Sox
1980 - Kings of the Wild Frontier
1981 - Prince Charming
1982 - Friend Or Foe
1983 - Strip
1985 - Vive Le Rock
1990 - Manners And Physique
1990 - Antics In The Forbidden Zone
1994 - B-Side Babies
1995 - Wonderful
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsAntics In The Forbidden Zone (Epic)
Band MembersAdam Ant vocals
Marco Pirroni guitar
Kevin Mooney bass
Terry Lee Miall drums
Chris Hughes drums