Vinyl Vlog 071

Vinyl Vlog 071

Friday, 17 April 2015
Vinyl Vlog

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into Adam and the Ants’ contribution to Record Store Day this year, the “Kings of the Wild Frontier” b/w “Antmusic” reissued single.

After the band’s debut album made a splach in 1979 [according to wikipedia, Dirk Wears White Sox holds the distinction of being the very first number one album on the UK Independent albums chart when the chart debuted in Record Week –ed], Adam and the Ants had their work cut out for them when it came time to record a follow-up. The band was in pretty uncharted waters; while the Ants were the kings of New Wave at the dawn of the Eighties, the genre was still very much in its infancy and was trying to function as the “more commercially palatable answer to punk rock. By then, Blondie had already released Parallel Lines and the cultural-defining single “Heart Of Glass” but, when they followed p with the meandering and “just okay” Eat To The Beat, it was clear that the band had no idea how to navigate the big time. Happily though, when Adam and the Ants just decided to wing it and make a pop album with guitars, they found the solution – Kings of the Wild Frontier was immensely popular and really did solidify a fuzzy concept. As proof, the first single from the album was a double A-side, “Kings of the Wild Frontier” b/t “Antmusic,” which is now celebrating its thrity-fifth anniversary with a Record Store Day re-pressing.

From the moment that one sinks needle into the vinyl of this single, it’s actually possible to FEEL the Eighties come rushing back as the beat of “Kings of the Wild Frontier” helps the decade march back into being. Even now – thirty-five years later – the tribal drums (which, in retrospect, seem to drive every hit the Ants ever made) effortlessly touch the pleasure center of listeners’ brains and get them to line up and follow on the undeniable power of reflex. And then there’s that vocal! Adam Ant was perfectly aware that he was on the cutting edge of youth culture and pop music at the time and simply embraces it in the lines, “A new royal family, a wild nobility/ We are the family… No method to our madness/ Just pride about our manner/ Antpeople are the warriors/ Antmusic is the banner.” This kind of call to arms could be totally expected of a band who had already enjoyed a career of successful albums but, on only their sophomore release (much like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be for Nirvana years later on Nevermind), Adam and the Ants show a brash confidence which translates to an infectious experience here.

And just to illustrate that the band actually does have an idea of what they’re doing, Adam and the Ants use several of the same elements and ideas (same beat, same vocal manner and some of the same thematic cliches) and created a second hit out of them! “Antmusic” has the same drum figures and several of the same lyrical devices, but plays as well and as satisfyingly as the A-sde did; it is the perfect representation of the Situationist mentality that so many British punks subscribed to (including John Lydon and Malcolm McLaren, notably) committed to tape, and it remains as good now as it was thirty-five years ago.

So should this single be something that those under the age of thirty-five would be advised to be on the lookout for when they’re cruising their favorite record store on Record Store Day? Some would argue the single’s relevance, but I think it would absolutely be a good buy; this single is a great time capsule of a time gone by, and and it’s cool to learn how flexible both punk and new wave used to be.


Adam and the Ants’ reissued double A-side single will be released at select independent record stores on Record Store Day, April 18, 2015. Click here for a list of locations.

Comments are closed.