MoonTunes Classic Reviews: Kings of the Wild Frontier/Adam and the Ants
Another classic review of a classic album. We take a look back at Brad Moon’s feelings on Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants, the group rumoured to be the inspiration behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. No, not really.
By Brad Moon, Contributing Writer, wired.com
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Adam and the Ants
Time for another Jeopardy question. This 80s pop icon has spent the 21st century keeping British tabloids hopping via firearms charges, assaults whilst dressed in a cowboy outfit, an arrest for throwing rocks through windows then dashing into a café and mooning the patrons, multiple psychiatric evaluations (couldn’t imagine why) and a newfound mission to save the gorilla.
No, it’s not Courtney Love- she’s more 90s and reserves her best implosions for this side of the Atlantic. Need a hint? His real name is Stuart Goddard. His band, assembled and then “stolen” by 80s musical impresario Malcolm McLaren, sold some 15 million records. Give up?
Answer: Who is Adam Ant, the preening leader of Adam and the Ants.
Adam and the Ants are remembered largely for their bizarre costumes (dandified pirate get-up featuring velvet coats, frilly shirts and leather pants combined with stylized Apache face paint, beads and headdresses), and their quirky hit single, Antmusic.
Kings of The Wild Frontier was released in 1980. The album featured thundering tribal drums made even more commanding by the band’s use of two drummers, pounding bass, extensive use of feedback, chanting choruses, Ant’s sneering vocals and numerous appearances by twangy western guitar. Take out those vocals and you’d be forgiven for mistaking some songs for Bow Wow Wow; not surprising given that McLaren whisked most of the original Ants off to form that band.
Antmusic, the album’s second track, is the hit that drove the album to no.1 virtually everywhere but the US, where it still managed no. 44 on the Billboard Top 100. Even then the Americans were probably a little more conservative than most. Ants Invasion –this is starting to feel like a branding exercise- is an ominous, sinister tune. The percussion fades into the background to allow for heavy, crunching guitar. Kings of the Wild Frontier brings those drums back to the front along with the western twang. A bit further along comes Jolly Roger, their buccaneer song and tribute to Blackbeard: “Any man who sailed with him was taking quite a chance, he’d hang them from the gallows just to see if they could dance (ha! ha!)”. The Human Beings wraps things up with a not-so-subtle aboriginal theme, a repeated chanting chorus of: “Blackfoot-pawnee-cheyenne-crow, Apache, Arapaho” set once again to western guitar riffs, thumping drums and a driving bass line.
Given the cartoonish posing and unusual themes, Kings of the Wild Frontier was a surprisingly good album. Buy the CD if you are looking for fun, artish punk/pop music you can actually dance to.