|Adam Ant - ‘Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter’ (Blueblack Hussar Records)|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Tuesday, 05 February 2013 03:00|
The recently released ‘Cool Zombie’ single by Adam Ant was the first new release by the once dandy highwayman that I’d actively gone out and purchased since ‘Stand And Deliver’ back in May 1981. Having ditched my face paint not long after in place of a mullet and Hi-Tec bumper boots, I kind of kept one eye open regarding his subsequent releases through various second hand or (god forbid) taped sources, almost in a half hearted hope that one day he might once again re-ignite the flame that burned so brightly when he was writing songs about “Marco, Merrick, Terry-Lee Gary Tibbs and Yours Truly.”
That time was never to return though in spite a few half decent stabs at being a rocker once more like ‘Vive Le Rock’, and of course with Adam’s much publicised “health issues” any return to past glories would always need to get past the spitefully vindictive UK gutter press.
Then just a couple of years back something I thought I would never witness in my lifetime suddenly “happened”, initially it was just a few select word of mouth London gigs and (a subsequently cancelled) Rebellion appearance that made the URHQ Ant radar twitch, but this was immediately followed by an extensive low key set of UK shows that saw our hero back under the guise of Adam Ant & The Good The Mad & The Lovely Posse. I witnessed a truly memorable show in Cardiff on that tour and that night left me safe in the knowledge that Adam had once again found his creative spark. Not by simply reproducing his flamboyant past in cabaret style “hits, hits and more hits” fashion, like you see so oh many artists do, but more by reinventing his more formative years in an altogether more 21st century way. Something that also saw Adam evolve from the Dick Turpin of yore to the Captain Jack Sparrow type character he now inhabits. It is this transformation that perhaps best captures where Ant’s music is also at in 2013, because by shedding the skin of his hugely popular 80’s persona he can now safely step away from the pop years and indulge his songwriting in an direction perhaps more focussed towards his ‘Jubilee’/’Dirk Wears White Socks’ period.
So before you read any further into this review BEWARE; if you want another ‘Prince Charming’ or ‘Goody Two Shoes’ to sing along to this I’m afraid is not the record for you, in fact this record might seriously damage your health if you listen to it – so please stop reading now.
Okay, so for those of you who are still with me, you should by now know pretty much what to expect from ‘Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter’. We are going to be talking dark lo-fi recordings erring more towards the glam/art rock side of the street…right? Well kind of, there are flourishes of this across the 17 (yup that’s 17!!!) songs that make up this album, but by and large it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole exactly where Adam Ant is going with this record.
So is that a good or bad thing? Well, being unsafe within your chosen art form is all well and good if what you are producing is a head and shoulders above what your contemporaries are producing but I’m afraid to say this record is not.
Admittedly at times at its best as on ‘Punkyoungirl’, ‘Vince Taylor’, the aforementioned ‘Cool Zombie’ and the quite excellent ‘Stay In The Game’ it does reveal glimpses of what might have been possible in the hands of the right producer. It’s just that elsewhere it’s a bit like a directionless Syd Barrett album (or “drunk Blur” as my uber rocking amigo Gaz E called it) as on tracks like ‘Valentines’ and ‘Cradle Your Hate’. However at it’s absolute worst like on ‘Darlin’ Boy’ and ‘Sausages’ it’s just an out of tune shadow of Ant’s former glories.
It is this lack of quality control that surprises me the most about Ant’s first album in something like 18 years, I mean why release something that is so obviously under produced and in some instances poorly played that it could dent any chance of a jump back into the mainstream. Something that you have been working so hard for the best part of 3 years to achieve? Well, you know, in this quandary perhaps also lies the answer…because does Adam Ant really want that? I’d hazard a guess and say “No” because for all my negative remarks here, I cannot deny that listening to the record it does sound like Adam and his gang had a lot of fun in the process of recording it. Whether you will want to share in that fun over repeated listens is another matter.
Look in the right hands this could have made a decent EP or mini album, but as a long player of 17 tracks in length it is about 10 songs too long. Take a listen and tell me I’m wrong.
Go on I dare you.