“Prince Charming” by Adam and The Ants - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1981Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

Citing personal conflict and creative differences, bassist Kevin Mooney left the Ants early in 1981 and was replaced by ex-Vibrators player Gary Tibbs, who left his position as a touring session man with Roxy Music. It's easy to remember the line-up on the third Ants long-player; “Marco, Merrick, Terry Lee, Gary Tibbs and yours truly”. “Ant Rap” (the album's third single) had some use! They remained a 2-drummer 5-piece: Adam Ant (vocals, bass, harmonica), Marco Pirroni (guitar), Chris 'Merrick' Hughes (drums, producer), Terry Lee Miall (drums) and Gary Tibbs (bass). Moving quickly along from his 1980 stint as tribal warrior, the fashion-conscious frontman unveiled his new “dandy highwayman” image in April, 1981, via the release of the “Stand And Deliver” single which gave them their first UK #1, selling one million copies in Britain alone. The challenge to smarten up your wardrobe and your record collection was laid down: “We're the dandy highwaymen, And here's our invitation, Throw your safety overboard, And join our insect nation!” Emulating that success, the spectacular follow-up “Prince Charming”, with its musical base in an old Maori war song, was an encouragement to shine: “Don't you ever lower yourself, forgetting all your standards… Respect yourself and all of those around you… Ridicule is nothing to be scared of”. Seems this dandy highwayman feller has values.

Those two singles did all the hard work for the long-player which arrived in November, 1981, and rose to #2 in the album charts. The sense of vitality is immediately apparent on the album opener “Scorpios” which continues the positive theme of the recent “Prince Charming” single: “Be pretty, look young be fearless, like the Scorpion… And if by chance you cling to hate, Just rest assured it's your mistake”. The message is delivered upon a sensational bed of latin rhythms and a big, bold, brassy section delivered by Richard Myhill, giving the piece a widescreen, cinematic feel. This places the Ants in new territories and makes for a super-exciting starter. The opening zap-bang-pow is followed brilliantly by “Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios” which flirts between Spanish-flavoured power-pop and last years burundi beats to great effect, a whole lot of human-as-animal yelping adding to the surrealism. The twangs the thang on “Five Guns West” as Marco re-imagines that old spaghetti western vibe, whilst “That Voodoo!” closes side one excellently, somehow managing to marry dub reggae with old Ants punk, mariachi horns and the recurring sexual theme: “a thrill a day keeps the chill away, love like a dagger and a sound like a wimoweh”.

So unique was the sound of the Ants in 1980/81 that they weren't a comfortable fit with any genre, but if “Kings Of The Wild Frontier” reimagined post-punk possibilities then “Prince Charming” did likewise in the new-romantic era. Bizarrely, the album was critically dismissed as a pop lightweight as opposed to a trail blazer full of vitality but, for me, it wandered a musical path which was new, fresh and completely unique. In every which way I look at it, “Prince Charming” is a third straight triumph for Adam's group, signed, sealed and delivered so differently each time in '79, '80 and '81. Staggering artistry.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:46] 9.8.png Adam and The Ants - Scorpios (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) Cerebral Pop
A2 [03:28] 9.4.png Adam and The Ants - Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
A3 [03:18] 9.8.png Adam and The Ants - Prince Charming (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
A4 [05:02] 8.4.png Adam and The Ants - Five Guns West (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A5 [04:18] 8.9.png Adam and The Ants - That Voodo! (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
B1 [03:35] 9.5.png Adam and The Ants - Stand And Deliver (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
B2 [02:42] 8.4.png Adam and The Ants - Mile High Club (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
B3 [03:26] 6.6.png Adam and The Ants - Ant Rap (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) Hip Hop / Rap
B4 [03:28] 8.6.png Adam and The Ants - Mowhok (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) New Wave
B5 [03:50] 7.7.png Adam and The Ants - S.E.X. (Stuart Goddard, Marco Pirroni) Songwriter

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