Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Adam and the Ants [extended]

  • Kings of the Wild Frontier [Epic, 1980] B
  • Friend or Foe [Epic, 1982] B-
  • Peel Sessions [Strange Fruit, 1991] Neither

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Kings of the Wild Frontier [Epic, 1980]
This isn't rock and roll, sez here--it's "sexmusic," a/k/a "antmusic," heralding Arapaho (Apache) (Kiowa) (pirate) warrior ideals as a futuristic reaction against Brit-punk nihilism. The scam has whole subcultures working for it in England, but here it's the sex and the music that'll determine whether Adam is David Bowie or Marc Bolan (or Gary Glitter). The sex is your basic line-drawings-of-spike-heels stuff, redolent of Sex, the haberdashery once owned by Adam's ex-manager. The music, needless to say, is rock and roll, a clever pop-punk amalgam boasting two drummers, lots of chanting, and numerous B-movie hooks. Especially given Adam's art-schooled vocals, I find that the hooks grate, but that may just mean that when it comes to futuristic warriors I prefer Sandinistas. B

Adam Ant: Friend or Foe [Epic, 1982]
Telescoping into a year and a half the kind of career that used to take a decade, Adam fires his group, hires some horns, and tops off his meretricious, arrogantly bombastic flop follow-up with some ruminations on life's little ups and downs. The first surprise is that four of these are arrogantly catchy. The second surprise is that all four dwell--allusively in the title tune--on Adam's status as victim-of-the-press, a theme that was death to rock and roll in a less self-conscious age. Still has trouble with real life, though, which is probably why the rest bombs. B-

Peel Sessions [Strange Fruit, 1991] Neither