[Review] Adam and the Ants: Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980)

Antmusic for sex people and sexmusic for ant people!

Kronomyth 2.0: Pirates, cowboys and Indians.

Snigger if you want, but I swallowed the whole punk pirate thing Captain Hook, line and sinker. There’s even a photo of me with a white stripe across my face lying around here somewhere, and I have dressed like a pirate on at least two non-consecutive occasions. All of this, I lay squarely at the feet of Kings of the Wild Frontier, which was in constant rotation on my stereo system as a teen. Strangely, I never outgrew it. These songs feel as fresh and vital today as the first day I heard them. And while I now realize that antmusic is not our future, I’d be up for any parallel universe where it was.

For me, Adam and the Ants and not AC/DC had the biggest balls of them all. I mean, who else would place all their chips on antmusic, doubling down on the double drums, tuneful chanting, punk guitars, stylish braggadocio and an unhealthy obsession with pirates, cowboys and Indians that literally screams out arrested development? In the middle of it all was Adam Ant, the eternal man-child, peter panning to the crowds with a sense of fashion and outrage. Dog Eat Dog, Antmusic, The Magnificent Five, and Don’t Be Square (Be There) were anthems for the ants invasion. London calling? Hmph, tell them to leave a message.

I’m not saying, of course, that Adam and The Ants were better than The Clash. They weren’t. But Kings of the Wild Frontier ended up on my turntable a lot more often than my Clash albums (except The Clash). Now, maybe you draw a division between bands like The Clash or XTC and Adam and the Ants, but I don’t. They were, all of them, brilliant pioneers who made sugar-coated punk music. Is there really much of a difference between “The Right Profile” and Los Rancheros or “This Is Pop” and The Human Beings? To my ears, they’re all cut from the same cloth of gold.

It was easy to get caught up with what Adam Ant looked like… until you listened to him. After that, it was the music, and not the clothes, that made the man. Marco Pirroni also deserves a ton of credit for writing some really great songs and for suffering along with the makeup and costumes. With time, style got the better hand of substance, but none of what followed can detract from the fact that this and their next album, Prince Charming, are nearly perfect examples of the punk-pop movement.

Original elpee version

A1. Dog Eat Dog
A2. ‘Antmusic’
A3. Feed Me to the Lions
A4. Los Rancheros
A5. Ants Invasion
A6. Killer in the Home
B1. Kings of the Wild Frontier
B2. The Magnificent Five
B3. Don’t Be Square (Be There)
B4. Jolly Roger
B5. Making History
B6. The Human Beings

Original elpee version (US)
A1. Dog Eat Dog (3:07)
A2. ‘Antmusic’ (3:36)
A4. Los Rancheros (3:28)
A3. Feed Me to the Lions (2:59)
A5. Press Darlings (Adam Ant) (4:12)
A6. Ants Invasion (3:20)
A7. Killer in the Home (4:19)
B1. Kings of the Wild Frontier (3:53)
B2. The Magnificent Five (3:05)
B3. Don’t Be Square (Be There) (3:29)
B4. Jolly Roger (2:09)
B5. Physical (You’re So) (Adam Ant) (4:26)
B6. The Human Beings (4:24)

All songs written by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni unless noted.

Remastered elpee/compact disc bonus tracks (UK)
13. Antmusic (alternative mix)
14. Antmusic (demo)
15. Feed Me to the Lions (demo)
16. The Human Beings (demo)
17. S.E.X. (demo)
18. Omelette from Outer Space (demo)

The Players

Adam Ant, Merrick (Chris Hughes) (drums), Terry Lee Miall (drums), Kevin Mooney, Marco Pirroni. Produced by Chris Hughes; engineered by Hugh Jones.

The Pictures

Sleeve concept by Jules and Adam Ant. Graphic design by Jules. Photography by Ashworth.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on November 7, 1980 in the UK, Italy and the Netherlands (CBS, CBS/40-84549), Australia (CBS, SBP 237586/PC 7586) and Japan (Epic, 25.3P-281) and in February 1981* in the US (Epic, NJE/JET 37033) with catalog (uk) and lyrics innersleeve. Reached #1 on the UK charts and #44 on the US charts. (*First appeared in 2/7/81 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Epic, EK 37033).
  2. Re-released on expanded, remastered elpee and compact disc in 2004 in the UK (Sony) with 6 bonus tracks.

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