Adam + The Ants: Prince Charming US CD 
- Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios
- Prince Charming
- 5 Guns West
- That Voodoo
- Stand And Deliver
- Mile High Club
- Ant Rap
– The Lost Hawaiians
“Prince Charming” was not been an album I have been clamoring to hear, to put it mildly. I was resistant to the much-ballyhooed charms of Adam + the Ants in the wacky days of 1980-81 and New Wave. I had read about Adam + the Ants in the press, and not always the music press. The band seemed to ride a wave of hype across the UK tabloids to roost at number one that year. As my cynical ears often did, at that tender age, I dismissed them out of hand and moved on with my young life.
By early 1981, the wave of low price new wave label samplers was moving like a freight train. Every label had one, at least. CBS records’ foray was the specious in retrospect “Exposed” double album, which had a $2.98 list price to expose the new artists from the CBS roster who were not getting any love at radio. This meant that the genres here ran the gamut from metal [Judas Priest!] to country [Roseanne Cash] with all points in between. It’s hard to believe that there was ever a time when crass junk like Loverboy would have had a hard time getting airplay but there you are. Since this was cheap, I bought it and the only fallout was that I finally heard this Adam + The Ants… and really liked what i heard. “Dog Eat Dog” was a total hit to me and I ran out and bought “Kinds Of The Wild Frontier” and really enjoyed it. It was an idiosyncratic but fun pop record with plenty of hooks and attitude. Nothing major, but certainly fun.
In the summer of 1981, the fabbo single “Stand + Deliver” was released and raced to the top of the UK charts while being shrink-wrapped to lucky, late-in-the-game buyers of “Kings Of the Wild Frontier” here in the US. I bought the single as an import 7″ and found it to be the best Adam + The Ants single ever. It was a perfect pairing of A and non-LP B-side; never bettered, really. I was primed for the next album. Until while listening to WUSF-FM and their Friday Night New Wave show in the Fall of 1981, I heard the new UK single from the band. I hated “Prince Charming.” It seemed like all four wheels had fallen off of the previously sleek Adam + the Ants chassis.
Decades later, when I found out that the song had in fact been summarily ripped off from Rolf Harris’ “War Canoe,” I wondered what would make Adam lift the entire music bed from this misbegotten novelty track. If you’ve not heard the two songs to a nunnery go and preview them online. They are one track with different lyrics. When I later heard the ghastly [or so I thought at the time] third single, “Ant Rap,” I thought “that’s it – game over!”
When the Prince Charming Review tour dragged it’s pantomime carcass through event he sleepy burg I lived in that year, it never occurred to me to go, even though it was a rare New Wave rock show in Central Florida at the tail end of the New Wave trend. I have to admit, that I relented somewhat on hearing the first solo Ant single. “Goody Two Shoes” was a return to the fun sound I knew he was capable of, but I still didn’t bite on any records. I traded in “Kings” during the Great Vinyl Purge and never replaced it with a CD.
<insert 34 year gap>
In 1993, I got the chance to see Adam Ant, now without a label, hype, or much of anything but Marco Pirroni by his side. The “Persuasion” tour of the US that year was a smoking hot show that finally, really convinced me that this guy was legitimate star material. This was a killer set, with a great, cherry-picked list of hits and deep cuts played with gusto and excitement in the intimate club atmosphere. Emboldened, I bought the “Antmusic” greatest hits set that came out that year in the UK. I bought the limited edition 2xCD version with a live disc recorded at the KROQ-FM x-mas show he played at on the tour I saw. It’s a fun live disc and the first disc has a collection of all of the Adam And hits anyone would expect right up to his late period “Manners + Physique” album. By then, I even turned the corner on “Ant Rap,” finding it a fascinating cocktail of wildly differing [undoubtedly McLaren inspired] cultural influences mashed up into a unique hybrid. But I still didn’t buy any Adam + The Ants albums. Until last month.
When I was looking at the stock at philadelphiamusic in their Discogs store, I saw “Prince Charming” on CD for $2.00. At that price, you buy it and see what you think! The album started with a fascinating bang when “Scorpios” played back. The horn-laden Latin brass explosion was enough to make Herb Alpert green with envy! The flute was particularly striking to my ears. But the next track, “Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios,” was a hookless, fussy, percussive mess. The still dreadful title cut following it pretty much killed off any enthusiasm that “Scorpios” had engendered. The rest of “side one” was poor. From the cartoony cowboy twang of “Five Guns West” to “That Voodoo,” with Adam’s gruesome vocal harmonies allied with schizophrenic pop that was unconvincing in all of its faces.
“Stand + Deliver” was still a scorcher; the essence of Antmusic distilled to its most potent brew. Adam’s “Mile High Club” shares only a name with Bow Wow Wow’s. His track has none of the tune or spirit of their much better song. “Ant Rap” was a case of Adam getting to rap ahead of Malcolm McLaren [who probably gave him the idea int he first place] and it remains a fascinating, percussive mashup of Latin parade band music, and the sound and form of early rap music from the dawn of time. After that, it ends with a whimper. “Mowhok” is faceless and “S.E.X.” remained quirky, but hookless. The album ended with a hidden bonus track appended to “S.E.X.,” the throwaway “Lost Hawaiians.”
After a single, practically teflon listening , I made a new record for ditching al album. I traded it in in the same month I had gotten it! There was just no there there, to quote Ms. Stein. The album was “Prince Charmless” to these ears. Better I should get a copy of “Kings” one day, eventually. And maybe the “Friend or Foe” and “Vive Le Rock” albums that all had interesting singles on them. A year or two back, commenter JT played me a cut from the 2013 comeback album [that I had been previously eager to hear] “Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter” and the trainwreck of a cut killed that desire pretty fast! It sounded like generic 90s alt-rock of the worst stripe! Adam has a career that rivals Duran Duran at their worst for following a triumph with a disaster, but popstars like these know how to keep fans interested with the intermittent conditioning as they dole out albums that run the gamut from successful to wildly inappropriate with mediocrity as the only taboo.
– 30 –