Record Review: Adam Ant – Apollo 9

CBS ‎| UK | 7″ | 1984 | A 4719

Adam Ant: Apollo 9 UK 7″ [1984]

  1. Apollo 9 [Blast Off Mix] 3:24
  2. B-Side Baby 4:47

When Adam disbanded The Ants and went solo in 1982 he still had a strong grip on the UK top 10. Two of the three singles from the “Friend Or Foe” album had no trouble going top ten [“Goody Two Shoes” was number one, of course] but the best of the three, “Desperate Not Serious” only made it to a lowly #33.  The next year brought the “Strip” album and two singles produced by… Phil Collins? Wha…? The obnoxious “Puss ‘N Boots” scraped into the top ten, but the title single missed the top 40 altogether. Clearly, some trimming of the Adam Ant sails were necessary.

I remember when the video for “Apollo 9” popped up in 1984. It seemed that Adam had been to multiple viewings of “The Right Stuff” as it was all NASA inspired themes for the single and video. The A-side was a remix of the album track and it’s all I’ve ever heard to this day. I’ve not heard any Adam Ant albums past “Prince Charming,” which lasted a brief time in the Record Cell just recently. That time out, Ant secured the production of Mr. Tony Visconti who had helmed iconic albums by both T-Rex and David Bowie. This all but assured that Ant would make a play for his talents.

When listening to the Blast Off Mix of the single, it’s apparent that it’s 1984 as drum machines and synths predominated. The Burundi rhythms that had served Adam well were executed on machine that time, giving the resulting record a mid-80s club-ready stiffness that stood apart from the more traditional Ant sound. The robust guitars of Marco Pirroni, who was still Adam’s right hand man even then, were seriously mixed down in favor of acoustics. When Marco’s rip-roaring solo arrived at 1:09, it lasted for only 2 bars!

The mix here favored vocals at the expense of band power, but with machines in charge, maybe that was a good thing. As for Adam, he was his usual daft self, constructing daffy meta-pop from a Marc Bolan framework. I feel that gut level sound mattered most to this guy. Lyrics were there to fill the emotional gaps in the backing track. Who else would have the verve to throw “yabba dabba ding ding” into a chorus but one who strove only for effect and feel over actual content. This was pop, after all.

As was often the case, Adam made sure to include a non-LP B-side to his latest single. This time out, it was a paean  to the very idea of B-sides, albeit couched in a framework hostile to both his girlfriend playing the B-side records as well as Joey Ramone [?]. Adam started out the track by introducing his band, one by one, as the music began and got cranking. As opposed to the nothing-left-to-chance, programmed-within-an-inch-of-its-life A-side, the vibe here sounded very live and raw, with Marco’s guitar getting fully unleashed to engage in what could be hair metal in the wrong hands. It all sounded vibrant and great, because the Ant-penned number came within an inch of “20th Century Boy.” I could only wonder what producer Visconti thought about this… let’s call it a homage.

Overall, a surprise left turn from Adam Ant that telegraphed his dwindling audience going forward. This would be followed by an artistically triumphant [but commercially failed] followup single from the “Viva Le Rock” album which followed this single by the better part of a year. More about that one, later.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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