Monday, 2 February 2009

1981 Adam & The Ants: Stand And Deliver

From the burned out vestiges of a second rate punk band, Stuart Goddard reinvented himself as 'Adam Ant' in body and mind before taking the whole 'ant' persona as literal interpretation and running with it all the way to the bank with a series of singles and albums that celebrated image over substance and gave the eighties its first true icon. 'Stand and Deliver' was their first number one, but they had previous in the form of four top ten singles the previous twelve months.

Looking back, each of the 'Ant' singles was a self contained manifesto that set out what they were about and what they were going to do. Taking the Gary Glitter glam rock two drummers approach, but playing in a Burundi style, Adam rapped about his 'Antmusic' and how to live the good life. In this at least, 'Stand and Deliver' is no exception;
"I'm the dandy highwayman who you're too scared to mention I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention". By this time though, a far more buffed sound replaced the thin white tunes of the 'Kings Of The Wild Frontier' era, and hearing 'Stand and Deliver' for the first time was akin to the moment in 'The Wizard Of Oz' where the film stock switches from black and white to colour.

From the opening horn salute, 'Stand and Deliver' gallops along like the horse Adam rides in its accompanying video, where his self knowing flirting with the camera walked a fine line between danger and camp. That he pulled off superbly swelled his fanbase considerably, making this a single that both the punked up lads and heart struck girls (and vice versa) would be happy to be seen buying. (The video also features a glammed up Marco Pironni as the least convincing band bloke in make up since Steve Priest of The Sweet. Unlike Steve, he doesn't look like he's much enjoying himself to compensate).

Song, video, image - the whole thing can be seen is a self contained package and, lyrically, Adam is again grandstanding as to why he's so much cooler than everyone else and how wonderful it is to be young, while the band play catch up with some gloriously chunky, fuzzy guitar and tribal chants/Indian whoops and yelps that intersperse the frantic drumming, building to an unstoppable crescendo of whoops and
"Da diddley qa qa da diddley qa qa's" that build like a latter day Lisa Lashes hardcore house workout. Like all the best pop songs, 'Stand and Deliver''s longevity wasn't built on the need be taken seriously; the whole thing is shot through with a playful verve that would gradually, sadly disappear from Ant's future output. In a few short months the white stripe would be gone. Next it would be the band. After that the hits then the career and, with nothing left to lose, he would lose himself too, leaving this as a gleaming, immovable testament.

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