To say I’ve been going through an Adam & The Ants phase is a bit misleading — unless you consider it normal for a phase to last a quarter century-plus-change — because I’ve been one of the faithful Antpeople since 1981, when I mowed multiple lawns in a single, scorching weekend so I could purchase the Prince Charming LP hot off the record presses. It might be more accurate to say my fandom has been acting up the last few days. Which probably won’t startle anyone who has know me long enough. After all, I did pose for my high school yearbook looking like this:
Having read a pretty revealing interview with Adam and his cronies in the February issue of MOJO, I was already primed for a mini-revival. But the real catalyst didn’t strike until last Friday afternoon, when I ran into photographer Lance Mercer at a Recording Academy function. He had a vintage “Ant Music” badge tacked on to the collar of his jacket, and we immediately disappeared down the rabbit hole of nostalgia for several minutes. Next thing I know, I’m scouring Silver Platters to find the expanded reissue of Dirk Wears White Sox and leafing through yellowing issues of Smash Hits like some sort of new wave Dorian Gray.
Ahem. Anyway, over the weekend, Lance sent me a link to this performance by the Ants on “The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder,” back at the height of the Ants Invasion. You know, long before our Adam started waving starter pistols around in pubs and retrofitting old hits to “Save the Gorillas.” If I’d forgotten just what it was about the Ants that fired my adolescent imagination, this clip brought it roaring right back; if anything, the band sounds better performing “Antmusic” in this live clip than they do on Kings of the Wild Frontier.
Lance had also tipped me to a semi-recent video interview with Adam, conducted by his right hand man, Marco Pirroni, that was floating around YouTube. From Lance’s brief description, I’d hoped it centered on Adam’s favorite records by other people*, but in fact, it’s just him answering by-the-numbers questions, submitted by less imaginative fans, about his own back pages. Still, there are a couple amusing moments — and some of the vintage images, especially the shot in the gold rubber T-shirt, are priceless. This one is for diehard fans only, but hey, it’s a federal holiday — you’re probably having a slow day at work.
* When, oh when, will someone over at HearMusic wise up and start recruiting punk and new wave icons for their Artist’s Choice series of mix CDs? I’d much rather hear 20 records that influenced Debbie Harry or Jello Biafra than the roots of Sarah McLachlan.
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org.