STAND AND DELIVER: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Believe it or not, children, but once upon a time Adam And The Ants were dangerous. Once there was a time when they were incredibly good, a time when they were amazingly hip.
Baptised in the fire-storm of Punk, Adam Ant was there at Year Zero, bearing witness to the Sex Pistols' début gig at St Martin's Art School then placing himself at the eye of the hurricane by becoming a regular at Malcolm McLaren's shop, the Roxy, and the Vortex. Friend of uber Punkerella and Pistols' inner circle member, Jordan, she not only managed Adam And The Ants but sang with them also. He was even there in 1977 on board the boat that sailed up the Thames past the Houses of Parliament on Jubilee night as the Pistols played God Save The Queen.
Dressed in leathers and Seditionaries, enhanced by kilt over trousers or even sometimes a Cambridge rapist mask, Adam would throw himself around the stage in a frenzy whilst the music press looked on aghast.
Adam And The Ants had an edge that went unblunted by constant criticism and consistent attacks of slander and lies from all sections of that same music press. Undaunted, they stuck to their guns and were rewarded with total loyalty from their audience who in them, Crass and the UK Subs saw the Punk flame still burning brightly.
So what went wrong?
Unlike most of their contemporaries, Adam And The Ants failed to be signed to a major label though at first this didn't really seem like a problem. Their first break came instead from being asked by director Derek Jarman to feature in his film, Jubilee, though due to it being an art-house movie and not the kind of Punk film a lot of people hoped it would be considering the cast involved, come its release there was disappointment all round.
Adam Ant persevered, believing better management of the band would be the solution and so with this in mind he ended up paying Malcolm McLaren to take him under his wing. It was probably at this point that the problems started for after a short while McLaren simply stole Adam's band to use for his own Bow Wow Wow project with Annabella Lwin taking over vocal duties.
More determined than ever to succeed, Adam linked up with ex-Siouxsie And The Banshees guitarist Marco Pirroni, forming a song-writing partnership that would lead to Burundi beats, duel drummers, spaghetti-cowboy film twanging guitar, and the song Kings Of The Wild Frontier.
A Top Of The Pops appearance led to an explosion in popularity and from there everything changed, with the Ants appealing to a whole new audience of children and their grandmothers. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but in the process Adam neglected his original audience who had shown him so much loyalty and pandered instead to the mainstream.
"The Ants could be really good," opined Mark E Smith of The Fall at the time "If only Adam would cut out this star crap." And with that the nail was hit on the head.
It's all well and good appearing on the Cannon And Ball Show with its audience of 15 million viewers but there comes a point when integrity goes out the window and then it's all just about shifting units, no different to how Heinz goes about shifting tins of baked beans. It's all consumerism and it's all show business. Then again, there's nothing wrong with a bit of consumerism because after all, we all take part in it; just as there's nothing wrong with a bit of show business. It was just that Adam was jettisoning every last vestige of integrity for the sake of success, show business, shifting units, and little else.
Around this same time, Adam was asked what he thought of those members of his audience who were also Crass fans and he replied: "I think they're pitiful. Very sordid and very dirty, and not much to do with anarchy. I really don't want to know about it."
It wasn't as if those audience members wanted Adam to be political, however, because he was never political from the start. They just wanted to see a bit of integrity and for him not to turn his back on them after all the support they'd given him over the previous years. And they certainly didn't want to see him playing the Royal Variety Show and have him bowing down to the Queen.
"We're no longer a Punk band," said Adam "We've moved on."
Stand And Deliver, Adam Ant's autobiography, makes for an interesting read due to the description of where Adam is from and for the bits of detail strewn throughout it as he relays his story. The problem with it, however, is that it often reads as though Adam is stretched out on a psychiatrist's couch like a patient trying to put his mind in order.
We now all know that Adam has been diagnosed as being bipolar but until this diagnosis is reached near the end of the book he carries within him a tightly-bound knot of frustration and this makes for some painful reading. His frustration almost leaps from the page, sucking the reader into the same whirlpool.
At one point Adam's got the whole world at his feet, he's been dating Amanda Donahoe (and a host of other beautiful women) and he's on holiday in Barbados but still he's frustrated, depressed and worried; damning Barbados as a 'tropical hell'.
"What the fuck's the matter with me?" he keeps asking himself but whatever it is, it makes him a nightmare to work with; binning off people left, right and centre for having the temerity to suggest something to him that he doesn't go along with or for daring to disagree with him. Marco Pirroni deserves his luxury penthouse flat and wealth for sticking with Adam throughout - one of the very few collaborators of Adam's that did. Marco's obviously some sort of saint.
Adam finally suffered public humiliation and ridicule from the now infamous gun-in-the-pub incident leading to newspaper headlines such as 'Adam Ant In Mental Ward - Pop Legend Cracks Up', and for his own safety, he was sectioned.
The book ends with him years later on the road to recovery, signing copies of his autobiography in Waterstone's where to his relief he finds that he's still very much loved by his old fans. And do we all still love Adam Ant? Of course we do. How could we not?
Adam Ant was once a Punk icon who became a Pop God but just like so many before him, crashed and burned. He was like Icarus flying too close to the sun but apart from memories both good and bad, what he's left us is a catalogue of some extremely good songs. How could we not love a man who once dared to kick back at the music press with the song Press Darlings? How could we not love a man who against all odds took on the world and won? How could we not love a man who once lost his soul, his mind, and his own self but then won them all back again?
He'll never truly be forgiven for betraying his original Punk audience and for bowing down to the Queen but yes... we all still love him.