Album #41: Adam & the Ants — “Kings of the Wild Frontier” (1980)
As the saying goes, the golden age of science fiction is 12.
Others peg 14 as the ‘magic age‘ when your cultural tastes are formed, many of which will last a lifetime. If this is the case, there are two friends from that time I have to thank, for good or for ill, for providing the two halves of my pop music mold.
Rick Caldwell showed me there was far more to Queen than “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and lent us his many Led Zeppelin albums, as well as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and anything else with a Frank Frazetta painting on the cover. On the other side was Monty Link, who covered all things punk and new wave — The Cars, The Clash, The Sex Pistols (it was Monty, the consummate Preacher’s Kid, who would show up at church Youth Fellowship weekends spitting out “I am an antichrist!/I am an anarchist!”) — and eventually the pounding drums of Adam and the Ants. In fact, I found it very hard to return the copy of “Kings of the Wild Frontier” I’d borrowed from Monty, but not before it’s ‘Burundi Beat’ was forever burned into my skull:
While Adam Ant’s glam-pirate shtick and overly-sexed posturing eventually grew thin, there was still something intoxicating about his early theatrics. And those drums! (It would be decades before I was aware of the controversy over the drums of the Burundi Beat, a sound lifted without attribution from tribal recordings in Africa. As pointed out on this segment of Sound Opinions, in an interview with those African tribesman years after their music was cribbed by several bands, they declared they hated what Adam and the Ants had done with the sound — but thought Bow Wow Wow‘s take was great.)
Still, this was then, and back then it was those drums, and songs like “Dog Eat Dog” and “Feed Me to Lions,” that connected with a buffeted and awkward adolescent trying to orient himself and navigate the halls of high school where Foreigner, Styx and Rush ruled.