Happy Wednesday, folks! I’ve been turning the pages of Simon Reynolds’ whip-smart Rip It Up and Start Again, and his chapter on Malcolm McLaren, Adam Ant, and Bow Wow Wow is quite smart, and plumbs the depths of McLaren’s depravity and the acuity of his foresight.
Adam and the Ants were his key musical venture of the time, but since Stuart Goddard — perhaps the best given name of any popstar who adopted a stage name — wouldn’t rest comfortably under McLaren’s thumb, he was soon “Ant-less,” but it didn’t slow down his swashbuckling and his Ennio Morricone-inspired sound with plenty of Burundi beats. (Goddard had rubbed elbows with McLaren earlier, in November 1975, when the Pistols opened for his band Bazooka Joe.)
Here’s Adam’s favorite track of his, the opening tune from 1980’s Kings of the Wild Frontier, “Dog Eat Dog,” done (ahem) “live”:
And, for those of you not rushing off to work this morning, here’s a link to “Adam Ant–Stand & Deliver,” the documentary.
Happy Sunday, folks! One of the real joys of writing about The Clash is catching up with the great characters who played key roles in their success back in the day. Yesterday I had a delightful conversation with Howie Klein, former head of 415 Records out of SF circa ’79, when The Clash first made it to the west coast, and eventual head of Reprise Records. (He’s a political blogger now @ http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/.) It’s possible, I suppose, if I had written about KISS, for example, people in KISS-de-camp might now be just as generous with their time, but I’d like to think The Clash’s politics (and aesthetics)–and Strummer’s delight in talking with all sorts of folks deep into the night–has something to do with my comrades’ generosity of time and spirit.
Speaking of KISS: Gene Simmons is making a splash these days with his “rock is dead” pronouncement in Esquire. Simmons is good businessman, probably always has been, and he’s after something big here, which I hope is not lost in the “poptimistic” backlash: back in the day, musicians with label support could hone their craft in no small part because they didn’t need day jobs. They had oodles of free time. They wrote songs, and neither tweets nor blogs–which are both cool, don’t get me wrong, but the structures of time and days, then and now, are remarkably different. This moment is still unfolding, so it’s perhaps too early to proclaim death and all–but things have certainly shifted, and it might not be premature to mourn the loss of yearning in fandom.
I wish I had seen this brilliant piece by Simon Reynolds a few years back, as I would have cited it in the afterword of Stealing, where I make a similar argument about analog fandom. Reynolds’ requiem for the British music weeklies during the punk and new wave years is equal parts eloquent and forceful, and absolutely right on regarding anticipation and pleasure back in the day. As that so-called hero of new wave (!) Tom Petty noted, “the waiting is the hardest part”–and yet the consummation of literary and musical desire was ever so sweet. A long-form journalism piece worthy of an extended period of your attention.
Have a delightful week!