Music Video of the Day: Apollo 9 by Adam Ant (1984, directed by Daniel Kleinman)

Apollo 9 is a part of what has been referred to as being Adam Ant’s “Rockers in Space” phase. Though the album on which it appeared was not one of Ant’s more commercially successful offerings, Apollo 9 was a hit in the UK.

This video was directed by Daniel Kleinman, a British commercial director who has also directed music videos for just about everyone. Kleinman has also designed the title sequence for every James Bond film since Goldeneye.


Music Video of the Day: Ant Rap by Adam and the Ants (1981, directed by Adam Ant and Mike Mansfield)

You learn something new every day.  Up until Monday, I didn’t even know this song existed but it does and it’s even got some historical importance as this was one of the earliest “rap” singles to chart in the UK.  It reached number three on the UK charts.

As for the video, what you have to remember is that it was released shortly after the success of John Boorman’s Excalibur and knight in shining armor were suddenly very popular again.  Terry English, who designed the armor in Excalibur, also designed the armor that Adam Ant wears in this video.  Why does Adam turn into a football player?  Why is the song’s co-writer, Marco Pirroni, dressed up like Liberace?  How did they get Lulu to agree to play the princess that Adam rescues from the castle?  When did Adam Ant turn into Bruce Lee?  When Adam Ant is rapping, anything can happen.  In the video’s final moments, we return to Excalibur as Adam loses his sword to a mysterious figure in the moat.

This video was filmed at Bodiam Castle, which has stood since 1385 and has been open to the public since 1921.  (It’s currently owned and operated by the National Trust.)  The video was co-directed by veteran music video director Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant, himself.


For those curious, here are the full lyrics to Ant Rap:

Put some wax on the trax and slide on onta here
Hane hane hane hane hane
Hatchets in the corner ears to the ground
Improve to the groove get down to the sound
Buttons and bows and bleu blanc rouge
All things lively must be used
Liberte, egalite, au jour d’hui see’est tres tres tres
Voici l’opportunite nous incroyables
I got the moves they got the grooves
Summoned the gods and they all approved
Bad vibes akimbo on the shelf
Bit of a rap thing going for myself
This gold on the teeth’s no sense at all
It only matters when it’s on the wall
I’m standing here with my four men
Let’s start that rapping thing again:
Marco, merrick, terry lee, gary tibbs and yours truly
In the naughty north and in the sexy south
We’re all singing I have the mouth
In the naughty north and in the sexy south
We’re all singing I have the mouth
I have the mouth
So tired of anarchists looking at me
Don’t need their credibility
“Destroy, ” they say, “defy! Condemn! “
As long as you don’t destroy them
With twenty years of drugs and drink
I thought the time had come to think
About standing up and saying that
It’s tragedy and such old hat
I’m standing here with my four men
Let’s start that rapping thing again:
(I got) marco, merrick, terry lee, gary tibbs and yours truly
In the naughty north and in the sexy south
We’re all singing I have the mouth
In the naughty north and in the sexy south
We’re all singing I have the mouth
I have the mouth
These happy feet are all we need
Summoned the gods and they all agreed
These feet won’t stop they’re in such a hurry
I knock it on the head and I go for a curry
Staying sober can be neat
Get drunk on these here happy feet
Keep on trying to pin me down
“Why a title for your sound? “
I’m standing here with my four men
Let’s do this rapping thing again:
I got marco, merrick, terry lee, gary tibbs and yours truly
In the naughty north and in the sexy south
We’re all singing I have the mouth. ..
And I have the mouth
And you have the mouth
And they got the mouth


Music Video Of The Day: Cool Zombie by Adam Ant (2012, dir by Adam Ant and Adam Ross)

So, what’s going on here?

I have to admit that my initial response to this video was to make a joke about how it was a look at a typical Thursday night at Johnny Depp’s place but I actually like this video too much to be snarky about it.  It may be an odd video but it’s a good kind of odd, I think  You have to earn the right to indulge in the surreal but I think this song and the video have done just that.

Watching this video, I get the feeling that I’m not so much looking at the end of the world as I’m looking at the day after the end of the world.  Society’s gone.  All the good clothes are gone.  You just have to wear whatever you can find.  But the music is still playing and the boats are still drifting and that’s a good thing.  It’s interesting that one thing that every post-apocalyptic vision seems to share in common is that people still desire entertainment.

Myself, I’ve already made my plans in case society collapses.  It mostly involves watching movies until the Earth plunges into the sun.  I’m thinking I’ll probably want to watch comedies.  I mean, if you know the world’s about to end, I think you would want to laugh as much as possible before the end comes.  Then again, I imagine some people would want to spend the end of the world watching movies about the end of the world just so they can brag about the irony of it all on twitter right before bursting into flame.

While the song is bluesy number about Tennessee, the title is a reference to how Adam Ant felt under the influence of his bipolar medication.  Speaking as someone who shares the struggle, Cool Zombie is the perfect way to put it.


I Want My R-TV: Spellcaster (1992, directed by Rafal Zielinski)

Give Charles Band a castle and a D-List celebrity and he’ll give you a movie!

In Spellcaster, which Band produced in 1988 but didn’t release until 1992, the castle is in Italy and there’s not one but three D-list celebrities.  British DJ Richard Blade plays Rex, who is a VJ on R-TV, a cable station that only shows music videos.  (A music station that actually plays music?  Imagine that!)  Bunty Bailey, who was the hot girl in Aha’s Take Me On video, is Cassandra, an alcoholic rock star.  Finally, Adam Ant is Signor Diablo, who owns the castle.

The plot of the movie is that R-TV is hosting a contest where the winners get to go to Diablo’s castle and not only meet Rex and Cassandra but also search for a million dollar check.  The contest winners are a snooty British woman, a sex-obsessed Italian, a sexy French woman, an overweight New Yorker, a blonde vegan, and a brother and a sister who could really use the money.  They are a collection of clichés and none of them are very interesting, sympathetic, or smart.  Not even the Italian notices that their host is named Mr. Devil.

The search for the money is a bust because the guests keep dying.  For instance, the overweight New Yorker eats a stuffed pig, turns into a pig himself, and then gets shot by the snooty British woman, who just happened to bring a rifle with her because all snooty Brits enjoy hunting.  Another person ends up getting eaten by a chair that has a lion’s head carved into it.  When the lion comes to life and chomps down its jaws, the teeth are obviously foam rubber.  It all has to do with Signor Diablo’s crystal ball, where he’s building a collection of souls.

With the casting Adam Ant and Bunty Bailey, Spellcaster tried to be a horror movie for the MTV generation but it came out several years too late.  By the time Spellcaster was released, grunge had taken over MTV and both Adam Ant and the Take Me On video seemed like relics from another age.  The film itself is a mostly dull affair, one that will be best appreciated by people who are nostalgic for the type of bad movies that used to show up on late night cable.

Music Video of the Day: Prince Charming by Adam & The Ants (1981, dir. Mike Mansfield & Adam Ant)

From the book, I Want My MTV:

Steven Levy, writing in Rolling Stone, unfavorably compared “superficial, easy-to-swallow” acts such as Adam Ant to Bob Dylan.

You’d think having discovered Einstein’s brain in 1978 would have made him more open-minded. No really, he did. It’s worth reading his story about it.

He said some other things concerning MTV, which included quoting Dr. Thomas Radecki about the dangers of music videos. You might remember him as the guy who attacked the music video for Street Of Dreams by Rainbow because of the brainwashing psychiatrist, among other things. The guy who said people were killing themselves and others over D&D. He had his medical license revoked in 1992 because of conduct with a patient. More recently he was caught in a opiates scandal. Probably not the best source in hindsight.

Perhaps that’s why there is only one article on Rolling Stone’s website by Levy. Or they just thought the one on Steve Jobs was the only one worth putting up online.

He has gone on to do better things after the 80s–along with doing good things back then as well. He appears to have lightened up on his condemnation of MTV as early as 1992.

I just thought I’d include that since I find it hilarious to think that anyone ever thought up the idea to compare Adam Ant, or any similar act, to Bob Dylan. I don’t care if the context was commercialism using Adam Ant’s persona as a way of contrasting someone known for lyrics with someone known for their look in order to say that marketing had won out over the songs themselves. The comparison still makes me laugh.

So here’s a video that seems to imply that the Adam Ant persona is a combination of Clint Eastwood…

Alice Cooper…

Rudolph Valentino…

and Douglas Fairbanks (also Adam Ant’s character from the video for Stand And Deliver).

We get Diana Dors showing up as his fairy godmother, backed up by some guys who a year later would wear even less clothes for It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls.

Back to I Want My MTV:

Adam Ant: My strategy for making videos was sex, subversion, style, and humor.

I’d say he accomplished that here. I particularly like that we don’t get the typical ending of Cinderella. The change appears to be permanent–from someone who is pushed around and shy to someone that is confident being themselves. We never see him pair up with anyone. He stands alone because the point isn’t to find love based on shoe size. It’s finding yourself when you take out what other people think of you from the equation.

The video is listed as being directed by both Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant. Mansfield did a bunch of late-70s and early-80s music videos.

Stephanie Gluck, or Stephanie Coleman as it is on Wikipedia, was the one responsible for the Prince Charming dance. Wikipedia says that the dance was arranged to mean Pride, Courage, Humour, and Flair (in that order).

There’s an archive of a fan site that that has some additional information. I can’t confirm enough of it, so I just included the link. However, it is interesting to note that both it, and Wikipedia state that one of the characters that Adam Ant plays is Vito Corleone. That isn’t in here. I guess that was removed for some reason.

Adam Ant and Rolf Harris came to an arrangement over money because of the similarities between Harris’ song, War Canoe, and Prince Charming. I can hear it, but then again, you can listen to the Canoe Song, where Adam Ant says they both drew inspiration from, and hear the same similarities. They’re just not as strong. I can understand why they would come to an agreement over it.

Finally, after the way I began this post, I think it’s worth looking at these quotes–two from Levy in a 1992 New York Times article and one from Adam Ant in I Want My MTV:

Levy: We’ve all gotten used to the junkification of America life — to the fact that you can now eat McDonald’s and that 50 years from now, we may even be nostalgic about it.

Levy: They’ve also gotten more critical of, and more of a sense of humor about, themselves.

Adam Ant: In its initial form, video was a revolution. Then MTV became worse than the record companies, and that’s fucking saying something. It became very decadent, like ancient Rome in a way. It was all about who you knew, and how many bottles of champagne you sent them. It began as a tough, groundbreaking, sexy, subversive, stylish thing with a sense of humor. Then it became all business.

The two of them only differ in age by 3 years, so we’re not talking about a generation gap.


Music Video of the Day: Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant (1982, dir. Mike Mansfield & Adam Ant)

It’s my birthday today so I chose to spotlight Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant. Among other ties to the song, I too am a goody two shoes. It also happens to fall in line with the last two music videos I did as something that is so much fun to sing along to while you watch it.

One of the most interesting things to me about this video is the use of repeated actions throughout it. It matches the lyrics and title, but it also fits with theories I have read for why temporal overlaps exist in early films. They say that perhaps it wasn’t a mistake, but a double your pleasure, double your fun thing. I know I enjoy seeing Adam dive across the table, then multiple times across the bed with actor Caroline Munro lying in it.

Munro has been in numerous things, but is probably best known for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Of course all things are connected, so it turns out actor and music video director Daniel Kleinman who is this video also happened to direct the music video for Sheryl Crow’s song for the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) made two decades later.

We also get a cameo from the Jailhouse Rock (1957) set and a clever use of a mirror, which doubles the image. The Jailhouse Rock set can also double as a copy of every set used in an early cinema film called Peeping Tom that was remade endless times. The butler even turns out to be a peeping tom. We also get an iris shot of Adam that is repeated with the shot through the keyhole near the end.

There’s a bunch of interesting stuff going on in this video.

Since it is my birthday, let’s amp it up, and triple our fun with two more performances/music videos for Goody Two Shoes.

Enjoy all three!