Released today in 1984: Apollo 9

CBS A4719

CBS A4719

There have been many ups and downs in Adam Ant’s career, but the most extreme of them have been before and after the 1980s so are the concern of other writers. In 1980, his star was in the ascendant, and he had a string of seven Top 10 hits with The Ants in the space of 13 months. “There came a point when I was sitting pretty and everything I did was hunky dory and I started thinking, ‘Am I really that good? Do I really deserve all this?’,” he told Smash Hits’s Tom Hibbert in September 1984. “Then at the end of 1981, I put out Ant Rap which was very self-indulgent – a bit experimental, all drums and voices, no instruments – and when it was a hit I was totally nonplussed. I couldn’t for the life of me – I swear to you – understand why it went to #3. It was too easy; there should have been more from me. It was just nutty; I mean, there’s nothing more bland than when everybody likes something. When everybody likes you, you’re in real trouble. And I got in real trouble.”

At first he didn’t seem to be in trouble. It might have seemed to some to be a risk to drop The Ants, which is what he did went he went solo in the spring of 1982, but the hits continued: his first lone effort Goody Two Shoes was a #1. But the flow of regular singles that had kept him in the charts and in the public eye would now be interrupted by touring and the time needed to write and record new material. He was out of the UK for as much time as he was in it due mostly to two extensive American tours, the first running from November 1982 until May 1983 (it might have finished earlier but injury led to the cancellation of a series of dates that were then rescheduled for the end of the tour), and the second from January to April 1984. Between those two stints in the US, he had only one big hit back home in the UK, Puss N’ Boots, the lead single from his album Strip. He was then absent from the Top 40 for ten months: the title track from the album, its second and final single, peaked at a disappointing #41.

Adam told Hibbert about some of the other projects he had been working on since the release of the Strip album and the completion of the Strip tour, including his first acting role since the punk movie ‘Jubilee’ in the mid-70s (an indication of what would occupy his time in the second half of the 1980s), and appearing in a television commercial with Grace Jones: “They wanted to couple me up with Grace Jones so I thought, ‘These people must be pretty kosher for her to be involved in it.” The flirtatiousness between them depicted in the advert for Honda motorcycles was all for the cameras, he said: “Grace has got this massive boyfriend called Hans [Hans is Dolph Lundgren’s birth name; he was yet to make a movie at this point] who’s like a muscleman – and I come up to his knee.”

But the reason for the interview was the promotion of Adam’s new single, Apollo 9, which was “just me saying, ‘All right, fuck it! I don’t have to justify who I am. It’s 1984. I’m 29 years old. This is it! Undiluted ME! Wham bam whack!’” For the public, though, ‘wham bam whack’ it wasn’t. As the single’s title indicated, the fancy dress theme this time was astronauts, and a very cheap-looking video was filmed to help promotion of the song. But the new look didn’t have the same effect on his fans as his dandy highwayman garb, perhaps because it was more difficult to copy, and the song made little impression. Furthermore, there was no follow-up single ready and the new album (Vive Le Rock) wasn’t finished. In fact, in the 18 months from January 1984 to July 1985, Apollo 9 was his only release.

Given he was no longer as prolific as he had been, Hibbert asked him how he might feel about a lower public profile and not having so many big hits; what if Apollo 9 wasn’t a success? “It’s like putting a rocket in a bottle,” said Adam. “If it takes off, wonderful, but I also like what happens when they fall over. My definition of success is a lot different now. It’s not just having #1s and being on the front of all the papers. I’ve had a lot of that in my life and I don’t particularly want to go through it again. Duran Duran and Boy George – my nemesis – can have all that. But I’ll still give them a run for their money. I still like that sense of competition.”

NEW SINGLES on sale from Sep. 10
1982
The JAM The Bitterest Pill (Polydor POSP505)
1984
ADAM ANT Apollo 9 (CBS A4719)
David BOWIE Blue Jean (EMI America EA181)
UB40 If It Happens Again (DEP International DEP11)

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