Honestly, everything you need to know about the impact this album had on me as a kid is summed up by that cover image.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know what a bogan reservation Rockingham was in the 1980s. Imagine being trapped in that environment. Imagine having the shit kicked out of you on a very regular basis by the knuckle-dragging bogan ditch-digger-to-be that surround you. Imagine not having the tools–physical or verbal– to mount any form of sustained defence, or escape. Imagine knowing, somewhere in your bones, that you simply don’t belong. Imagine not being able to pin down why you feel that way, not being able to define the artistic and creative stirrings that have yet to find voice but which will slowly and surely come to forge the path that you’ll take to claw your way out of that environment.
Then imagine this album dropping into your Christmas stocking. Imagine the first flickering of light in the back of your mind, the first moment of ‘ahhhhh!’.
Nothing sounded like Adam and the Ants. Nothing. And nothing looked like them, either. Oh, there were other new romantic bands, don’t get me wrong. But nobody with the commitment. Nobody with the elan. And just when everybody had grown used to the banderos/rancheros look and sound Adam had perfected over the preceding years, he disappeared. And returned 12 months later, looking like this.
My. Head. Exploded. So many things I could not verbalise, could barely define, sprung into focus. Later, I would encounter Bowie, and T-Rex. Madonna would rise through popular culture. I would come to love, and study, and understand film, and the way an actor can shed and inhabit skin after skin after skin. But this album– and, it should be pointed out that much of the music on it is not particularly good– was my first chameleonic moment. I caught a glimpse of something that has underpinned so much of my psychology, and certainly my art, ever since– you don’t have to be anywhere forever. You don’t have to be anyone forever.
The music has receded, but the lesson has remained, and for that– and the sense of eventual release it presaged– I will remain grateful.