Lost in the ’90s: Adam Ant, “Manners & Physique”

lit90s

No, no, dear reader, I didn’t lose track while writing at 11pm once again and accidentally throw up a Lost in the ’80s post.  By 1990, Adam Ant was pretty much considered washed-up.  His last album, 1985′s, Vive Le Rock, sank without a ripple (despite being a fun, Tony Visconti-produced, glammy blast), and Ant was spending most of his days playing minor parts in b-movies in an attempt to cross over to Hollywood.  That’s why it was such a shock to suddenly see a new Adam Ant album on the racks as the ’90s dawned, much less one produced by Prince bassist Andre Cymone.

“Antmusic meets the Minneapolis sound!” promised the promotional sticker slapped on the longboxes of Manners & Physique, and while the contents within were a little more towards the Minneapolis/crossover funk sound that Cymone and Jody Watley made popular, Adam’s vocals and lyrics provided a little bit of Antmusic flavor.  Longtime Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni was part of the mix too, albeit so buried and watered down, one has to wonder why he bothered to show up.

Lead single “Room At The Top” (download) was a surprise hit, catching the attention of Top 40 radio programmers who sent the song into the Top 20, becoming Adam’s second Top 40 hit.  This was even more unusual since MTV pretty much shunned the video, figuring Adam to be a has-been too representative of their early days.  They gave it a few perfunctory plays here and there – I think I recall seeing it exactly once:

Adam’s new label, MCA, sought to further push Ant’s super-glossy new sound with a second single, “Rough Stuff (Single Remix).” (download) Not quite as catchy as “Room At The Top” and bordering on annoying, the single failed to chart, despite its lame attempt at ripping off the nonsense lyrical hook from Was (Not Was)’s “Walk The Dinosaur.”  And boy, did that video not age well:

You can’t say MCA didn’t do their best to promote Manners & Physique.  Despite the effort, the album failed to go gold, and no other singles charted.  Three years later Adam recorded another album for the label, Persuasion, that MCA declined to release.  It has, however, leaked to the bootleg circuit (*cough*torrent*cough*), but trust me, it’s nothing memorable.  Adam would have to wait until 1995 and a new deal with Capitol to score his next (and final) Top 40 hit with “Wonderful.”

“Room At The Top” peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #3 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in 1990.
“Rough Stuff” did not chart.

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  • jack

    “Vive Le Rock” was a REALLY good release. “Wonderful” had its moments. In the middle was “Manners & Physique,” a bland record that sounded like 85% of the other bland releases from that time period. It's like every record made in the early '90s came from the same studio, all produced by whoever produced EMF and Jesus Jones.

  • addictedtovinyl

    Wow, didn't know that Room At The Top charted that high. That was a jam. I remember seeing Ant play that one on Rick Dees' shortlived late night show Into The Night.

  • http://www.gemmastothard.kingstoncorporation.co.uk pjamarama

    the only time I got to see either room at the top or rough stuff vids is on a compilation video I bought when he released the 2 cd compilation and live cd.oh how I played it ALOT! I did buy the wonderful single though and it had some great bsides, norman was really good as i recall and one about a spider was really good too but can't remember the name.

  • JP Gillespie

    test

  • Ian

    Hey John I thinks there's a problem with Room At The Top it's only 20 seconds long.

  • JohnHughes

    Hmm…it's working for me. We may have had server issues – give it another go.

  • JohnHughes

    Hmm…it's working for me. We may have had server issues – give it another go.

  • Ian

    Hey John I thinks there's a problem with Room At The Top it's only 20 seconds long.

  • JohnHughes

    Hmm…it's working for me. We may have had server issues – give it another go.