Who: Adam & the Ants
What: Kings of the Wild Frontier tour
When: Jan. 29, 2017
Where: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON
Long-time readers know I was born and grew up until my very early teenage years in the UK (we are not the self-described “Trill OG Blog” for nothing!) One of the first music acts I got into back then was Adam & the Ants, a new wave/punk act that drew from glam, British musical theatre and folklore, African Burundi drumming and other elements, some of which might be considered dubious or non-PC in today’s era, to create a singular persona and sound that dominated the UK pop charts around the turn of the 80’s. Truth be told though my sister, staff photog for The Kitchen and the auteur behind the shot above was the true fan but we were both excited when we heard we’d be given an opportunity to go see the Toronto date on Adam’s Kings of the Wild Frontier tour where he was set to play his hit 1980 album in full including some songs that had never been performed live on stage before.
Upon arriving at DMH we learned the show was seated, not my preference as, even though we were there in a professional capacity, we fully intended on jumping around and dancing like loons in anticipation of hearing part of the soundtrack to our youth being recreated live on stage. Openers, Glam Skanks, an all-female, 70s-inspired, ‘glitter-rock’ band were fine if you are young or uncool enough that you have never heard of The Runaways (a iconic proto punk/glam, female rock band if either of those things apply to you) before, but what can I say, we were really there for the main attraction.
And luckily, when he finally hit the stage, Adam did not disappoint! (Well other than I was holding out, hope upon hope, that his legendary band mate and songwriting partner, Marco Pirroni would be in the house on stage too, but alas it was not to be…) Besides that minor quibble though, Adam looked fantastic. He’s still rocking his trademark period costuming which, in hindsight, has been an obvious influence on Johnny Depp’s Captain jack Sparrow look. Second he’s in amazing shape, maybe even better than during his 80’s prime. He didn’t move a ton on stage but he also looked far from being a tired old man which some of these punk/new wave era acts can often be. He also didn’t talk much in between songs (other than in the middle of the show when he dedicated the performance to his guitarist and musical director, Tom Edwards, who has passed away just a few days before the date in Toronto)
Hearing Kings of the Wild Frontier live in sequence in this setting was amazing. The best songs from the album have lost none of their kick, freshness or urgency and Adam performs them like they’re brand new songs and not almost 40 years old. He also blessed fans with a few highlights from his career post-Kings including a cool cover of T-Rex/Marc Bolan‘s “Get It On” although sue me if I wanted to hear “Ant Rap” and “Deutscher Girls” too! All in all though, it was a great show and I can’t imagine many true fans left at the end of the show unsatisfied.
Dog Eat Dog
Feed Me To The Lions
Killer In The Home
Kings Of The Wild Frontier
The Magnificent Five
Don’t Be Square
The Human Beings
Beat My Guest
Stand And Deliver
Vive Le Rock
Desperate But Not Serious
Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)
Goody Two Shoes
Get It On
Spotify listeners, check out the Kings of the Wild Frontier album below. Tidal listeners, go HERE.
Just like last year, picking our Top 10 favorite albums for my Village Voice ̶P̶a̶z̶z̶ ̶&̶ ̶J̶o̶p̶ Music Critic’s Poll ballot this year was tough! 2016 was yet another especially good year for music overall and quality full length albums specifically. Many of the ‘Honorable Mentions’ below were more than worthy contenders for a spot on my Top 10 (actually Top 12, I added Maxwell and I think my stupid ass actually forgot to include Childish Gambino‘s throwback funk-rock-inspired opus, Awaken, My Love! on my ballot so I had to make amends here on the blog).
I don’t have that much to say about the individual albums here except:
– Vets and newbies alike put in work! A Tribe Called Quest dropped a masterpiece/tribute to their late member, Phife Dawg that should’ve been a coda on the joke-cum-nightmare that was the Donald Trump presidential campaign but instead became a balm for our souls as we contemplated what it meant for him to, instead of becoming a footnote in history, actually be taking office as commander-in-chief and ‘leader’ of the free world. Sibling act to Tribe in the Native Tongues, De La Soul, as they always do, rewrote the playbook for making hip-hop and proved veteran MC’s can still drop impeccable wordplay while their original producer and mentor, Prince Paul, showed he still had the same innovative, fun and inventive spirit in his music as he ever did with his latest Latin/world music-meets-hip-hop album project, Brookzill with Digable Planets‘ Ladybug Mecca, Don Newkirk and Rodrigo Brandão. Meanwhile underground stalwarts like Dave East, Torae, Stalley and long-time Kitchen favorite Mickey Factz (with acclaimed producer, Nottz) all dropped excellent projects that garnered varying degrees of buzz.
– R&B/Soul kicked ASS this past year! Solange ended up towering above them all for my money although the Beyhive would probably be up in arms that I’m not according her sister that accolade for LEMONADE (for the record I loved that project more as a short film visual than as an album but I wouldn’t fight anyone who disagrees with my take on it). For most of the year before, Anderson .Paak‘s Malibu and A Seat at the Table were released, I thought ANTI was going to be my album of the year and it still amazes me how many wouldn’t give it a chance just because it was made by Rihanna. Be clear: ANTI is an alternative pop-soul tour de force that would be getting universally heralded if it had been made by Solange, SZA, FKA Twigs or some other boho black girl beloved by indie/alternative media types and not pop’s resident, gives no f-cks, bad girl (Riri). She gets love in those quarters too but not quite so across-the-board. And, speaking of beloved by indie/alternative media type artists, while it didn’t blow me away like Channel Orange or as much it did other people, Frank Ocean‘s Blonde was further proof that he is one of the most creative talents in music, period. If you liked your R&B a little bit more down the middle of the traditional road (or as traditional as it gets in 2016) though, albums by Maxwell, new jack Maxwell heir apparent, Gallant, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Tweet, in a very welcome comeback after a looong hiatus, were all well worth your time. That last album, Tweet’s Charlene was so criminally overlooked, it almost hurt my heart.
– Toronto and Canada represented! Albums by Drake, The Weeknd, TOBi, Roy Woods, Daniel Caesar, Dvsn, Clairmont the Second, Kaytranada, LAL, River Tiber, Harrison, SATE, Tona Tencreddi, Zeds Dead, A Tribe Called Red and many others I didn’t even include on my list, confirm we now have the best urban/Black music scene in the world, no discussion!
So all that said, here’s the list:
FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2016:
Top Albums (in no particular order):
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Rihanna – ANTI
Solange – A Seat at the Table
Best of the Rest:
J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only
De La Soul – and the Anonymous Nobody
Dave East – Kairi Chanel
The Game – 1992
Maxwell – BlackSUMMERS’night
Stalley – Saving Yusuf
Tweet – Charlene
A Tribe Called Red – We Are the Halluci Nation
Beyonce – LEMONADE
Blitz the Ambassador – Diasporadical
Brookzill – Throwback to the Future
Daniel Caesar – Pilgrim’s Paradise (note: rel. Nov. 2015)
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book
Clairmont the Second– Quest For Milk And Honey
Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Consequence – A Good Comeback Story
Domingo – Generation Next
Drake – VIEWS
Dvsn – Sept. 5th
Gallant – Ology
Harrison – Checkpoint Titanium
Kaytranada – 99.9%
Alicia Keys – Here
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
LAL – Find Safety
John Legend – Darkness and Light
Mickey Factz & Nottz – The Achievement: Circa ’82
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
River Tiber – Indigo
Royce 5’9” – Tabernacle: Trust the Shooter EP
SATE – Red, Black & Blue
TOBi – FYi EP
Tona Tencreddi – The Ivy League
Torae – Entitled
The Weeknd – Starboy
Roy Woods – Waking at Dawn
ZEDS DEAD – Northern Lights
If you missed any of these during the past year, you really should consider giving them your time and attention now. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll dig. Did I miss or overlook any albums you think should have been mentioned here? Let us know in the comments or Tweet / Facebook us.
Previously on The Kitchen:
DIFFERENT KITCHEN’S FAVORITE SONGS OF 2016
Similarly to how it went down for 2015, this year’s list of The Kitchen‘s favorite songs or singles is pretty much what I picked for my Village Voice
Pazz N Jop Music Critics Poll ballot.
Unlike last year though, I didn’t really have a true, standout favorite song this year. While I definitely really loved Young M.A‘s “OOOUUU”, if I absolutely had to pick a favorite song, I’d have to go with YG‘s “FDT” (“F-ck Donald Trump” ICUOENO) featuring Nipsey Hussle instead for what should be obvious reasons.
While we’re on the subject of “FDT”, the standout music trend for us was the fact that 2016 was a year marked by the very welcome return of great Black protest music inspired, on the plus side, by The Black Lives Matter movement and, on the negative side, by the ongoing state-sanctioned police violence against Black bodies that led to the formation of the BLM movement in the first place and the outrageous, racist, sexist, nativist, xenophobic and Islamophobic presidential campaign conducted by Donald Trump. They say troubled times creates or inspire great art and 2016 certainly proved the point. Songs like Vic Mensa‘s angry but powerfully moving “16 Shots” or Common‘s brilliantly eloquent “Letter to the Free” gave me goosebumps or stilled my heart every time I played them. Even Macklemore‘s contentious “White Privilege II” (that clunky middle section was way too heavy on the self-congratulatory promotion and others have issue with the entire song itself, I do not though) had a part to play in the dialogue. This is one time though that I wish that troubled times-great art adage were not the case. I’ll take Black lives saved over Black art protesting those lives lost, any day.
For those who wanna chirp off about why there’s no “Broccoli”, “Black Beatles”, Beyonce etc. on the list, keep in mind this is our favorite singles, not the ‘top’ or ‘best’ ones, regardless of how those terms are defined or used. No disrespect to the aforementioned songs, I like them and probably any other ‘noteworthy’ songs for the year you might throw out for consideration fine, they just weren’t our personal faves or, believe it or not, I might have just plain missed them no matter how big a hit they may have been last year. So take that in, stay mad or kick rocks and go check another year-end list elsewhere. Anyway, here go…
FAVORITE SONGS OF 2016:
01. YG – FDT feat. Nipsey Hussle
02. Black Thought – Making A Murderer feat. Styles P
03. Danny Brown – Really Doe feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt
04. J. Cole – False Prophets
05. Common – Letter to the Free feat. Bilal
06. Desiigner – Panda
07. Drake – One Dance feat. Wizkid & Kyla
08. Vic Mensa – 16 Shots
09. Nas & Erykah Badu – This Bitter Land
10. The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming feat. Daft Punk
11. Young M.A – OOOUUU
Chance The Rapper – No Problem feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne
Denzel Curry – Knotty Head feat. Rick Ross
Dubb Santora – Money Came feat. 2Cz
Lil Uzi Vert – Do What I Want
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – White Privilege II
NxWorries (Anderson Paak & Knxwledge) – Lyk Dis
Radiohead – SPECTRE
Tona – Red Eye feat. Fixaveli
Usher – No Limit feat. Young Thug
Yo Gotti – Down in the DM
(note: links in the song titles go to posts on The Kitchen blog about the songs, the artist or the full lengths they are from. Soundcloud playlist above or alternatively, here’s a playlist of these songs on TIDAL also.)
Previously on The Kitchen:
Well it’s finally here: the This One Goes To Eleven… 11th Anniversary compilation album for Different Kitchen! It’s been a three to four month journey putting this project together but it came together in a really great way and I’m super happy & proud of the sound of it and how it turned out in the end.
I’ve spent 11 years doing this blog, at some points spending more time on it than others but this is one of the things in my life that I get to do that really reflects who I am, my musical & aesthetic tastes and how I see the world without regard for what is cool, will sell or drive online traffic or what I should be doing from a career or personal life point of view.
All of the artists on the album are ones I really dig, personally and I have backed that up by supporting their music and careers on the blog. I’m glad that they all came through and supported this project with their art. Props go out to The Names Are Known, King Reign & Saukrates, Keita Juma, Brendan Philip, Noah Vinson & Isis Ash, Joel. & Arthur Lewis, J.Nolan, Jai Nitai Lotus & Sam I Am Montolla, Audego, Emay, Third Mind, 416 Band and Mickey Factz.
Also a big thanks goes out to Exclaim! magazine, the top music media outlet in Canada, who came on board as a media partner and co-premiered the album on their site HERE.
Tired of streaming the album and want to play it in iTunes, on your mp3 player or go ‘old school’ and burn a CD copy for the whip? Download the entire This One Goes To Eleven… album complete with art HERE: mediafire (zip file)
Marketing by CoolerBuzz
Audio mastering by Neil McDonald and Paul Kehayas for Echosound Studiolab
Art by Tiffany Pilgrim for Tiffany Pilgrim Art Direction & Graphic Design
Promo Art by Shehab Tariq for Implant Media
Viral video production by Ian Jones for the ear2much collective
Media Partner: Exclaim!
(For songwriting & production credits, click/see the back cover art above or to the album link on Soundcloud HERE to check each song’s credits individually)