Restored and salvaged from oblivion, lost era’s artifact makes a no-brainer advent.
Arguably the youngest ensemble of the original British punk generation, this bunch’s long-playing studio legacy consists solely of “The Album” that, in true nihilistic fashion, didn’t bother to chart; nor it should have, given the platter sounded like shit ricocheting from the fan – which was par for the course, of course – yet fans loved them, the London foursome’s topping the bill over BUZZCOCKS and THE DAMNED and having SEX PISTOLS engineer Dave Goodman as a producer a testament to their primal appeal. Too primal, perhaps, especially on record, because time constraints resulted in a no-frills approach, and singer Andy Blade managed to add guitar overdubs he’d envisioned when writing the band’s repertoire only post-factum, with the vinyl done and dusted. Goodman promised to use a new mix for its reprint but promptly mislaid the tapes, so the musicians would find what they planned to call “Ant” in his loft postmortem – to release 45 years down the line from the ill-fated 1977 debut.
13 numbers in 23 minutes make for invigorating listening, as Andy’s overdriven riffs and Ian Woodcock’s rumbling bass graze their songs’ pop luster and raze the melodic variety between such cuts as opener “Anne” and its successor “Space Dreaming” – that reveals the quartet’s name-snatching love for Marc Bolan whose skillfully de-glammed “Jeepster” didn’t land on “The Album” to appear here for the first time and display the teenagers’ interpretive talents – yet tunes which puncture the surface prove to be irresistible nevertheless. Bolstered by sarcastic gems “No Brains” and “Lock It Up” where Blade’s rock ‘n’ roll licks shine the freshest, the high-octane covers of “Queen Bitch” and “Waiting For The Man” struggle to stand out, though, while anthemic crowd-pleaser “I Don’t Need It” and belligerent, multilayered “Public Toys” bare the band’s “The Roxy”-tested edge. The previously unheard “Bedroom Fits” – a replacement for “Get Raped” from the LP – is enticing too, and could impress even more if not for the strength of “My Business”: the record’s hard-hitting, thickly woven finale.
It may seem a retcon approach now, but having “Ant” eventually crawl out from under the press of history feels extremely right.