In the early 80’s Adams played in various post-punk bands in London at the time of the birth of the independent record labels. His bands, such as The Impossible Dreamers, supported groups like Aswad, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and even Curtis Mayfield. He collaborated with figures such as Mark P. and Charles Hayward of This Heat, eventually joining ex PiL bassist Jah Wobble’s band Invaders of the Heart. In this band he developed a style of playing guitar which incorporated elements of Arabic and African styles with a post-punk/dub approach. Together they recorded three albums and worked with an array of great singers and players such as Natacha Atlas and Jaki Liebezeit from Can on the 1994 album “Take Me to God”.
Adams collaborated on the Real World Album “Mraya“ by Abdel Ali Slimani, and then toured and recorded with Sinead O’Connor. O’Connor’s EP Gospel Oak, produced by John Reynolds, is a product of this time. He also started to produce for other artists, notably French band Lo’Jo, whose album Mojo radio was released in 1998. A trip to Mali with Lo’jo while working on their next album “Boheme de Cristal“ was to prove seminal. Adams and Lo’Jo met Tuareg musicians from the North of Mali, a meeting which resulted in the 2000/2001 recording of Tinariwen’s debut album “The Radio Tisdas Sessions“, released on Adams’ Wayward label and the legendary first Festival of the Desert.
That first trip to Mali saw Adams buying an ngoni- a Tuareg 3 string lute, which provided the original impetus for his 2000 solo album Desert Road, described by Roots magazine as “a masterpiece”. Shortly after its release, Adams was contacted by Robert Plant, searching for a guitarist for his new band. The Strange Sensation, featuring ex-members of Portishead, Massive Attack and Cast, went on to make two Grammy-nominated albums and to tour the World. Adams returned to the Festival of the Desert with Robert Plant in 2003 the performance captured on what Charlie Gillett called “perhaps the best live album of all time“.
While Plant headed to America to work with Alison Krauss, Adams recorded three albums with Gambian master musician Juldeh Camara, recognised as landmarks in Afro- Blues, and produced what is often considered the definitive Tuareg guitar album, Tinariwen’s “Aman Iman”. He collaborated in one-off Festival performances with some of the greatest artists in Morocco, Rouicha, Hamid El Kasri and Nejet Attabou and produced and co-wrote a classic album with Algerian maverick Rachid Taha. Other productions include Terakaft and Hoba Hoba Spirit, while he recorded and performed with “dusk core” trio Les Triaboliques with Ben Mandelson and Lu Edmonds.
When Robert Plant needed to recruit another band in 2013 he invited Adams’ band Juju to form its core, adding John Baggott and Skin Tyson from the original Strange Sensation to create the Sensational Space Shifters. A phenomenal live act, they played the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury 2014, and went on to tour the world and to record two albums which made the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic.
Adams’ most recent solo album was 2018’s Ribbons, whole 2019 saw the release of his soundtrack album Burning Men. He has recently produced albums by Depp Cabaret, Sidi Bemol and Lo’Jo, and Is due to unveil a new project with Mauro Durante, the leader of Southern Italian band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, with whom he performed at WOMAD and the Proms in 2019.