Thursday, February 14, 2019

Song of the Day # 1,852 Bow Wow Wow

Now seriously, what's all this about? Bow Wow Wow's quite brilliant first single, if single is the right word for it, as it was the world's first ever cassette only release, (to my knowledge at least), when it first came out in July 1980. It was later re-released as a 45 on vinyl.

Bow Wow Wow were very much a 'contrived' band though not quite in the 'old' Fifties and Sixties sense. Originally musicians Dave Barbarossa, Leigh Gorman and Matthew Ashman were the Ants behind Adam until Malcolm McLaren convinced them to give him the elbow and rename themselves. In his place they eventually brought in fourteen year old Annabella Lwin, famously discovered singing along to the radio in a laundromat.

Given her age, it was all highly dubious practice, something McLaren was no stranger to, but also highly newsworthy, which attracted his interest like almost nothing else. As their opening salvo the band released this, basically a song of praise to home taping, ( although it wasn't just that ), which the music  industry was then engaged in a laughable war against. What exactly were tape cassettes, which the industry made huge profits from, for if not for this?

C-30 C-60 C-90 Go!, the lead off song, was, and remains, just wonderful! It was on the radio yesterday and it still has the power to quite stop you in your tracks. Not just for the sound of it, which first introduced the wider world to that extraordinary Burundi drums driven pop thing which Adam and the reformed Ants were also touting on their own new single Kings of the Wild Frontier and would lead them to so much chart success of their own over the next few years. But also for the guitar explosions throughout the song, Annabella's singing and the lyrics ludicrous Carry On double entendres, (blowing a policeman's whistle and repeated reference to the lead singer's bazooka) . In addition to the song there's also its promo where the three band members dance behind Annabella with beatboxes on their shoulders. The press screamed hype and they were right but it was clearly the Eighties. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and regrettably Bros came thereafter.

They, ( Bow Wow Wow that is ), turned up to their first interview with The Face's Jon Savage in Vivienne Westwood's latest clobber. In the interview they slagged Adam for ripping them off and slagged McLaren off because they could. They also insisted that they could play, something that genuinely mattered in those days. Reading the interview it was difficult to tell who was exploiting who but such was always the way with McLaren's Fagin persona. They didn't last long with him anyhow. 

The band went on to a reasonably successful pop career, made some great records, ( an under-acknowledged point ), and more controversy. Eventually Barbarossa, Gorman and Matthew Ashman  sacked Lwin, (good career move eh?), and she read about it in the NME. One thing about Bow Wow Wow, they were truly of their time. Almost forty years on band members are now embroiled in arguments about who owns the name.

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