In 1979, a disillusioned Adam Ant handed over £1,000 to Sex Pistols Svengali Malcolm McLaren for advice on how to become a pop star. On the one hand McLaren offered some ideas about pirates, Native American imagery and African rhythms. On the other, he persuaded Adams musically brilliant Ants to dump their leader and team up with a 14 year old Burmese beauty he’d discovered in a West Hampstead launderette. After schooling them in the same native chic and Burundi tribal drums and making the renamed Annabella Lwin sing his surreal lyrics about sex, primitivism, piracy and home taping while taking her clothes off, he launched them as Bow Wow Wow on an unsuspecting new pop world.
Incredibly, while all of this is true, the forgotten truth about Bow Wow Wow is that they were genuinely extraordinary. Against a magnificent backdrop of tumbling rhythms, a popping funk bass, spaghetti western guitar, wild chants and joyous choruses they were the perfect epitome of new pops sugared pill strategy; McLarens lyrics full of far sighted prophesies celebrating the absence of work, going back to nature, the growing rejection of fathers as necessary parents and how the rise of portable technology would make music omnipresent in people’s lives but much less important.
And yet, despite their visionary call of the wild, Annabella’s jailbait charisma and some of the most astonishing rhythms ever recorded by an English group, in the grim and gloomy early eighties, they were always considered far too clever for their own good, and because of Annabella’s age, far too sleazy, their witty, captivating, pop masterpiece See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! failing to even dent the top 20.
In the end, hidden within the electro pop and pretty boy schlock of the times Bow Wow Wow did manage to achieve their own stunning, sonic identity and a middling kind of success, but that could only have been depressing to a man like McLaren who had always regarded music, especially pop, as a lesser art form. By the time they scored a Top Ten UK hit with ‘I Want Candy’ (an exciting but vacuous remake of a sixties bubblegum tune) he was long gone and they were well on their way to becoming just another eighties, new wave, pop group heading for obscurity.
01. C30, C60, C90 Go! (Single A Side July 1980)
02. Sun, Sea And Piracy (Single B Side July 1980)
03. Gold He Said (Your Cassette Pet Cassette November 1980)
04. Uomo Sex Al Apache (Your Cassette Pet Cassette November 1980)
05. I Want My Baby On Mars (Your Cassette Pet Cassette November 1980)
06. Sexy Eiffel Towers (Your Cassette Pet Cassette November 1980)
07. Radio G String (Your Cassette Pet Cassette November 1980)
08. W.O.R.K. (Single A Side March 1981)
09. Prince Of Darkness (Sinner Sinner) (Single A Side July 1981)
10. Chihuahua (Single A Side October 1981)
11. Jungle Boy (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
12. Mickey Put It Down (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
13. (I’m A) TV Savage (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
14. Elimination Dancing (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
15. Go Wild In The Country (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
16. Hello, Hello Daddy (I’ll Sacrifice You) (See Jungle! LP October 1981)
17. I Want Candy (Single A Side May 1982)
18. Cowboy (Single B Side May 1982)
19. Teenage Queen (Teenage Queen Japanese EP June 1982)
20. Louis Quatorze (Single A Side July 1982)
21. Do You Wanna Hold Me? (Single A Side February 1983)
22. Roustabout (When The Going Gets Tough LP February 1983)
23. Rikki Dee (When The Going Gets Tough LP February 1983)
24. Love, Peace And Harmony (When The Going Gets Tough LP February 1983)