Bow Wow Wow tonight, in a session recorded for John Peel at BBC Radio 1 on October 20, 1980.
Despite being the brain child of Sex Pistols svengali Malcolm McLaren, Bow Wow Wow came about as the breakup of the original Adam and The Ants and the discovery of a Annabella Lwin, who was 14 at the time and working at a Dry Cleaners, and the result was very successful.
Infusing African rhythms, most notably those from Barundi – along with New Wave, Surf and Pop, along with the aforementioned African Drum Sound, Bow Wow Wow became an international hit and came along just in time to be heavy favorites on MTV.
This session, their first (and only) for John Peel, came around the time EMI issued their debut single, C-30 C-60 C-90 Go, which came out in July of 1980 and ahead of their cassette-only album Your Cassette Pet, which came out in November, and began to establish the band with audiences and critics alike.
I remember first hearing Bow Wow Wow around the time of their breakthrough album Go Wild In The Country in 1982 and having some reservations – not over the abilities of the band, which were considerable, but feeling that this was another one of McLaren’s manufactured bands, much like the Sex Pistols were, in a shameless bid for the Pop Music market. There was a degree of backlash in the U.S. over The Sex Pistols and how McLaren handpicked the band based on their appearances and not their ability to play. I thought the same held true, initially for Bow Wow Wow.
But I was wrong and the band emerged as a mashup of musical styles, based on African rhythms, which hadn’t been fully explored before then (at least not in the U.S.), and they wound up being highly influential as the result.
To hear this session, and so early on in their career, gave me a whole new appreciation for the band and their abilities to play engaging and enthusiastic music.
Although they have gone through several incarnations with some members dying along the way, they’ve been together since 2010 (their fourth incarnation at last count) and continue to forge ahead.
But here’s a taste of what Bow Wow Wow sounded like, almost brand new.
Crank it up and get moving.