The inspiration was not from Nag Nag Nag but the fact that listening to Sensoria reminded me of The Art of Noise which bizarrely made me think of this Top 10 hit from 1982:-

mp3 : Malcolm McLaren and The World’s Famous Supreme Team – Buffalo Gals

Here’s the story as told elsewhere on t’internet:-

“Buffalo Gals” is a traditional song that dates back to the 1800s, where it was often played at minstrel shows. The “Buffalo” refers to the city of Buffalo, New York, but the lyrics were altered to fit the place where the song was performed. McLaren changed the refrain from “Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight” to “Buffalo gals, around the outside.”

McLaren was the manager of The Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, leading them to the forefront of the British Punk scene. Ever the opportunist, when McLaren heard rap music emerging from the US, he capitalized on the opportunity and released this song, which featured McLaren calling lyrics in a Square Dance style.

This was credited to “Malcolm McLaren And The World’s Famous Supreme Team.” In the 1984 BBC documentary Beat This! – A Hip Hop History, McLaren explains that he was in New York looking for a support act for Bow Wow Wow when he went to an outdoor concert (known as a “Block Party”) by Afrika Bambaataa and Zulu Nation. This is where he was exposed to Hip-Hop for the first time and discovered the scratching technique he would use on this song.

In the liner notes for the LP Duck Rock, McLaren wrote that this track was “recorded with the World’s Famous Supreme Team and Zulu singers backing them up with the words “she’s looking like a hobo.” The performance by the Supreme Team may require some explaining but suffice to say they are DJs from New York City who have developed a technique using record players like instruments, replacing the power chord of the guitar by the needle of a gramophone, moving it manually backwards and forwards across the surface of a record. We call it scratching.”#

This song was groundbreaking because it helped introduce the UK to Hip-Hop culture. Not only did it sound like Hip-Hop (but with a white, British MC), but the video showed breakdancing (courtesy of the Rock Steady Crew) as well as rapping, scratching and graffiti.

It was really the input of Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley that made this bit of music work.  The following year they formed The Art of Noise and when I first heard that group’s music I was immediately reminded of what had been done in tandem with Malcolm McLaren. OK, it has dated somewhat and sounds way more gimmicky than it did back in the day, but there was no denying that it was different and that it did act as a gentle introduction to hip-hop for millions of folk living a long way away from its spiritual home.

The b-side of the 7″might well have influenced Kevin Rowland a little bit:-

mp3 : Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals (Trad Square)



  1. That’s uncanny – just put Buffalo Gals on very loudly in an effort to get two teenagers to hurry up getting ready for school this morning!

  2. Good tune. I had the Walk The Body mix of Something’s Jumping In Your Shirt on yesterday which also sounds a bit dated but was great at the time.

  3. I dabbled in Malcolm McLaren records back in the day but today? I just snatch them up when i see them. I just got the US “D’Ya Like Scratchin'” EP [different to the UK version] but have yet to spin it. I used to think that Malc couldn’t be trusted, and that’s what made me initially hesitant about his “recording career” but today I just admit the quality of his ideas… and he certainly knew that for him to “make” records, he needed the right players. Jeff Beck and Bootsy Collins on the same album? No problem! His were the most interesting Trevor Horn productions, that’s for certain.

  4. Always had a soft spot for madam butterfly even with MMs bizarre american accent.

  5. Absolutely LOVE this single and the album it belongs to. The mix of genres is amazing, especially when you think it was the mid-eighties.

  6. I was listening to this recently too. Strange syncronicity. I also found myself slipping into it in front of a 6th form lesson the other day. Embarrassing for everyone.

  7. There is a lot to be said for the mixing of music and art on McLaren’s debut. It’s an album that really does reflect the term conceptual. This would go on to be MM’s modus operandi for some time with mixed results. I’m with FORW on Madame Butterfly and the album Fans and Waltz Darling beat Madonna to the punch in mining the Voguing/House scene for inspiration, but Paris was a patchy affair.

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