I thought I’d go for something on the unusual side to mark the 50th edition of this particular series with a single that was, initially, released only on cassette.
Bow Wow Wow was the lastest wheeze to emerge from the thought process of Malcolm McLaren. He brought the group together in 1980, using the musical skills of Dave Barbarossa (drums), Matthew Ashman (guitar) and Leigh Gorman (bass), all previously part of Adam & The Ants (a band who were still, at this point in time, to enjoy any sort of breakthrough) to which he would add a 13-year old singer, Annabella Lwin.
For a short while, there were actually two singers, with George Alan O’Dowd coming on board, but before anything was ever recorded for release, he quit to form his own band, Culture Club, adopting the stage name of Boy George.
McLaren was king of the wind-ups, especially when it came to the media and he really did take great delight in sexualising Annabella in a way which would just now not be the least bit acceptable. He also came up with the idea and concept that Bow Wow Wow’s debut 45 should be no such thing and instead be released only on cassette.
The band signed with EMI in July 1980, with the label clearly determined not to get burned in the same way as had happened with Sex Pistols. The agreement was to release C·30 C·60 C·90 Go as McLaren wanted but given that the song’s lyrics and those of its ‘b-side’ were promoting and supporting home taping at a time when this was seen as the biggest threat to the music industry, they didn’t do much in the way of promotional support.
The cassette tape did not sell all that well, despite it being issued in a way that had both songs on one side of the tape with the other being blank to allow purchasers to indulge in their own spot of piracy should they wish. It did enter the lower reaches of the chart where it hung about for a couple of weeks before everyone involved got tired of the joke an issued a standard 7″, after which the single rocketed up the charts to #34.
It’s hard to believe the song is now 40 years of age. It’s still got that youthful, energetic feel about it and while Bow Wow Wow would later enjoy bigger and better-remembered singles, there really can be no argument that theirs was a cracking debut:-
mp3: Bow Wow Wow – C·30 C·60 C·90 Go
mp3: Bow Wow Wow – Sun, Sea and Piracy
Funnily enough, home taping did not kill music. Nor has the advent of music blogs and file sharing.