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.



The only previous occasion that Bow Wow Wow have appeared on this blog was in April 2015 when I had this look back at their biggest hit single, Go Wild In The Country. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of positive feedback and this posting has been inspired by the comment left behind at that time by postpunkmonk:-

I am comfortable with all phases of Bow Wow Wow’s career. First of all, the former Ants were just outstanding! The rhythm section was powerful and accomplished and Matthew Ashman’s guitar tone was fluid and rich. When the band were fronts for McLaren’s philosophical japes they were visceral yet fascinating. “W.O.R.K.,” especially in its 12″ form was a powerhouse of a groove, and remains my favorite BWW tune…..

W.O.R.K. was the band’s second single, released in March 1981, when it reached #62, a bit of a disappointment given that the debut C-30, C-60, C-90, Go had reached the Top 40 and Malcolm McLaren was in full hype mode. I’ve dug out the 12″ tracks:-

mp3 : Bow Wow Wow – W.O.R.K. (No Nah! No! No! No! My Daddy Don’t)

It is incredibly energetic, driven along by frantic drumming and chanting, not forgetting the slaps applied to the bass guitar.

Fun fact….the producer on this occasion was Alan Tarney who the previous year had written and produced the ultra-smooth We Don’t Talk Anymore, a #1 hit for Cliff Richard. In later years, he would be on production duties as a-ha enjoyed a period of chart dominance in the mid 80s.

The b-side was a lingual re-working of the debut single:-

mp3 : Bow Wow Wow – C-30, C-60, C-90 Anda!

Consider yourselves educated!!!




Formed in 1980, Bow Wow Wow were a band you tended to read far more about than actually get to hear for yourself thanks to the influence that Malcolm McLaren had over them.

Having convinced himself and many others, thanks to the Great Rock’nRoll Swindle that he was the master of hype, the svengali of new wave persuaded the original Ants of Adam & The Ants to form a new group. He told them they’d be famous and rich but he had to have the responsibility of finding the perfect lead singer. Six months later, the then 13-year old Annabella Lwin, daughter of a Burmese father and an English mother, was unveiled as the singer with the claim (true as it turns out!!) that she was discovered in a dry cleaners shop in London after she head been heard singing along to tunes on the radio.

The debut single C30 C60 C90 Go followed in July 1980 and immediately caused an outcry as it actively promoted the use of home taping to save money at a time when the industry was mounting a large awareness campaign against the practice under the slogan ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music’. Despite a lack of promotional support from the record label, the single charted at #34 in the UK, although the two follow-ups stalled outside the Top 50. When McLaren then insisted that the debut LP be released only on cassette this was the last straw for EMI and they let the band go. Cue more publicity……

Within days Bow Wow Wow were signed by RCA and McLaren really went into overdrive with the campaign to gain prominence/notoriety. Word got out that Lwin, who by now was around 14 and a half years of age, would be posing nude for the covers of single and LPs. McLaren argued there was nothing perverse or pornographic about it and that the poses would be similar to famous paintings that hung in art galleries the world over. Cue outrage from the tabloid press who of course fell into McLaren’s perfectly laid trap of getting the band talked about.

Before you knew it, Lwin’s mother had made a complaint to the police that her daughter had been exploited as a minor for immoral purposes. More tabloid media frenzy……

Meanwhile, the singles continued to stall just outside the Top 50….a run that eventually came to a halt in early 1982 when Go Wild In The Country, was issued with the cover being the infamous promised nude shot of Lwin. True enough it was a replica of a famous painting, that of Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe, painted by Edourad Manet in 1863 and which was considered highly immoral at the time. Say what you like about Malcolm McLaren, but he was brilliant at this sort of thing…..

Certain stores refused to display the single on the grounds of indecency and so special plain bags, with the sleeve contained inside, were produced to overcome such problems. Whether the sales were boosted by perverts only interested in the cover we can only speculate, but in reaching #7 it was the biggest hit in the career of Bow Wow Wow.

mp3 : Bow Wow Wow – Go Wild In The Country (12 inch version)
mp3 : Bow Wow Wow – El Boss Dicho!

The band enjoyed some success throughout 1982 but tensions quickly emerged as the outside world focussed almost exclusively on Lwin and the musicians were largely seen as a mere backing band for the vocalist. By September 1983, just a month shy of her 17th birthday, she was ousted from the group who reformed under the name Chiefs Of Relief – an act that had a bit of critical acclaim but no commercial success.

The thing is…..Go Wild In The Country is a cracking bit of music and probably would have been a hit notwithstanding the furore over the cover. Yes, it has dated a bit and can be seen as very much of its time. But its got a memorable and catchy chorus and is a track brimming with energy. And I’m not alone in thinking it wonderful….why else would Mr Gedge have covered it in 1992?

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Go Wild In The Country