This week at Slacker we’re celebrating all things 80′s & New Wave while our Slacker countdown, the 101 Greatest New Wave Songs cranks in the background. What can we say, we’re New Wave fans! Some folks here would even argue it was the greatest period ever in the storied history of Rock music. The hair, the synthesizers, the androgynous edge, the elevation of punk ethos and pop excess straight into outer space- what’s not to love?!
So in the spirit of celebration, we’re taking a rewind/fast forward look at some stand out New Wave artists to get a sense of what exactly they’ve been up to since their New Wave peak and where they are now. Today– Bow Wow Wow!
I imagine this to be what happens at every marketing meeting on earth- a brand or product is conceived, market research is studied, the “Four P’s” are discussed… and then you hire a 13 year old Anglo-Burmese girl you found working at a laundry mat and build a band around her to really sell it. Right?
Worked for Bow Wow Wow, the British New Wave band created in 1980 by Malcolm McLaren to promote his and Vivienne Westwood’s New Romantic fashion line. In fact, McLaren’s pitch was so persuasive, he managed to poach guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and drummer David Barbarossa away from Adam And The Ants, (leaving poor Adam in a lurch to find new bugs). Once McLaren landed a lead singer in the form of 13-year-old Annabella Lwin, the master plan was complete!
However the band quickly found themselves at the center of controversies related to their album artwork and the content of some of their singles. The band was only allowed to tour outside of the UK once McLaren had assured British authorities he wouldn’t promote Lwin as a “Sex Kitten” as a result of the album cover for See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy, and EMI famously refused to promote their single “C-30 C-60 C-90 Go” because it allegedly promoted home taping as the Side B of the release was blank. Totally reasonable.
In fact, the band’s biggest hit, “I Want Candy” was the only single released from their EP The Last Of The Mohicans and barely scrapped the Top 50 at the time, but has since become an enduring New Wave classic.
Fast forward to 2014 and you’ll find Bow Wow Wow has since gathered a roster of interesting admirers including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Sofia Coppola, (who says she drew inspiration from Annabella Lwin as she crafted the style of her film Marie Antoinette), and the band Pretty Girls Make Graves, who covered “C-30 C-60 C-90 Go”. There are also two iterations of Bow Wow Wow playing today- one fronted by Annabella Lwin and the other under the guidance of bassist Leigh Gorman.
So what’s the lesson here? If you’ve got a got a New Romantic fashion line you’d like to launch- go build a band to sell it. You’ll make waves and be remembered. And puffy shirts the world over will rejoice.
Need some additional 80′s eye candy to jog the ‘ol memory? Here ya go, just remember to put Slacker’s, 101 Greatest New Wave Songs on in the background to round out the whole thing!
1. A Light In The Attic
2. Married With Children
3. Pillow People
4. Teddy Ruxpin
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
6. Donkey Kong
8. Bill & Ted
9. Slouch Socks
10. Punky Brewster
13. He-Man & She-Ra
14. Team Cyndi or Team Madonna
15. Lisa Frank