For those of us who were around to see BWW live in the 80s, as I did in the South in 1983, this is a welcome addition to the CD catalogue of 80s music! When Malcolm McLaren started BWW, he initially cast Boy George (pre-Culture Club) to front the band in tandem with Annabella Lwin. The duet of cross-dressing George O'Dowd, and Burmese Londoner and laundrette attendant Lwin didn't make it past the first few gigs.
Boy George was tossed aside and Lwin stepped up front and center as the only girl in the band. Their mix of African drumming, heavy bass lines and highly-sexed song lyrics coupled with the "controvery" (really huge amounts of publicity) over Lwin's underage status, threw Bow Wow Wow into the international punk/New Wave music scene in a matter of months.
McLaren was not only an advocate of creative publicity, but also an early champion of what was then the 80s version of Napster, HOME TAPING on cassettes. Why should a group of friends each pay what was then some $13US for an album, when you could buy one on vinyl (this is only shortly before the advent of CDs) and swap tapes with your friends. C30,C60,C90, GO! was McLaren's paean to home taping and the bane of the record industry. He released a cassette-only collection called My Cassette Pet. Haven't seen a copy in years, so it was with great nostalgia I picked up the disc a few years ago in Atlanta. Never thought I'd see it again in any form.
Another great scheme McLaren cooked up was the EP release entitled THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS featuring a naked Lwin and the fully-clothed guys posing in the manner of Manet's "Dejeuner sur l'Herbe." I remember buying it, and thinking it was the coolest album cover I'd ever seen. The 4-song EP featured LOUIS QUATORZE, I WANT CANDY and MILE-HIGH CLUB which also showed up on another release called simply Bow Wow Wow, with Lwin body-painted all in gold (a la Goldfinger, no doubt) and wearing nothing but her mohawk. That album featured their video hit BABY, OH NO which was featured on USA Network's late-night music show Night Flight with a profile of the group. Lwin made a telling comment on the public's perception of their music when she said that most critics and listeners labeled their sound "primitive, sounds like you don't know what you're doing." Their motivation was to have a good time and make music doing it. The party didn't last much longer though...
Typical star tantrums on the part of Lwin, and general discord among the band members over Lwin's star status (reminds one of Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, doesn't it?) led to a rapid decline after just a couple full-length albums, the last of which WHEN THE GOING GET TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING was their only Stateside hit. An appearance on the TV show, Solid Gold coincided with their US tour promoting the album. Then, Lwin did a solo album or two, and the greatest hits compilations have been following ever since.
BWW is not your usual punk-rock/New Wave 80s sound. It's an acquired taste for many listeners, especially if you weren't around the first time they hit the airwaves. Still gotta love their chutzpah for their style and their music!!