Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bow Wow Wow

  • Your Cassette Pet [EMI, 1980] B+
  • See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy [RCA Victor, 1981] B+
  • The Last of the Mohicans [RCA Victor EP, 1982] B
  • I Want Candy [RCA Victor, 1982] B-
  • Twelve Original Recordings [EMI, 1982] E
  • When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going [RCA Victor, 1983] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Your Cassette Pet [EMI, 1980]
Only two great songs on this eight-selection shorty--all the rest is Antmusic. It's certainly true, though, that Adam's old backup boys display a lot more verve and cheek and high good humor than the new ones. Not only that, "Sexy Eiffel Towers" and the sly, loving, brazen "Louis Quatorze" almost justify Malcolm McLaren's dubious project of inventing a sex life for his fourteen-year-old Galatea. B+

See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy [RCA Victor, 1981]
You don't play Afrobeats with a surf band's chops--what makes real African music captivating is a tonal range so subtle it creates little hooks among the polyrhythms. Yet a lot of this transcends its own klutziness. M. McLaren's propagandistic conceits are so outrageous they're comical, especially in a little samba called "Hello, Hello Daddy (I'll Sacrifice You)" ("Eat the heart of my kith and kin!/That's what I'm interested in!"). And the good-legged adolescent grace and vivacity of the wondrous Annabella touch my heart every time she opens her mouth. B+

The Last of the Mohicans [RCA Victor EP, 1982]
This Kenny Laguna-produced attempt to convince the record company that Annabella is Joan Jett opens with a cover of the Strangeloves' "I Want Candy" that isn't as pointless as one might wish--Annabella being female, the oral metaphors instantly evoke toffee-on-a-stick, and don't think Malc doesn't know it. There's also the nubile "Louis Quatorze," remade in what would be record time for anybody but Malc. And three more sexual fantasies, the most outrageous (and sexiest) of which concerns a consensual gang bang. Unfortunately, Annabella's Debbie Harry impression on that one doesn't convince me she's of age. B

I Want Candy [RCA Victor, 1982]
Ever the creative marketer, Malcolm McLaren bestows upon the world a compilation comprising the dubious if sexy Last of the Mohicans, a throwaway instrumental, and four cuts--good, though not top-notch--from the band's still estimable debut LP for this label. Which is preferred unless you don't own "Louis Quatorze" in one of its proliferating versions, and maybe even if you do. B-

Twelve Original Recordings [EMI, 1982]
Ever the creative marketer, Malcolm McLaren sticks the purportedly never-to-be-vinylized Your Cassette Pet together with almost everything else his latest victims recorded for EMI. Docked the max for lying. E

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going [RCA Victor, 1983]
Mike Chapman adds few if any hooks and Annabella Lwin shockingly little verve to their pattering Afrobeats. None of Malcolm McLaren's pubescent sex fantasies was half as dumb or exploitative as "Aphrodisiac." And though I'm glad they're expressing themselves, only the glorious "Rikki Dee" ("I work at the WC") tells me any teenage news I hadn't guessed. C+