Record Review: Bow Wow Wow – “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over Go Ape Crazy!” UK CD [part 1]

bow wow wow see jungle censored
Great Expectations | UK | CD | 1990 | PIP CD 013

Bow Wow Wow: See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over Go Ape Crazy! – UK – CD [1990]

  1. Jungle Boy [7″ Remix] 3:33
  2. Chihuahua (12″ Version) 5:47
  3. Sinner, Sinner, Sinner (12″ Version) 4:13
  4. Mickey Put It Down 3:01
  5. (I’m A) TV Savage 2:36
  6. Elimination Dancing 3:03
  7. Golly! Golly! Go Buddy! 2:35
  8. King Kong 2:19
  9. Go Wild In The Country (12″ Version) 5:21
  10. I Am Not A Know It All 2:52
  11. Why Are Babies So Wise? 2:53
  12. Orang-outang 2:44
  13. Hello, Hello Daddy (I’ll Sacrifice You) 4:29
  14. El Boss Dicho 2:12

It seems like only yesterday but it’s been 40 years since I first got a copy of “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!” I’d been aware of the latest manufactured controversy from the lobes of Malcolm McLaren, but in the backwaters of Central Florida, it was a little difficult to actually hear these things. The excellent “Blitz!” New Wave compilation on RCA USA [$2.98 list price] changed all of that. It had the magnificent “Chihuahua” and that was all that it took to instantly convert me on the spot. I recall being quite vocal in my ardor with chasinvictoria but he told me that head heard that the actual album was a stiff. Which was all a clever ruse to allow for gifting me with a copy. So he sent me a copy to my delight.

I thinned out a lot of records when it became apparent that I could trade record for CDs at my favorite record stores by the mid-80s. This one was a casualty, but I reasoned that one day I would be able to buy it on the silver disc at my leisure. It didn’t quite work out that way. I saw this CD once in the bins when it came out at Rock + Roll Heaven ca. 1991 and that day I demurred, citing its track listing [which we’ll get to in a minute], only to not see another copy for…

[insert 21 year gap…]

When I saw a copy of this in my first visit to Amoeba Hollywood, I grabbed it. The price was good – only $15 at the time for an out of print disc from 24 years earlier. What had stopped my hand the first time was the manner in which the reissue label, Great Expectations, had replaced four of the album;s tracks with extended and remixed versions of the four singles. The purist in my would prefer the album as originally releases, then append the remixes if there’s room on the disc [there surely was]. Neat and tidy, but given that copies of this album don’t grow on trees [there are only two CDs of this ever issued – both hard to find]I decided to buy it.

bow wow wow - jungle boy cover artThe delightful “Jungle Boy” captured the essential mojo of Bow Wow in an appealing form. The band were the original Ants as in “Adam And The…” that were poached by Malcolm McLaren to fuel his post-Pistols dreams of Situationist-inspired music industry pranking. After Adam paid him for career advice [which worked!] McLaren absconded with his band to manifest his grandiose intellectual game playing. Fortunately for us, the end result remembered to still be musically fab.

The impeccable rhythm section of David Barberossa [drums] and Leigh Gorman [bass] interlocked and syncopated for miles and miles at a time. With bass and drums on equal footing while guitarist Matthew Ashman laid the buttery, Duane Eddy-inspired guitar licks over the top. This left singer Annabella Lwin to mouth McLaren’s lyrical provocations from her teenage lips. The old ploy of an intellectual using a young girl as his mouthpiece. “Jungle Boy” seems to be an invocation to lead a tribal life after the Big One drops. It did manage to create frissons of dissonance that were thankfully not as much of a pull as the great music. The remix of “Jungle Boy” was the 7″ version, so although the mix was a little busier, with new reverb effects, it was at least the same length as the original.

I had a bigger problem with one of my bow wow wow chihuahua cover artfavorites from the album in “Chihuahua.” The fevered mix of Ennio Morricone, surf guitar licks, Gene Krupa drumming, and Balinese Monkey Chant is like nothing else out there, save for Adam + the Ants, who used the same formula that McLaren had sold to Ant before forming Bow Wow Wow. Heck, in 1981 I had never even heard of Balinese Monkey Chant! The funky bass of Gorman was immense. The vocals with Lwin holding court with the self-referential lyrics were sweetly sung and doubled up on the chorus while she was a strident warrior queen on the verses. This was a powerful song that lost something in this nearly six minute remix, with a little too much repetition for my tastes. This was an early 12″ mix with lots of vamping and looping. As a result the energy which popped on the LP mix, was a bit dissipated on this version.

bow wow wow prince of darkness cover artI had to say the same thing about the next track, “Prince Of Darkness” 12″ version. The album originally had an instrumental version of the “Prince Of Darkness” single on it, named “Sinner! Sinner! Sinner!” after the memorable chorus. Meaning that you had to buy the 7″ to get the vocals you heard on the radio! Not unlike “Back To Life” from Soul II Soul ages later! So I bought the 7″ in a poster sleeve not long after I got the album. I had heard the furiously intense cut on college radio that year, which I was immersed in. Until I got this CD, I had never heard the 12″ version of the track.

It opened with the vocal/choral chant from the guys in the band. Having the first “Sinner! Sinner! Sinner!” appear up front deprived the first break, which instead of the powerful chant had merely another bass run edited in. Followed by the male voices screaming chaotically at the halfway point…which benefited much more from appearing near the short version’s climax. The energy here was all chopped up and chaotic. With repetitive looping simply padding out a formerly short, sharp, succinct song. This was nowhere near as scorching as the 7″ version.

Next: …Normality Is Restored

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4 Responses to Record Review: Bow Wow Wow – “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over Go Ape Crazy!” UK CD [part 1]

  1. I’m not sure who censored the album cover, but it has always been a favourite — not because of the underage nude Annabella, but because it is a splendid recreation of Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. Subversive in 1862, subversive in 1982!

    This also marks the moment I began to take McLaren more seriously as an artist in is own right rather than just a lucky rabble-rouser. When you look back and see his hand in an entire fistful of bands I appreciate — Sex Pistols, The Monochrome Set (sorta), Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and The Slits — he was truly the Steve Jobs of music: incredibly foresighted but a manipulative SOB to work with.

    As for this album, if Barundi beats + Duane Eddy licks + Situationist lyrics isn’t wild enough for you. you are one jaded hepcat, Daddy-O! It’s just great stuff.


  2. Dan says:

    It’s really strange to me that a band with such a small discography can’t seem to have very deserved justice done to it (on CD, anyways). Sound is muffled on one release, songs are replaced on another, at least one song has an oddly clipped intro on yet another…this is one of those bands for whom I’m hanging on to all of my vinyl copies, as nothing has surpassed them to my ears.

    Have you by chance picked this up?

    That was released by Cherry Red, whose version of “See Jungle…” got some harsh reviews — I thought it was an improvement over the One Way, but that was an admittedly low bar. Anyways, I just received a copy of the set and am hoping to dive in over the next few days. I doubt it will be a vinyl replacer, but given how nice it is to have nearly all of BWW’s stuff in one box, I’m hoping it’s decent.

    I think I’ve seen you from time to time on the SH forums, right?


  3. Pingback: Revo Remastering: New Wave Comp – Blitz! [REVO 98] | Post-Punk Monk

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