Like several punk bands in London during the late 70s, Bow Wow Wow were led (see “created”) by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Produced to sell Westwood’s New Romantic line, the band was composed of several Dirk Wears White Socks-era members of Adam & the Ants and the young Annabella Lwin.
See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy has to be one of the most unnecessarily long album titles ever. Their first album, Your Cassette Pet, was released on EMI, and after a falling-out the band went to RCA for their sophomore effort. The story of this album cover is now famous (and probably utterly and completely manufactured like much of Britain’s music was at the time).
Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe served as the inspiration for the cover. The painting depicts two men having a luncheon with two women: one nude and one lightly-dressed. The painting at the time was controversial and even was initially rejected by the Salon. Drawing upon that controversy, the cover of See Jungle! depicts the band in a similar outdoor setting, including a nude Annabella Lwin, who was only 15 at the time.
The cover would then go on to be featured again on their EP The Last of the Mohicans. This copy I have is the “alternative” version of See Jungle! After a Scotland Yard investigation into the photograph, the US release featured this cover – one with a clothed Lwin. What never made any sense to me was the fact that they wanted a band that was constructed to sell clothes would have the only female in the band nude, but what do I know know about the inner-workings of show business?
Idiotic controversies aside (the music never really got as much attention as the photo did), this is a pretty good album. Annabella Lwin was someone I wanted to grow up to be when I was a teenager. There was so much attitude there. She was ferocious, girly and sassy – all things I still have yet to manage to become. But the band combined surf, “jungle beats” and the chanting cries of young British youth.
I do think the band seems to be constantly over by their “I Want Candy” cover. For the most part they still remain a sort of one-hit-wonder. They’re a pretty harmless band that were much more effortlessly cool than a lot of other pop groups at the time. “I Want Candy” is a pretty obnoxious song, to be completely honest. But a lot of what is on See Jungle! is a lot better, it’s just a shame that no one seems to want to listen to it anymore. There are some great singles here like “Go Wild in the Country.”
I found this album in one of the suburban cities outside of Milwaukee (no clue which one, but they’re all essentially the same place anyway). I bought it on my last ever Record Store Day outing in 2013. My then roommate and I had been out since 7 in the morning and it was utter chaos at every record shop we went to.
On a whim, we went into a small shop. It wasn’t strictly a record shop, nor did they have any sort of sale going on but we entered any way. The place was full of old VHS tapes and other odd knick-knacks. In the middle was an arrangement of records that spanned from the obsucure to the truly awful. My roommate and I searched every bin and we both walked away with some interesting bits. This was one of them.
I always promised myself I would go back to that store, but I doubt it would still be there if I ever had the chance to visit again. It had such a strange vibe that it must be owned by a wizard and only appears on a full moon to those who are worthy.