Archive for May, 2012

Soldiers Of Destruction – Hope And Anchor Islington / Moonlight Club Hampstead – 1984

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Hope And Anchor Islington performance

Moonlight Club Hampstead performance

Way back in August 2010 I was handed a photograph album and two cassette tapes by Simon Rix at his house in Homerton, Hackney. I digitalised the cassette tapes, scanned all the photographs in and promptly returned them safely to Simon. The material lent to me by Simon once belonged to Mark ‘Shark’ the guitarist of Soldiers Of Destruction. Shark sadly died and Simon who had been a good friend ended up with the photograph album and the cassette tapes.

Originally back in August 2010 I had sent feelers to various folk who might help me write up a small biography of Soldiers Of Destruction. Unfortunately I heard nothing back and throughout the time that passed I forgot all about the audio material on my hard drive. I had already uploaded Sharks collection of very personal photographs onto the KYPP photo archive in August 2010 but it has come to this date in 2012 for me to place up the audio that came alongside that artifact.

The audio is recorded from the audience but is of a very clear quality. I do not know who was responsible with recording it.  I do not know the track listing (although both performances seem easily guessable) and also; I am not even sure that I have placed the correct audio onto the correct links. I digitalised both the cassette tapes so long ago that I have actually forgotten which recording was Hope and Anchor and which recording was Moonlight Club. I have basically guessed; hopefully correctly.

If not please let me know. This may be a long shot as the chances of anyone remembering small details on the specific nights that make up these two cassette tapes from three decades ago must be pretty slim.

Soldiers Of Destruction seemed to have passed under my radar at the time of the bands existence from 1982 so I know next to nothing about them. John mentioned the Petherton Road squat and Sgt Heresy (Sniper) in a comment on an old KYPP post but other than that there is a blank. There is also nothing on the internet that I could find to bolster this post.

If anyone would like to add anything relevant either about the history of Soldiers Of Destruction or the life of ‘Shark’ then please let me know and I will add the text to this post with of course a credit. I am aware of the Soldiers Of Destruction T shirt on the Peter And The Test Tube Babies ‘Pissed And Proud’ LP on No Future records.

It would be good to get Soldiers Of Destruction represented with a decent biography from someone who knew them, or even better, a decent biography from one of the surviving members who was in the band.

STOP PRESS – I HAVE NOW RECIEVED SOME TEXT FROM THREE FINE INDIVIDUALS THAT I CAN USE FOR THIS POST – ANY MORE TEXT IS WELCOMED OF COURSE – THANK YOU SO FAR TO BONGO, SIMON RIX AND MORAT FOR ALL THE INFORMATION SUPPLIED.

Billy ‘Bongo’ the original bass player for Soldiers Of Destruction

In 1981 I placed an advert in the NME for musicians to form a band. After eventually meeting Mark (Shark) we formed Soldiers Of Destruction. We wrote around seven songs together in a squat in Brixton. Carlos joined the band and then Morat joined us a little later on. Morat got recruited by Lynn, our manager, after a one man stage invasion at a Chelsea gig at the Marquee where he screamed the lyrics for ‘No Fun’. We started to write more material and practice together. Our first performance was downstairs at Carlos’s restaurant in Shepherds Bush. Morat had only been in the band for a little over a fortnight at this point.

(Collection of Morat) Bigger text HERE

The following week we somehow got a review of that debut gig in the weekly music paper Sounds. The review had a great picture of Morat as the centre of the piece. The journalist (or the paper) made the mistake of printing Mark’s name underneath the photograph. Morats big moment in the media was somewhat quashed by having the name of the guitarist underneath his picture! We had some interest from the management of the Anti Nowhere League, a band we shortly toured with. Soldiers Of Destruction even played the huge and very elegant Lyceum Ballroom with the UK Subs along with The Meteors and Peter And The Test Tube Babies. Fun times indeed. R.I.P Mark.

Billy ‘Bongo’

Shark and Simon Rix at Hyde Park

Soldiers… Mark Rennie, guitar, Morat, vocals, Paul Thwaites, bass and Carlos on drums are the line-up I remember. I think that Paul was not always the bass player but that’s the mob who I witnessed doing the gigs.

Mark had come down from Banffshire in the late seventies when he’d run away from local authority care. Already into the punk rock scene, he ended up around the King’s Road where he was introduced to both smack and the rich trendies who’d colonised it. As a reaction, he eschewed fashion and dressed in shite describing it as ‘tramp punk’, a look which caught on, Mark was one of the first “crusties”, though he’d curse me for saying that.

As the scene coalesced around the Islington squats, Skunx and the suchlike, the band met and started playing. They were straight down the line working class street punk, avoiding politics and viewing Crass as splitters of the movement. While singing the usual complaints of police oppression, celebrating the riots and going for the anti-society shock value of “cheated”, there was a morality there which was distinctly humanist.

Soldiers became managed by the owner of a local shop, Preposterous Presents on Upper St in Islington where Lynn worked. More gigs were arranged, some showcase performances at Gossips and a lot of support slots at places like the 100 Club, Klub Foot, and the Lyceum with the usual contenders at the time like GBH, Peter And The Test Tube Babies etc. The band got on famously with the Test Tubes Babies, hence the T Shirt’s appearance on their album cover.

Stan, the manager, arranged for badges, stickers and t shirts to be manufactured. These got around because the designs were quite popular, the design of the dolly hanging on a safety pin appeared around on many walls and jackets. The band produced some highly entertaining flyers which were handed around at gigs, highlighting certain songs or commenting on stuff that was happening. Not many were still doing that then, except Crass.

(Collection of Morat)

Attempts to make demos and maybe a record faltered though. Mark claimed he resisted it because “we weren’t good enough”, but compare with some of the drivel that came of some indie presses at the time, I think he was wrong. There may have been something of ‘to be an enigma’ in it.

Why did the band stop playing? Well, a couple of narks with each other and a bit of general un-togetherness. There were a lot of drugs, by that time prescriptions for pills and codeine in some cases, not all.

I’ve no idea what happened to Carlos. Morat, last I saw of him in this country, he had got into bikes and psychedelic Hells Angel stuff, but is now residing in LA and is a burlesque and rock photographer. Paul was stabbed to death by my side in a row over a squat in Morningside Estate, Hackney, in 1986. He was a good friend and I will forever both regret and appreciate that this happened because he was backing me up when my squat was under attack. A couple of inches either way it would have been both of us cold. Mark died of an HIV related illness in 1995. He never managed to throw off his monkey on his back, but he’d completed a degree in Classics as an adult learner, having had no education since childhood. When I asked him what he was going to do with it now he had letters after his name, he said “nothing”, and that’s what he did do. Classic.

Simon Rix

(Collection of Morat)

I had been in two bands before joining Soldiers Of Destruction. They were both ‘covers bands’ and I never really took it seriously. The first band was The Legislators in 1978 and we only played one gig. I was too young to get in the clubs so I don’t know what they were doing letting me on stage!

(Collection of Morat)

The second band was Thin Red Line who had Razzle later of Hanoi Rocks on drums. We opened for the Damned at a show in 1979, but we only did a few other gigs and again the set was all cover versions.

Soldiers Of Destruction started sometime in 1981. I don’t think they’d been around very long before I joined, but they told me they’d tried out a bunch of different singers prior to me joining the band.

I was seen ‘singing’ along to Chelsea at a gig they were performing in London and a message got through to me that I was ‘wanted’ as a singer in Soldiers Of Destruction. I think I was probably the best of a bad bunch! I knew Shark vaguely after buying speed off him at the Christmas On Earth gig in Leeds. He had a big bag of blues down his trousers. Three for a pound!

I’d only been in the band a week or so when we played the first gig at the pizza place in Shepherds Bush and I have no idea how we got that review in Sounds. It was mildly annoying that they got my name wrong on the piece, but only because I kept getting called Mark, literally for years afterwards. Mark was Sharks real name. To be honest the review and being in the paper didn’t seem to mean that much to us, although I do remember Gene October being all butt hurt about it and saying something on stage when Chelsea played in Brixton the following week…!

Lynn who originally saw me onstage at the Chelsea gig and who got word to me about joining the band, worked down Upper Street in a shop called Preposterous Presents. It was just a joke shop in Islington that sold novelty crap. The owner was a nice enough bloke but he liked to think of himself as some sort of Malcolm McLaren type even though his shop wasn’t a hangout for punks at all. I suppose he reflected Malcolm by not putting any money into the band. He paid for a photographer to come down to rehearsals once, but I only ever saw a few of the pictures and we never had any line up shots done. To be fair though, the punk scene was falling apart by the time he got involved and it was difficult to get any gigs.

Soldiers Of Destruction only ever played one show outside London, which was on the Isle Of Wight with GBH and the Test Tubes. Rick (who later went on to become our drummer) travelled down to the Isle Of Wight show with a few mates just to see Soldiers Of Destruction and I remember being blown away by that.

I preferred any shows were the crowd got into it and some of the best that I can still remember were opening for GBH and The Exploited. I didn’t really care what size the gig was so long as people jumped about.

We did attempt some gigs up north somewhere but we got to the first venue and it had burned down the night before and then the second place had only sold one ticket because they forgot to advertise, so that got cancelled.

We played quite a bit at the Clarendon and the 100 Club though, some good gigs, some terrible, depending how drunk we were.  We had quite a decent following sometimes and in hindsight probably should have played better for them. I think Wattie from The Exploited liked the band, we certainly hung out a lot and we’re still friends, but I can’t really ever understand what he’s talking about!

I was a big Crass fan, though more their attitude than the music. I was also into Conflict and Subhumans and Rudimentary Peni. I remember getting a lot of shit for it because you were only supposed to like Crass or The Exploited, not both, but I liked different elements of each bands and its fucking ridiculous having rules about which bands you can and can’t like.

At some point Bill, the original bassist and Shark had some sort of falling out. It was weird because he just sort of got replaced. I only really saw him at gigs and rehearsals and suddenly he wasn’t about any more. I didn’t even know exactly where he lived, I think it was a squat in Brixton. No one had a phone so there wasn’t much point in arguing about it. He was a far better bass player than Paul though.

Paul was a friend of Sharks, almost like this Sid Vicious character. They had both had a mutual interest in heroin. I think maybe that’s why Shark recruited him, because I always hated smack.

Soldiers Of Destruction never recorded anything in the studio, not least, as Shark once said, we weren’t really good enough. We got offered a lot of different contracts but turned them all down, which is probably why Carlos left. I must admit I liked the idea of never recording anything so you could only see us live, but it was a bit of a naïve viewpoint.

We’d shoot ourselves in the feet a lot!

I remember Carol Clerk from Melody Maker wanting an interview after our Lyceum show with the UK Subs and we told her to fuck off because she didn’t have any beer. It was a long time before she mentioned us again!

We had no management most of the time and didn’t even know about the Lyceum show until we saw the poster for it on a wall around the corner. From what I can tell, the promoter just used to stick us on the flyers knowing we’d probably turn up and play.

(Collection of Morat)

Shark and myself squatted together a lot and for a while our new drummer Rick squatted with us. Drugs were an everyday thing, mostly speed but pretty much anything else. I always steered clear of heroin because it killed so many people and it didn’t look like fun at all. Later on there was a lot of acid about.

I moved into Petherton Road after getting kicked out of a squat in Stoke Newington and being homeless for a while. It was a fucking nuthouse, lots of drugs and a lot of runaways, with only one responsible adult, this hippy called Jay who kept leaving weird love letters stuck to our doors. I’d be here all day if I started telling those stories, particularly with Sniper in the house setting things on fire. I liked a guy called Luke a lot and managed to keep him off smack for a while, but unfortunately it got him in the end. Many of the readers of KYPP would probably know Luke. Ditto Sniper who also died.

Soldiers Of Destruction never really split up, just kind of fizzled out after Paul was murdered in Hackney. That was the end of the band; we did not bother to replace him. It was almost impossible to get gigs and the whole scene had been ruined by skinhead and punk violence so I was drifting away towards the biker scene anyway. We were actually starting to get pretty good by then, but it all seemed a bit pointless. The band just hadn’t done much because Paul and Shark had got so far into drugs and I was losing interest in it.

I lost touch with Shark and only found out about his passing some years later. But it was fun most of the time and I like to think we at least kept our integrity. It’s weird that people are even interested in Soldiers Of Destruction twenty five to thirty years later…

I guess we weren’t that bad after all.

Morat

You may view the contents of Shark’s photograph album HERE

 

Getting The Fear – Retford Porterhouse 09/03/84 + Leeds Warehouse 29/08/84

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Retford Porterhouse 1 – Death Is Bigger / Fatal Date / Spirit Ov Youth / Coming Down Fast / Dune Buggy Attack / Wish I Was Dreaming

Retford Porterhouse 2 – Swell / Against The Wind / Last Salute / Before I Hang

Leeds Warehouse 1 – Death Is Bigger / Sometimes / Jeroen / Fatal Date / Against The Wind / We Struggle / Swell x2 / Spirit Ov Youth / Rise / Last Salute

Leeds Warehouse 2 – Coming Down Fast / Death Is Bigger

These live tapes from Getting The Fear were given to me by Genesis P’Orridge of Psychic TV while he was still residing in Beck Road, Hackney. A nice couple of cassettes that showcased the live set on a couple of dates recorded in two northern towns by persons unknown to me from the crowd, not the mixing desk.

Getting The Fear evolved from the ashes of Southern Death Cult whose singer Ian Astbury had jumped shipped towards the end of 1983 to form Death Cult with various members of Ritual and Theatre Of Hate. Bee, an ex member of Danse Society joined the backline of Southern Death Cult namely Buzz, Barry and Aky and started rehearsals to lead up to the concert performance recordings that appear on these tapes.

Bee at the time was an on/off member of The Temple Of Psychic Youth and friend of Psychic TV. He was suitably adorned with piercings and tattoos, stabbed and inked by the now deceased Mr Sebastian who operated in his tattoo and piercing parlour along Grays Inn Road near the Mount Pleasant Post Office hub.

The band got a lot of attention from Kill Your Pet Puppy’s fanzine’s successor in all things colour-musu-politikal-magick wise, the wonderful Vague fanzine run by Tom Vague who was a fixture in the same squats and run down gig venues as the KYPP collective and no doubt some of the browsers reading this now. Vague fanzine essays also meant features in the sadly missed Zig Zag magazine which was a nationwide monthly publication.

There was a real buzz about this band and Tom who had a finger in both the Southern Death Cult and T.O.P.Y. camps went onto champion this band and was rightly expecting huge potential from them.

RCA signed up this extremely good looking bunch of alternative boys in 1985 and sold them, as one would imagine, as a flat sounding, over made up pop band ready for the then dwindling Smash Hits magazine market. Not quite as gritty as Vague fanzine or anyone that witnessed some of the celebrations that were the concerts that Getting The Fear performed imagined them to be. Still…

RCA released one 12″ entitled ‘Last Salute’, with the B side ‘We Struggle’ being the pick of the tracks.

They seemed to be a band that was destined to burn out very quickly which of course they did. 1986 saw Bee and Barry start up Into A Circle and Aky get Fun-Da-Mental together. Bee went to Thailand where he still resides and Buzz went to France where he may well still be…

Photographs are from my collection and showcase a performance at Stevenage Bowes Lyon House in March 1984.

Buzz cartoon by Bee courtesy of The Day Of The Ray Gun Cometh fanzine dedicated to Lena…!

Theatre Of Hate – Burning Rome / Biber Records – 1982

Friday, May 11th, 2012

The Original Sin / Do You Believe In The Westworld / The Klan / Conquistador / Poppies

Incinarator / Judgement Hymn / 63 / Rebel Without A Brain / Legion

Uploaded today is the third live release by Theatre Of Hate. The first was a cassette tape recorded at the Lyceum in London, the second was an LP recorded at the Warehouse in Leeds, and the third was an LP recorded at the Tempodrom in (the then separated) West Berlin. This particular LP was released in the UK and in Germany at the same time in 1982 on two different record labels and in two different sleeves. I own both, so I have scanned the artwork on both. The recording is exactly the same on both releases.

The reason why Terry Razor, the then manager of Theatre Of Hate, oversaw so many official bootlegs released throughout the short life time of Theatre Of Hate was to counter the dozens of much worse quality bootlegs ending up on London based bootleg stalls in Hanway Street and Portobello Road!

By the time this official bootleg was released Theatre Of Hate had recorded and released there first and only studio LP ‘Do You Believe In The Westworld’ produced by Mick Jones of The Clash. This LP, and the singles from it, got the band some chart recognition and appearances on several television shows.

Both the previous live releases by Theatre Of Hate are available on KYPP if you use the search function entering the band name therein.

Text below from Wikki…

In 1980, The Pack evolved into Theatre of Hate, with Luke Rendle replacing Walker on drums, Stan Stammers joining on bass, Steve Guthrie on guitar and John ‘Boy’ Lennard on sax (the Werners joined The Straps, who Stan Stammers had previously played for). The first Theatre of Hate release was the “Original Sin” single in November 1980, which reached No. 5 on the UK Indie Chart. Theatre of Hate garnered much early attention as a live act and made their album debut in 1981 with the concert LP ‘He Who Dares Wins (Live at the Warehouse Leeds)’. Steve Guthrie left the band shortly after the album’s release. Another concert recording followed, ‘Live at the Lyceum’ on cassette format only.

In August 1981, Theatre of Hate entered the studio with producer Mick Jones of The Clash to record their first non-live album debut, ‘Westworld’, released in February 1982. Shortly after the album was recorded, new guitarist Billy Duffy (formerly of The Nosebleeds) joined the band, and soon after that, drummer Luke Rendle was replaced by Nigel Preston. The album reached No. 17 in the UK Albums Chart, and also spawned the Top 40 single “Do You Believe in the West World”.

In February 1982, Theatre of Hate released another live album, ‘He Who Dares Wins (Live in Berlin)’ recorded in September 1981.

Billy Duffy left the band to join Death Cult in April 1982. Theatre of Hate continued for a short time before splitting up later that year. Demos for their unreleased second studio album were released as ‘Ten Years After’ in 1993.

Brandon went on to front Spear of Destiny with bassist Stan Stammers. Theatre Of Hate’s post break-up compilation album ‘Revolution’ spent three weeks in the UK Albums Chart, peaking at No. 67. Nigel Preston joined his former band mate Billy Duffy as drummer for The Cult, playing on their 1984 album ‘Dreamtime’.

Last night; Theatre Of Hate performed a thumping and triumphant thirty years anniversary performance of the ‘Do You Believe In The Westworld’ era in Islington attended by myself, Tony D and a cast of other notables. The addition of Stan Stammers and his bass wrestling along with John Boy’s sublime saxophone work created a solid reconstruction of a performance that I had not seen for thirty years. A wonderful performance from a band that I loved during the early eighties.

Tony D and Sandra were both supporters of Theatre Of Hate in the band’s original lifetime following on from both being in attendance at many of Kirk Brandon’s earlier gigs when he was a member of The Pack. Sandra went along to many gigs with Theatre Of Hate in the back their van; elbow deep amongst all the equipment for her sins!

Tony D meets up with Janet Spagetti Hagar and Ruth Hagar for the very first time in three decades at the York pub in Islington. A lovely moment for sure.

Aside from the above folk; Jim Wafford, Mike Slaughter, Gaz DIRT, Kate (who travelled all the way from Plymouth for this Theatre Of Hate performance), Doiran and Jeff also deserve special mention for making the night at Theatre Of Hate a wonderful experience.

Bow Wow Wow – E.M.I. Records – 1980

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Louis Quatorze / Gold He Said / Uomo Sex Al Apache / I Want My Baby on Mars

Sexy Eiffel Towers / Giant Sized Baby Thing / Fools Rush In / Radio G String

Uploaded tonight is the debut LP by Bow Wow Wow released on cassette only. I think this ‘LP’ was actually marketed as a single at the time and I have a vague memory of the release being deemed not an LP or a single by the powers that be in the music industry at the time. The chart return shops of those days agreed, or had no choice but to agree, and the cassette got a low placing in the singles chart and nothing whatsoever in the albums chart! Only McLaren could pull off a non existent number one record on the week of the Queens jubilee in 1977 and this confusion with his next band Bow Wow Wow!

Anyhow at the time, as a much younger Penguin, I enjoyed this cassette only release. Although it must be stated that even at that age the lyrics to the first track on each side of this cassette struck a rather odd note with me. Maybe I was just painfully shy and easily embarrassed at that time. I thought at the time, and still do, that underage rape should not be a subject tolerated in pop culture, even if the lyrics are meant to be a little tongue in cheek. Shame really as they are both great tracks, and I like them a lot, but I find myself always feeling a little guilty in doing so!

The KYPP browsers are old and wise enough to check and decide for themselves.

A chunk of the essay below is from scenesfromripitupandstartagain.blogspot.co.uk which is allied to Simon Reynolds book of the same name and worth checking out. The McLaren obituary from Annabella Lwin is thieved from music-mix.ew.com.

In the summer of 1979 Virgin released Some Product: Carri On, a hastily assembled album of Pistols radio interviews, complete with a cover depicting imaginary Sex Pistols spin-off merchandise – ‘Fatty Jones’ chocolate bars, a ‘Vicious Burger’, a Sid action doll complete with coffin.

The Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren ended up half-heatedly managing a London band called Adam And The Ants. Adam was an ex-art-school punk who’d built up a devoted cult following with mildly kinky songs like “Whip in my Valise” and “Beat My Guest”.

But the singer also had a mind of his own, and McLaren flinched from the prospect of dealing with another Johnny Rotten. Sensing that the band would be far more malleable, he connived with the Ants to sack their leader, and at the end of 1979 he gave Adam the bad news at a rehearsal.

McLaren proposed the new band, now called Bow Wow Wow, as a victory over Thatcherism. Rather than take the obvious post-punk path and bemoan mass unemployment, though, he mischievously framed the absence of work as liberation rather than affliction. Bow Wow Wow’s “W.O.R.K. (N.O. Nah NO! NO! My Daddy Don’t)” declared, ‘Demolition of the work ethic takes us to the age of the primitive’. Going to school was pointless because its function (socializing youth for a life of labour) had been outmoded. ‘T.E.K. technology is DEMOLITION of DADDY / Is A.U.T. Autonomy’, goes the chorus chant, taking the Situationist fantasy of automation enabling a Utopian future of perpetual play and updating it for the microchip era.

McLaren penned lyrics praising cassette piracy and got the ex-Ants to write Burundi-rumbling backing music. But in July 1980, despite getting acres of press and hours of radio play, the debut single “C-30, C-60, C-90 Go!” stalled just outside the Top 30.

In the meantime, towards the end of 1980, Adam Ant’s singles “Kings of the Wild Frontier”, “Dog Eat Dog” and “Ant Music” all smashed their way one by one into the UK Top 10. Adam’s sheer self-belief lent a weird sort of conviction to ludicrous lines like ‘Don’t tread on an ant / He’s done nothing to you / Might come a time / When he’s treading on you’.

Bow Wow Wow’s second release, Your Cassette Pet went on to exploit the underage-sex angle. In “Sexy Eiffel Tower”, singer Annabella Lwin plays a suicidal girl about to leap from the top of Paris’s most famous landmark. She gets implausibly horny in the proximity of death: ‘Feel my treasure chest / Let’s have sex before I die / Be my special guest’. Plunging through the air (‘Falling legs around your spire’) she enjoys a petit mort or two before the grand mort of hitting the ground. Annabella claimed, with apparent sincerity, that the panting sounds she expertly imitated weren’t meant to be orgasm but the sound of panic. “Louis Quatorze” concerns a pervy bandit-of-love who surprises Annabella with unannounced visits and ravishment at gunpoint. The music, though, almost vanquished any moral reservations: Bow Wow Wow had developed an exhilarating and unique sound, all frolicking polyrhythms, twangabilly guitar and frantic-but-funky bass. Add Annabella’s girlish, euphoric vocals – especially charming on a cover of the Johnny Mercer standard “Fools Rush In” – and the results were irresistible.

More striking than its contents, though, was Your Cassette Pet’s radical format: a cassette-only release midway in length between an EP and an album, it retailed at only £1.99 (half the price of a traditional vinyl album) and came in a ‘flip-pack’ carton similar to a cigarette packet.

McLaren’s contrived controversies kept backfiring. Desperate to stir up some buzz for Bow Wow Wow’s debut album proper, he designed its cover as a simulation of Dejeuner sur l’Herbe, Manet’s 1863 painting denounced as ‘indecent’ by Napoleon III for its image of a naked woman surrounded by fully clothed men. Annabella posed nude (under duress, she later revealed) but because she was still just under sixteen, her mother managed to stop the cover from being used.

Another blow for McLaren came with the commercial failure of “Chihuahua” – simultaneously Bow Wow Wow’s most seductive single to date and their manager’s most blatantly cynical gambit. Mouthing McLaren’s words to a wistful, Blondie-like melody, Annabella sang about being ‘a rock ‘n’ roll puppet’, confessing, ‘I can’t dance and I can’t sing / I can’t do anything’ and warning, ‘I’m a horrible idiot / So don’t fall in love with me’. You could mount a defence of “Chihuahua” as a sly deconstruction of the pop industry’s machinery of star-lust and fantasy. But if you consider McLaren’s genuine anti-feminism, his real-world treatment of Annabella as meat, and the way he ventriloquized those humiliating words through Annabella’s own lips, “Chihuahua” leaves a bad taste.

Adam Ant’s zenith came with “Prince Charming”, his September 1981 UK chart topper, and one of the strangest hit singles ever. Its keening coyote-yowl melody resembled a Native American battle cry; the beat lurched disconcertingly, a waltz turning into an aboriginal courtship dance. For the video, Adam glides between a series of arrested poses, frozen tableaux of defiance and hauteur that weirdly anticipate ‘vogueing’, the New York gay underground’s form of competitive dancing inspired by photo spreads in fashion mags. At the end of the video, Adam impersonates a gallery of icons – Rudolph Valentino, Alice Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Marlon Brando. Song and video both expose a certain empty circularity to Adam’s neo-glam idea of reinventing yourself: imitate me as I’ve imitated my heroes. The chorus is oddly brittle and defensive (‘Ridicule is nothing to be scared of’) while the ultimate message – dressing up in fancy finery as a way of flaunting self-respect – feels distinctly trite.

Finally, Bow Wow Wow scored their UK pop breakthrough in early 1982 with “Go Wild in the Country”, an anti-urban fantasy featuring risqué lines about swinging naked from the trees and romping in fields ‘where snakes in the grass are absolutely free’. “Go Wild” exhorted youth to spurn KFC and McDonalds and go ‘hunting and fishing’.

McLaren obituary from Annabella Lwin

1980, a fourteen year old girl named Myant Myant Aye was plucked from life working at a dry cleaners by former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who died in April 2010 at age sixty four. He changed her name to Annabella Lwin, and hired her to front new wave world music act Bow Wow Wow.

Annabella shared her memories of the late impresario.

“I knew him when I was in my teens, and he’s the one that started me as a singer in a band many years ago. I was working in a dry cleaners, and he actually got me fired. But bless his sweet cotton socks, because little did I know what was to happen after that. I was auditioned, and I met Malcolm McLaren the same day I auditioned for the guys in the band. I didn’t know who he was or anything. I was just told he was the manager of the band, and he was putting together something new”.

“On the day, I thought he was a strange creature from another planet. He had a chat with my mother, and asked her — well, he didn’t ask. He said, ‘We need her for this band.’ And the rest of it was pretty much an everyday thing. We got to work together on songs, and I was told to sing certain things, and he was the one that really gave me encouragement in that situation, as opposed to the band. He was the one that said, ‘Use your imagination,’ which is something that will never leave me”.

“If it hadn’t been for Malcolm, I don’t think I would have sustained my existence with the three guys in the band. I can’t explain it any better. I was a young girl, and he was an authority figure for me. He was an intellectual to me. He used to know about fine wines and stuff like that. And he used to always talk with this really posh accent, which I couldn’t quite get over. I had no idea what the music industry was about at that time, and he would encourage me to be more me, and told me that I shouldn’t change to be something I wasn’t. He used to tell me to keep it real, and use my imagination, and to have fun. He said it was an adventure”.

“It was interesting to note that when I worked with Malcolm, he seemed very shy in dealing with me one on one. We were always surrounded with other people. I don’t know how many females he’d worked with, but he was — I can’t say a father figure, but he was someone I would look up to. Because he obviously had a lot of experience doing whatever he’d been doing, and he encouraged me, so that was a good thing”.

“Malcolm McLaren recognized something within me I didn’t even know I was capable of. I don’t think I would have been the singer that I am today, if it hadn’t been for him, even long after I had an association with him on a professional level. I’m so grateful to have known somebody like him. I would have been a different kind of artist — I would have been a put together, pre-packaged kind of artist, and I’ve never been like that since I was in the band Bow Wow Wow that I was lucky enough to be in for a hot minute, before they kicked me out. And I would not have been the singer of that band, because I think the guys wanted to get someone more attractive or something”.

“Down the road, I discovered the other stuff he’d done, and I realized that he was like a big schoolboy, and he was having a bit of fun with these building blocks. And if it didn’t go his way, he’d knock ‘em all down and start all over again with some other situation. It’s great to know that he did so much in his life. I mean, what an accomplishment! He started the punk rock movement, and there are a lot of groups out there that have him to thank for them being so big today in the industry. Maybe they don’t take that into consideration because they were little boys or little girls watching the telly, but if it hadn’t been for Sex Pistols and the whole punk movement, there wouldn’t have been bands like Spandau Ballet. A lot of people will definitely be feeling the loss of this genius. Because he was a genius. He saw such great potential in people. He just went all these different directions. You can’t really say any less than that: The guy was a genius.”


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