Bow Wow Wow Clawing Their Way Back

New wave flash-in-the-pan band ready to embark on 13-date comeback tour of U.S.

Annabella Lwin has spent half her life fronting rock bands, and she's only just

turned 32.

"We'll just have to wait and see if that new wave sound stands up now," said

singer Lwin about her reunion tour with '80s pop act Bow Wow Wow, which kicks

off Friday night in Seattle.

The new wave flash-in-the-pan quartet that she fronted practically a lifetime

ago, best known for their sexually suggestive 1982 hit "I Want Candy," join a

raft of survivors who've come back for another go this year, among them Echo and

the Bunnymen and Duran Duran, who have launched several come back attempts since

their heyday.

"I think we're still relevant on a playing level and a musical level," said

Lwin, who will be joined by original bassist Leigh Gorman, new drummer Eshan

Khadaroo and new guitarist Dave Calhoun for the 13-date tour, with more dates to

be added later. "Our music's a lot rawer than what's out there now and bands are

getting back to that kind of music. It's ironic that dance music is big again

now, because it's just like it was 15 years ago when we started."

Bow Wow Wow was put together by former Sex Pistols manager/mastermind Malcolm

McLaren in 1980. Singer Lwin was discovered by McLaren singing in a dry cleaners in

Kilburn, London; she was 14 at the time. In 1981 the group had its debut album released, the tongue

twisting See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over! Go

Ape Crazy!, quickly establishing a niche for themselves, not just because of

the then-underage Lwin's girlish sensuality, but also due to the group's

signature African-percussion, big-beat drum sound. Still, it was the semi-nude album cover art

of teenage Lwin that caused the English press to take notice.

The new lineup should have no problem conjuring the signature sound, Lwin said,

with 22-year-old drummer Khadaroo getting expert training from former drummer

Dave Barbarossa, who is currently a member of Republica. Former Vapours member

Calhoun, 28, will fill the guitar slot of original guitarist Matthew Ashman, who

died in 1995 from complications of diabetes.

The band broke up in 1984 after their final album, When the Going Gets Tough,

the Tough Get Going, failed to catch fire.

But the time may be ripe for a return of Bow Wow Wow, said Melanie Bardot, an

executive assistant with Machine Entertainment, the company that books Seattle's

500-capacity Ballard Firehouse, the first two stops on the tour. "Ballard

Firehouse books all kinds of retro bands," Bardot said. "Foghat played here last

week. We've had Quiet Riot, A Flock of Seagulls and Missing Persons play here.

There's been a lot of interest for Bow Wow Wow. We expect it to come close to

selling out."

That sentiment was echoed by Patrick Kellum, 27, the webmaster for a Bow Wow Wow

fan page. "I found it a rather nice surprise," Kellum said about the reunion

tour. "I never really expected them to get back together, but I'm glad they're

doing it. I'm really hoping thay release a CD of live music from the tour. That

would be pure heaven!"

Kellum said that with the return of punk and pop, he thought the time was ripe

for the band -- who he discovered at age 11 -- to make their comeback, although

he wasn't even sure he'd be able to see their show. "I live in Yuba City,

Calif., a boring, do-nothing town," he lamented. "Hopefuly they will be playing

in the Sacramento area. If so, I will try my best to go see them. Anything

further away would be out of my cash range."

Although Bow Wow Wow were originally scheduled to get together to join a number

of other '80s new-wave brethren for a package tour that was to include Human

League, Howard Jones, the Fixx and Berlin, that plan fell through, leaving Lwin

and crew to take it alone.

"The people that like that kind of music don't get to hear it very often because

these bands aren't touring anymore," Bardot said. "So when they do come, people

like me who really get excited about '80s music, this is their lives."

When the '80s tour fell apart, Lwin, who said she spent much of the late '80s

searching for the right, complimentary musicians and a label that understood her

unique allure, said she figured "what the hell? ... I expect [the fans] to throw

loads of carnations on stage," she said, promising the band will play "exactly

how we did before."

"If you really want to know why we've come back," the singer said, "Ask

yourself 'what's missing out there?' "

Bow Wow Wow Tour Dates:

Dec. 19-20; Seattle, Wash.; Ballard Firehouse

Dec. 23; San Francisco, Calif.; Slim's

Dec. 27; Ventura, Calif.; Ventura Theater

Dec. 28; San Ramon, Calif.; Maestro's

Dec. 31; San Diego, Calif.; Brick By Brick

Jan. 1; Palm Springs, Calif.; Icehouse

Jan. 2; Santa Ana, Calif.; Galaxy Theater

Jan. 3; Los Angeles, Calif.; Billboard Live

Jan. 7-8; Boise, Idaho; (To Be Announced)

Jan. 10; Denver, Colo.; Bluebird Theater

[Thurs., Dec. 18, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]