November 17, 2012
Bow Wow Wow's history may be short but it's complex. Over their four album life span, Bow Wow Wow's music ranges from simple, goofy, non-sensical tunes to complex, crisp pop masterpieces. Bow Wow Wow's music has been described as a pastiche of Latin and African beats, 50's rock-n-roll, and spaghetti western soundtracks. The band packaged all of this together with an incredible sense of humor and vigor.
With thundering African/Latin percussion and twangy, Duane Eddy guitars, Bow Wow Wow struggled to maintain a consistent image and sound through a host of record producers in their short life span. But despite the numerous people who shaped their sound from 1980-1983, a strong Bow Wow Wow identity remained intact. That unique style created a wonderful antithesis to the gloom of the London and U.S. music scene in the early 80s.
The new wave synth pop collective Men Without Hats were formed in 1980 by brothers Ivan and Stefan Doroschuk. Ivan was the leader of the group, writing the majority of the songs and providing the lead vocals; Stefan was the guitarist; and other members changed frequently throughout the course of the group's career. They independently released their debut EP, Folk of the '80s, in 1980; it was reissued the following year by Stiff in Britain. During 1982, the band consisted of Ivan, Stefan, another brother Colin Doroschuk (keyboards), along with drummer Allan McCarthy; this is the lineup that recorded Men Without Hats' 1982 debut album, Rhythm of Youth. Taken from their debut, the single "The Safety Dance" became a major hit, peaking on the American charts at number three in 1983. Driven by an insistent three-chord synthesizer riff, the song was one of the biggest synth pop hits of the new wave era.