Just found this album last Friday in the free bin outside a local charity shop, without a sleeve and in pretty bad condition. There are big scratches over both sides, but it is a fun album to share, because the bands are anonymous, it mostly consists of folk songs that are in the public domain, plus, it has never been re-issued.
Issued by the tiny local budget label Topas, and manufactured by the Phonocolor company, it´s probably the most amateurish Berlin beat album. Only, The Bounties, The Medussas, The Black Devils, and Die Floridas were not from Berlin. So, where were they from? I have no idea. There was a Black Devils group in Bochum. But is this the same group?
Topas was the LP branch of the super-budget flexi-disc labels Okay Exquisit and Rondo Spezial, that mostly issued 45s. I have posted Okay and Rondo releases repeatedly over the past years. Obviously, variety budget labels only cared for profit. But Topas went even further, with their habit of not assigning any specific names to the songs on the labels or on the sleeves. So which artists really played on this record? And when was it released?
I simply chose the order of the bands on the labels, but maybe that´s not making matters easier. Another Topas LP (Melodie und Rhythmus, Topas # 2606) also features eight of these tracks (The Old Cottonfields, O my Darling Clementine, Almdudler, Gregor, Oh Susanna, Good Night Ladies, Greenleaves) but only features one beat group: The Black Devils. Still, are all these songs really performed by the same group?
Lots of ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????….
Cotton Fields was written and first recorded by Lead Belly in 1940.
“When I was a little bitty baby/ My mama done rock me in the cradle/ In them old cotton fields back home/ It was back in Louisiana/ Just about a mile from Texarkana/ In them old cotton fields back home”
The Quartermaster’s Stores is a traditional British army song. The Shadows instrumental version of Quartermasster´s Stores (re-named after the BBC´s science fiction TV series Quartermass), was the flip side of their 1960 hit Apache.
Almdudler is an Austrian soft drink, that was developed in 1957. The phrase auf der Alm dudeln, means “singing in the (alpine) meadows”. Austrians love Almdudler almost as much as Coke. A Radler variety (mixed with beer), is called Almradler. In the wine-growing regions of eastern Austria,Almdudler is mixed with locally produced white wine.
Probably for copyright reasons, this song was titled Almdudler. It does sound a lot like Rocket Man by the Spotnicks, which was incidentally adapted from the melody of a Russian folksong
Oh My Darling, Clementine is an American western folk ballad, or rather a parody of a ballad, written by Percy Montrose in 1884.
“In a cavern, in a canyon,/ Excavating for a mine/ Dwelt a miner forty niner,/ And his daughter Clementine/ Oh my darling, oh my darling,/ Oh my darling, Clementine!/ Thou art lost and gone forever/ Dreadful sorry, Clementine/ (…) Drove she ducklings to the water/ Ev’ry morning just at nine,/ Hit her foot against a splinter,/ Fell into the foaming brine./ (…)/ Ruby lips above the water,/ Blowing bubbles, soft and fine,/ But, alas, I was no swimmer,/ So I lost my Clementine./ (…)/ How I missed her! How I missed her,/ How I missed my Clementine,/ But I kissed her little sister,/ I forgot my Clementine.”
Goodnight, Ladies is a folk song written in 1847 by Edwin Pearce Christy, founder of the blackface minstrel group Christy’s Minstrels.
“Goodnight, ladies! Goodnight, ladies!/ Goodnight, ladies!/ We’re going to leave you now./ Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along, O’er the dark blue sea.”
Home on the Range was originally written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley in the early 1870s. It´s also the state song of the American state of Kansas. .
“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,/ Where the deer and the antelope play,/ Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/ And the skies are not cloudy all day./ Home, home on the range,/ Where the deer and the antelope play;/ Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/ And the skies are not cloudy all day.”
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad is an American folk song, first published as “Levee Song” in 1894.
“I’ve been working on the railroad/ All the live-long day./ I’ve been working on the railroad/ Just to pass the time away./ Can’t you hear the whistle blowing,/Rise up so early in the morn´/ Can’t you hear the captain shouting,/ “Dinah, blow your horn!”
Yankee Doodle is a American patriotic song that dates back to the mid-18th century. Also the state anthem of Connecticut.
As a term, Doodle first appeared in the early seventeenth century, and is thought to derive from the Low German dudel or dödel, meaning “fool” or “simpleton”.
See also: Almdudler
This is not the classic German beat tune by Drafi Deutscher & Manuela. Probably a self-written song.
“Take it easy Mister Playboy,/ wenn sie dich nicht lieben kann./ Leider sucht sie keinen Playboy,/ sie will einen echten Mann./ Leider sucht sie keinen Playboy,/ sie will einen echten Mann./ Take it easy Mister Playboy./ Muss es grade diese sein?/ Glaub´ mir, lieber Mister Playboy,/ lange bleibst du nicht allein./ Glaub´ mir lieber Mister Pl,ayboy,/ lange bleibst du nicht allein./ Sei nicht traurig, Mister Playboy./ Lass sie gehn,/ mach dir nichts draus./Take it easy Mister Playboy,/ such dir eine andre aus./Take it easy Mister Playboy,/ such dir eine andre aus./(…)/ Take it easy Mister Playboy,/ such dir eine andre aus/ “
“Gehe nicht, o Gregor” is a Ukrainian folk song, with German lyrics written in the early 1930s by German Boy Scouts leaders Eberhard Köbel and Günther Wolff.
The tune is still sung by German Boy Scouts today.
“Gehe nicht, o Gregor, gehe nicht zum Abendtanz;/ zauberische Mädchen folgen deinen Schritten dort./ Weiße Hand wie Schnee braut dir Tee aus Zauberkräutern,/ trübt den Spiegel deiner Seele wie der Wind den See./ Dort ist auch die eine mit den schwarzen Augenbraun./ Glaube uns, o Gregor, das ist eine Zauberin./ Ihre schmale Hand braut dir Tee aus Zauberkräutern,/ legt sich über deine Seele wie der Herbst aufs Land.”
“Kalinka” (Russian: Калинка) is a Russian song written in 1860 by Ivan Larionov.
The refrain of the song refers to the kalinka, which is the snowball tree.
Oh! Susanna , a minstrel song by Stephen Foster, was first published in 1848.
My favorite track. Great piercing organ sound!
The Green Leaves of Summer was written by Dimitri Tiomkin for the 1960 film The Alamo. In 1961 the song was nominated for an Academy Award.
Ultra-garage version of The Searchers cover of Don & Dewey’s Farmer John.
“Oh-yeah, a-ha-ha/ Oh-yeah, a-ha-ha/ Oh-yeah, a-ha-ha/ Oh-yeah, a-ha-ha/ Oh-yeah, a-ha-ha/ Oh-yeah/ Mmm, farmer John/ I’m in love with you daughter/ Wow-wow-wow/ With a champagne eyes/ Yeah, she knows that I love her/ Yeah, but she tell me lies/ I like the way she walks/ The way she talks/ She really knocks me out/ Causin’ me to shout, oh-wow/ Now look here!”
Johnny Guitar was written by Peggy Lee for the 1954 film Johnny Guitar, directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Joan Crawford.
The Spotnicks recorded Johnny Guitar as an instrumental in 1963
“Die Floridas” - What a great band name!
Another Shadows song…
Sorry for the sound quality. It was a free record. A presumably much better copy than mine is currently for sale on Ebay for 32 euros
Körmendi Együttes means The Körmendi Group and Visszhang means Echo. Band leader, vocalist and composer Vilmos Körmendi has no Wikipedia page, but is a renowned artist in Hungary. The link will lead you to the only appearance of his, on Youtube. Apparently he is still alive and kicking.
This is another re-up from 2008. The song is from a flexible postcard record…
At the moment, I´m staying in Budapest together with the staff of Jungle World. Our brand new all-Hungarian issue will come out on Thursday. It will contain a wide array of cultural and political topics, including some critical commentary regarding the country´s current situation. Each year I´m appointed to find local Hungarian cartoonists for a double-spread of comics in full color. So far Dániel Csordas, Gróf Balázs and András Halter have promised to contribute. Hopefully, the amazing Zoltán Fehér will also be included
Of course, there was also some time to go record shopping. The city has a good selection of record stores and I did find some cool records, but recording it will have to wait until I get back home. So, for the time being, here´s a re-up of an old Hungarian record that I posted back in 2009.
I still don´t know anything about this Hungarian ensemble, not even if they really were from Hungary. But actually there´s not much to know.
Tip-Top-Slop is a standard semi-rock instrumental played by a studio group. But both these songs are not bad. Not great but not bad. People obsess over much worse music nowadays.
And at least you have probably never heard these tunes before…
In the 1950s, there was fierce controversy among jazz fans, over whether you liked modern jazz or Dixieland. Unfortunately, the question was never, if you liked to dance or not. Of course a lot of people actually liked both, but somehow, over time, the modern fans won. They convinced everyone, that modern jazz was for the smart progressive people, and trad jazz was for the conservative dummies. When the snobs declared jazz an academic art form, and made everybody sit down, they killed it.
Today, the swing dancing scene has embraced trad jazz. Sometimes, jazz musicians see their audience dance to their music again, for the first time after decades. As generic as lot of trad jazz was in the 50s, at least it was still popular dance music. So popular, that even the most commercially-driven budget labels were dishing out jazz records.
Anyway, just found this 45 a few days ago, with no sleeve and quite beat up. Two instrumental versions of folk songs that are in the public domain, recorded by a pseudonymous band for a short-lived, long-defunct, cheapo label, make this perfect blog material, according to the rules.
Fuchs, du hast die Gans gestohlen is a German children´s song.
This is “bad” jazz. I like it!
Muss i denn zum Städele hinaus is a traditional German folk song. Elvis recorded it in 1960. The Feetwarmers (with Klaus Doldinger on clarinet!) were voted “Best Traditional Band” at the Amateur Jazz Festival in Düsseldorf in 1960, and recorded an instrumental version of the song on their first single for Odeon, that same year.
The Favorit label´s cash-in version is not that bad in comparison…
Found this last Thursday in a local thrift store for one euro and, because of the nondescript sleeve, thought it was just another advertisement record. At home, the two songs really blew me away! Two great beat/krautrock songs on this one! A quick check on the Internet revealed that Smoking takes you faster to God has been reissued in the late 90s on the “Kraut! Demons! Kraut! – German Psychedelic Underground 1968-1974″ CD bootleg comp, compiled by none other than the late Werner Voran aka The Lolly Pope. Apparently this is quite a rare Krautrock 45 that somebody is currently trying to sell on Ebay for 100 euros. Hopefully to no avail.
Unlike most musicians who played in 1960s beat groups, former Heart of Blues bassist Norbert Maislein-Sylvester, cares for his musical legacy, and loaded Smoking takes you faster to God, including some info about the band, up on Youtube, himself. He even illustrated the video with the Kraut! Demons! Kraut! bootleg CD image, instead of the original sleeve that you see above. Heart of Blues, a popular R&B Band who played around the Munich area, were: Graf Amadeus von Donnersmarck, guitar; Norbert Maislein-Sylvester bass; Henny Stadler, vocals; Peter Stadler, keyboard and Rudi Zöttel, drums. Some former members still play in Munich bands today.
No info, however, on Munich Express found on the Internet. Their Nebellungenlied is a well done combination of funny lyrics in the 3 Travellers vein, set to beat music.
This is a perfect record for Berlin Beatet Bestes: it´s a beat record, it´s got a cartoon sleeve and it´s an advertisement record, containing music with a practical purpose. Ironically, while Krautrock is considered to be underground music, these songs were actually commissioned by the German government. In 1969 Heart of Blues and Munich Express won a contest, launched by minister of family affairs Käte Strobel, for “Best Anti-Smoking Song”
Well, thanks German government, for cutting these two wonderful sides for eternity!
I think I´m going to light one up right now, to get a little faster to god…
A bit of trivia:
As you can see on the labels, this 45 was pressed at Schallplattenfabrik Pallas out of Diepholz, Lower Saxony, a family-owned company that has produced records since 1948. On the 1st of April 2013, a mass fire destroyed their CD-manufacturing building, causing an estimated damage of 10 million euros. The factory building where Pallas is pressing vinyl, a business they had bravely held onto all through the worst part of the 90s until now, was miraculously left intact.
A sign from above?
It´s hard to believe today, that Germany´s “Bible Belt”, way down in the south, used to be a hotbed of communist activity, dating back to the Bavarian Soviet Republic of 1918/1919. In the late 1960s, a group of communist musicians, the Münchner Songgruppe, were still rallying for the revolution.
Dürer-Lied deals with the public celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Sung in Franconian dialect, it claims that, in contrast to the official appraisal by the Bavarian upper class and conservative political elite, “Dürer´s warm painter´s heart was close to the peasants.” It points out, that the capitalists do not own Dürer and that “Not before that mob is gone, will we, the workers – the peasants of today – finally “own” Dürer. Everything for the workers – Nothing for the corporations. You don´t own shit!
“…und Euch gehört ein Dreck!”
Recorded live in Nürnberg in 1971.
Lied vom Bayernland is a bold criticism of the ownership structure in Bavaria. The catchy chorus links the notorious head of the Bavarian governement Franz Josef Strauß and his “gang” to the Neo-Nazis, calling them “Bavaria´s worst plague”.
“Strauß und seine Bazis/ und die Neo-Nazis, / die sind Bayern größe Plag.”
Recorded live at the Arbeiterlieder-Festival in Essen in 1970.
The leftist Pläne label was most probably the oldest German independent label. Founded in 1961, their records were initially sold independently through grass roots distribution. In the 1980s it changed distribution to Rough Trade, still mostly focusing on political singer-songwriter material, but also releasing a heap of extraordinary rock, jazz, and even some punk/new wave records. Almost unnoticed by the German entertainment industry, Pläne went out of business, after 50 years, in 2011.
During the 1970s it was vice versa: the conservatives were always struggling to kick the social democrats out of office. But no matter how catchy their songs were, they failed each time.
“Das Lied vom politischen Frühling” – The song of political springtime.
“Komm aus deiner linken Ecke” – Come out of your left corner.
Local Berlin singer-songwriter Horst Steffen Sommer was on a humorous mission to kill clichés. In the liner notes on the back of the sleeve he is described as “a notorious pain in the neck” and then quoted: ” I want people to realize that it´s nonsense to be creeped out. They should learn to laugh at all the clichés of what is creepy and disgusting.”
While fighting the horrors of war, greed and capitalism are still worthy causes, some people in the late 60s counter culture also tried to get rid of two-person relationships, the family and stereotypes. Those were hopeless endeavors. Sommer´s wish nevertheless fulfilled itself over time. Horror movies of the 1960s only make people laugh today.
The liner notes also mention an LP that was due to come out at the end of 1969. Maybe it never did. Unfortunately none of his songs have ever been reissued. These are great weird songs that deserve a better spot in the pantheon of German musical weirdness.
Come on Jimmy, let´s eat a corpse/ Jimmy, come to the morgue/ Jimmy, the bones have gotten softer/ Jimmy, come to the funeral party…
Recorded live at the Steve Club Berlin.
The record is signed on the inner sleeve:
“If your environment makes you feel out of place, courageously grin in its face.”
Best wishes to Monika and Arno
from Horst Steffen Sommer, September 24th 1969
Liebe Monika, Lieber Arno,
ich habe eure Platte vor einigen Jahren hier in Kreuzberg auf einem Flohmarkt gekauft. Bitte meldet euch, ich schicke sie euch gern zurück.