On April 13 Werner Voran passed away. He was 58 years old. Werner was a musician, artist and record collector but also the main man behind a series of compilations called Prae-Kraut Pandemonium. These comps are the German equivalent to Crypt Records´very influential Back from the Grave Garage-Punk series. Back in the early 90s, when most German Beat Fans were still focused on mainstream “Oldies”, Werner and his collaborators dug up the lost sounds of the German underground of the mid to late 60s, the pre-Krautrock era. The Prae-Kraut series basically put that sound back on the map! Or rather they created this sound and made it cool to listen to. It was their achievement to let a whole new generation of music fans discover the often crude sounds of German amateur Beat bands.
Of course the fact, that it was a bootleg series, contributed to the cool factor. But mostly it was the selection of songs – the way they put disparate songs together, that did not have any connection with each other, but made sense in the context of the compilation. It was Werner´s and his friends own punk attitude and their collector spirit that fueled the series. In terms of pure cool and consistency the Prae-Kraut comps remain unparalleled in the history of German re-issue series.
When releasing LPs became too expensive the series continued in digital format. Starting with Volume 16 in 2008. Prae-Kraut was released exclusively as RAR files trough Spurensicherung Blog. A fitting name: the way they presented their obscure finds, was like a “securing of evidence”. I felt quite honored, when Werner used one of my scans from a German comic book called Lupo, that I had posted in May 2008, for the virtual “cover” of Volume 17.
The compilation can still be downloaded from Spurensicherung.
I never met Werner personally but we emailed a bit and he occasionally commented on some of my posts. Last September, when I hastily announced a new set of blog ethics, Werners´reply was straight forward, determined but also very inspiring:
“We all know about The Monks, but they weren’t the only ex-GI’s on the German scene. Screamin’ Andy Nevison (whose throat might sound familiar to owners of our Vol.2) and his Westphalian band The Rhythm Masters had German and American members and their three 45’s were produced exclusively for the German market. “White Woman, don’t roll your big blue eyes at me” wouldn’t have been much of a hit in Alabama 66 anyway. Blessed with good looks not unlike a younger brother of Sam Cooke, Andy honours sister Rosa with more than just innate seat on the bus. Say it loud, I’m black and kraut. Dig it!”
Just because your skin is white, you think you´re mighty fine/ Yes, you told me that you love me, then you rolled your big blue eyes/ When I saw you last week, your skin was turning black/ Go find the guy that beat you up and ask him to take you back/ Don´t roll your big blue eyes at me… “
( I´d love to get the rest of the lyrics but I can´t understand what he´s saying. Any volunteers to translate these exceptional anti-racist 1960s beat lyrics?)
Andy Nevison was born to Jamaican parents and grew up in London. Like many young British musicians in the 1950s, he started to play music in a skiffle band. During his military service he was stationed in Gibraltar, Cyprus, Malta and Germany. Based in Delmenhorst, he often traveled 130 kilometers to Hamburg, to perform in various clubs, together with musicians like Tony Sheridan and Gerry & The Pacemakers.
In the early 70s he settled in Recklinghausen and became a fixture in the local music scene playing Blues, Jazz and Rock´n´Roll. In 2006 Andy Nevison and the Recklinghausen All-Stars recorded the CD “Wakado”. Shortly after local occasional journalist Ulle Bowski did an interview with Andy Nevison on his balcony.
On March 27 2012 Andy Nevison died in Recklinghausen. He was 74 years old.
(There is no Wikipedia text about Andy Nevison but Guido Röcken wrote a very nice biography and obituary in German on his website.)
Andy Nevison and his Rhythm-Masters, “Rhythm-Masters Swing” b/w “Shaking It Up”, 1964 (Tampicord # 1 D 934)
Andy Nevison, “Humpty Dumty” b/w “Somebody”, 1965 ( Ariola # 18 576)
Andy Nevison and his Rhythm-Masters, “Indiano” b/w “What´s Your Name”, 1966 (EMI Columbia # C 23145)
Andy Nevison, “Pleite” b/w “Worried Blues” (R&B # ?), 1967
ANDY NEVISON & HIS RHYTHM MASTERS, Shaking It Up, 1964
Werner about “Shaking It Up”, reissued on Prae-Kraut Pandemonium Volume 17:
“ANDY NEVISON & HIS RHYTHM MASTERS: their 3 hard to find singles for major labels have already been well documented on Prae-Kraut. But that’s not all there is to the career of this black ex-GI in Germany. A big surprise – and a 7″ the man himself had forgotten about when asked these days – is “Shaking It Up” on the totally obscure Tampicord label from Hamm, Westfalia (’64). Certainly a band in progress, and not up to the monster standard of “Indiano”, but a good example of the early sound of the German red light districts on the wrong side of the tracks. On par with King Size Taylor and Bobby Patrick. For those of you who care: Andy Nevison had a 5th and last single (the only one without The Rhythm Masters) on the German label R+B in ’67. This was a novelty German version of Ray Charles’ “Busted” called “Pleite” b/w “Worried Blues”. Funny, but not much more…”
Most people will probably only shrug their shoulders when they hear these songs, but to me this record seems almost unreal. It´s like this record was made for Berlin Beatet Bestes and on so many levels!
1. It is an advertisement record,
2. It was privately pressed for a Berlin car dealer
3. It´s got a cartoon sleeve
4. The two risqué songs are sung by local Berlin star Brigitte Mira, an actress who frequently worked with Fassbinder
5. The music is in sort of a Dixieland Jazz style
6. Of course it´s also never been reissued.
What more can I ask for?
In a way these two risqué songs, backed by Heinrich Riethmüller, predate Brigitte Mira´s bold later work. For some unknown reason the Berlin car dealer Bunde had the idea to advertize for his business with some naughty songs. Some sleeves even had “Der kesse Gruss vom Autohaus Bunde” ( Naughty greetings from Autohaus Bunde) stamped on the front. You can see this stamp on a copy that some greedy person is trying to sell on Ebay for the ridiculous amount of 35 Euros. Of course nobody will ever buy it. Listen to the songs and you´ll see why. Last week I paid less than 50 cents in a thrift store and I think that´s much more appropriate. Most likely it was the name that got the seller to put a higher price tag on this record.
Brigitte Mira (1910-2005) was most famous for the work she did with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was Fassbinder´s genius to cast people like Brigitte Mira for his art films. She had been a popular German actress since the 1940s, but was mostly known for her comedies. Mira´s personal courage made her steer off the beaten path and towards serious, more challenging roles, like in Ali:Fear Eats The Soul (1974).
By the early 70s Fassbinder regularly worked for German television. “Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht” was a TV-show directed by Fassbinder for Brigitte Mira. German television never got more campy than this:
Despite her adventurous career, in the eyes of the majority of the German public, Brigitte Mira remained „the archetypal funny old Berlinerin with a heart.” (The Guardian). But in the 70s Brigitte Mira basically had two careers, appearing in cutting-edge art films and also starring in funny popular films and on television (most prominently in the series Drei Damen vom Grill).
Finally: the music.
Die alte Clofrau translates to “The Old Toilet Lady”. In the song she tells the story of her life as a bathroom attendant. A blues song about how she flushes the toilet for the very last time…
Triebwagen is railcar, but Trieb also means sex drive. Mit dem Triebwagen nach Italien translates to “Travelling to Italy by railcar”. The lyrics deal with the cliché that Italian men are sexually potent. So horny female German tourists travel to Italy in search of sexual adventures…
The artwork of this record is not signed. I have a vague suspicion who could have done it but so far I can not put a name to it.
I like the loose brush work of the anonymous artist. I think it´s pretty cool cartoon-style drawing, especially for a simple advertisement record. Unfortunately the designers didn´t know that the drawing would make the sleeve really stand out and scaled it waaaaay too much. Only to make room for an over-sized clef in the center. Such stupid design “decisions” are still the norm today in graphic design. An intricate two dimensional drawing that takes some effort and hand craft to produce, is reduced in favor of a boring one dimensional sign. A meaningless sign that takes up all the space, so that the delicate brush work of the artist is reduced to blurry lines. I´ll try to rectify that “mistake” after 53 years by showing a magnified version of the drawing for the first time:
The record is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Opel 72 Wagen Klub.
Since this is still a music blog:
Fashion comes and goes and after a while a lot of material ultimately looses its appeal. A company who makes money with an artist today, will drop him tomorrow, if he ceases to sell. No matter how popular he used to be, a company will not keep his material available. After he dies, his music will slowly be forgotten. Unless that is, it was recorded in a cult style.
A remarkable exception seems to be the family of Emile Lambert. Emile Lambert (1923-1986), real name Emile Kodeck, was a comedian/singer from Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking Southern region of Belgium. In the late 50s and early 60s Lambert recorded a slew of records, among them five 45s and the LP 140 Kilos De Bonne Humeur Avec Émile Lambert for the Olympia label, and some others for Fontana, Phillips and Pathé. None of these records have ever been reissued, but at least his son cared enough for his father´s work to create a very personal and touching video of his father on Youtube here.
The only song of Emile Lambert´s vast works, that has ever been legitimately reissued, is the rousing Le Houla-Bop. It first appeared on a French CD in the 90s and then recently on the excellent, very recommendable compilation LP Rock Rock Rock – French Rock and Roll 1956-1959 by Born Bad Records. That song was only reissued, because it was a satire of a cult style.
So if you have a deceased artist in your family or among your friends, don´t rely on their former business partners to manage their legacy. Business is bound by financial and legal necessities and doesn´t care for sentimental contemplation. Otherwise some record company would have let these tracks by Emile Lambert be heard in the past fifty years. Keeping the memory of an artist alive should be free from commercial restrictions. And if friends and family won´t care first, nobody will.
Musician, singer-songwriter and conductor Eddie Vartan ( 1937-2001) is the brother of French pop star Sylvie Vartan, father of actor Michael Vartan and uncle of David Hallyday. As a bandleader he was the mastermind behind his sister´s early success. He also composed many songs for her and a dozen titles for his friend and brother-in-law Johnny Hallyday. Eddie, Sylvie and Johnny were certainly at the top of the yé-yé game. They sold a ton of records and the teen magazines were full of their antics. In the early 60s you couln´t be cooler than these three.
Surprisingly though, when I searched for “Eddie Vartan” on Amazon/Itunes/Spotify only one song popped up. Considering the celebrity status of Eddie Vartan and his family, it´s a real shame that his whole solo instrumental works of the 1960s, especially the early twists, have never been reissued in 50 years. If it wasn´t for a handful of people who put his music on Youtube, it could not be heard at all. The two instrumental twist songs from other EPs on the Twist label, the mid-tempo Salut les copines and the hectic S.L.C.Twist, are both similar in style to the tracks I present here. Then there is his version of Telstar in a weird Scopitone film that you´ve got to see to believe. Eddie himself even appears playing the guitar while following a female astronaut, surrounded by his band all dressed in lab coats like a bunch of Joe Meeks. All these songs would sure make a nice Eddie Vartan Twists compilation LP.
Eddie Vartan died in 2001 following a brain hemorrhage in Paris at the age of 64. Shortly after Sylvie Vartan recorded Réponds moi, a wonderful tribute to her brother. Again, it was a fan who made an effort to put the song together with some collected images of Sylvie, Eddie and Johnny.
At least seven EPs by Eddie Vartan were released by the small Twist label, that was distributed by Decca. A bunch of other artists also recorded for the Twist label, but not as many as Eddie Vartan. Of all the Twist label releases, this one has by far the most boring sleeve design. It´s probably because I´m a cartoonist that I feel that all-typo designs look dull. The hand-made Twist logo is cool though. This EP was very cheap, but unfortunately when I got home I discovered that my copy was sun damaged and warped at the sides. Two of the tracks are completely unplayable.
Your Ma said You cried In Your Sleep Tonight was first recorded in by Kenny Dino and reached #24 in the Billboard charts in 1961. Kenny recorded a number of demos for Elvis, including the song Good Luck Charm, so it is no surprise that he is pretty much imitating Elvis on Your Ma said. Compared to Kenny Dino´s original version, Eddie Vartan´s instrumental version is pretty heavy…
One Track Mind was recorded by Bobby Lewis in 1961 on the Beltone label. Eddie Vartan´s instrumental version copies the Sheb Wooley-style sound of a toy saxophone that is also in the Bobby Lewis original.
François Lubiana (1940 – 2011), real name François Biro, was mostly known as the husband of French pop star Jaqueline Boyer. A singer and composer in his own right, Lubiana recorded quite a few EPs for Pathé and Barcley. In the only video I found of him performing live, he can be seen singing the beautiful Les cloches sonnaient in March 1966. He starts into the song, and for some reason not entirely happy with his performance, abruptly stops, excuses himself and then casually continues. Cool. Sadly later that same year he suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage that ended his career abruptly.
Two twist songs by Francois Lubiana strangely appeared on this Romanian EP. I don´t know if they were issued exclusively in Romania, but if they did, I wonder why? The nice mosaic-style sleeve illustration was done by Electrecord house-designer Jean Eugen. The two tracks, both written by Jeff Davis, have not been been reissued in 50 years.
Dedicated to all the crazy girls…
I found another version of Moi Qui on the French Pathé EP on Youtube that sounds like it was re-recorded at a later date. This is a regular twist:
This 45 has been in my possession for quite some time and I never knew anything about it. From looking at the label, Crossfire Records from Southern California seems to have been a tiny regional label with a typical feature being the bold, but very effective hand-made logo. The A-Side was incorrectly printed The Is The Night and then corrected by hand with a pen. The most striking thing was, that I couldn´t really categorize the music. Since I bought it in a Berlin thrift store, it has always puzzled me, but whenever I tried to find some information about Jimmie Goodin or Crossfire Records on the Internet, nothing turned up. Until recently. When I once again casually googled his name, this obituary appeared:
James Wilbert Gooden
February 16th, 1933 – January 20th, 2013
James Wilbert Gooden was born on February 16, 1933, in Columbus Ohio, to Loyes Gooden-Pitman and Tom Pitman.
In 1952 he left Columbus, Ohio and moved to San Diego, CA where he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. When he arrived in San Diego he joined the “Old Jackson Memorial “ Church of God In Christ and was a flag carrier in the dedication of the “Greater Jackson Memorial” Church of God in Christ, under the pasturage of the Late Bishop J.A. Blake Sr.
James united in marriage to Bernice Emery. To this union 6 children were born.
For 40 years he was owner operator of Gooden Janitorial Services. Over this period he employed his children, family members and several friends and taught them all the “meaning of hard work”.
Beyond his Janitorial business he was also a singer in the likes of Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole. He enjoyed singing their specific songs as part of his stage performance in both San Diego and Las Vegas venues. He also recorded 2 records; “This Is The Night” and “Needing Your Love”. He was quietly proud of this God given talent.
In his later years, he was unable to attend church and he found great solace in Television ministry. Some of his favorite ministers included Bishop T.D. Jakes.
James departed this life on Sunday, January 20, 2013.
He leaves to mourn his home going, 3 daughters, 3 sons, 14 grandchildren, 3
sisters and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends to remember his life.
The obituary just mentions this 45, so apparently it was the only one James Gooden ever recorded. The Crossfire label´s biggest claim to fame seems to have been the fact that they distributed the wild garage punk 45 Music b/w Do You Believe Me by Byron and the Mortals on the Xpreshun label. Do You Believe was re-released on Pebbles #9 in 1980 and on Crypt Records Teenage Shutdown Series #4 in 1998. Two more 45s released by the Crossfire label from Lake Elsinore, located halfway in-between Los Angeles and San Diego, can be found on Youtube: Crossfire #105, Roy and Georgia and the So and So´s Devil Get Away From Me b/w Looking Up and Crossfire #106, Leo Senay Livin´Like A Bum b/w Let´s Not Think Of Tomorrow. Both 45s, recorded sometime in the mid-60s, are weird home-grown Hillbilly music.
Jimmie Gooden´s two self-written songs are both great. The A-Side This Is The Night is a saxophone and trumpet driven, up-tempo pop tune. But the B-Side Needing Your Love is truly wonderful! A dramatic flute and cymbals introduce the song, a haunting guitar and trumpet carries it through and James Gooden´s vocals tenderly communicate his desire. It´s all sort of jazz-tinged, especially the Herbie Mann-style flute, and I wonder who´s the backing band. There´s no trace of Todd Sanders & The Naturals anywhere on the Internet yet. Was it this Charles “Todd” Sanders? And who was Edna Grimes, who produced these songs?
I can also only speculate why these beautiful songs have never been reissued in 50 years. Maybe it was because, for something recorded in the mid-60s, This Is The Night sounds very much like it was made in the 50s. The songs fall in-between: they´re not quite pure enough for fans of the 1950s and not groovy enough for the 60s. They´re not Rhythm & Blues, Soul or Jazz. They´re just great pop songs.
In the early 1960s the tiny Bambina label out of Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia produced close to a hundred 45s of cover versions, with the majority of them listing no artist´s names. Why they released nameless records I don´t know. People in the budget business probably thought that teenagers didn´t really care who performed their music or that they wouldn´t be able to tell the difference if there were no names on the labels. On the other hand the budgets knew, that a lot of kids just didn´t have the money to buy the more expensive original versions. The shop owner of one of the second hand shops where I buy records regularly, told me how when he was a a teenager in the early 60s, everybody used to own only a handful of records. Each 45 that was bought was carefully chosen. He especially remembered how obscene he had thought it to be, when one day a friend of his had gotten some money and bought three 45s at the same time! Unbelievable obscene luxury!
Today everybody has thousands of songs on their Ipods and millions of songs can be downloaded on the Internet for free. With all this overload of music I wonder why anyone would buy MP3s or pay for Internet-Radio like Spotify. But at least today nobody would ever have to consider buying second rate versions of current hit songs. The fun part with the music on these budget records is that, because nobody cared about them to begin with, we don´t have to care either. Who knows if these records really exist anyway? Maybe I just erased the names on the labels? Maybe I made it all up? Who can tell? This is the Internet after all, where everything is digital and nothing is real.