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:
Of course the name of the group that is playing on this record is not Superventas Starlux, although I do think that would be a cool band name. Starlux was a Spanish company that produced a variety of food products, particularly soups and stock cubes. In the late 60s they issued some records for promotional purposes, that were so clearly throwaway products, that the Starlux people didn´t even bother to put names to the recording artists. They should have been a little more foresighted. Apparently the Starlux brand still exists. But the company is long gone and nothing commemorates its existence. The only things that do – because they are still being used today – are these 45s.
I bought this record last year in Barcelona for the same reason I´ve been picking up other second or third rate budget records. I always hope to be surprised, because there is that rare moment, when a cheapo version of a hit song actually is interesting to hear for the first time. Pata Pata was Miriam Makeba´s biggest hit record from 1967. This Spanish uptempo beat version does sound pretty cool. It even has a nice guitar break.
The Spanish version of Wilson Pickett´s Deborah is not so bad either…
Three years ago I wouln´t have looked twice at a Dixieland record. But then I found some Dixieland/Trad Jazz 45s from the early 50s to early 60s and started to like them. So far I haven´t met anyone who shares this interest and so far nobody snatches those 50 cents records up before I do. But it also means no communication. Punk, garage, indie or 70s rock record collectors still talk music in record shops all the time, but not Jazz fans. There might be some Dixieland fans out there, but they don´t hang out in record stores and probably just buy CDs on Amazon. But that´s all fine with me. When I buy 45s by Edmond Hall, Bunk Johnson, George Lewis or Sidney Bechet, I do it unsupervised and without any competition by other collectors. Right now Dixieland means worthless. Nobody seems to care for this stuff and that goes double for 1950s Traditional Jazz groups from Europe and triple for anything that only loosely had the Dixieland tag attached to.
Like this record by Hettlage-All-Stars. Hettlage, founded in 1896, was a German clothing retail company that went bankrupt in 2004. In the 50s, when they were still doing good business and operated a number of clothing stores, they chose teenager´s favorite product, the 7″ record, to advertize their new Twenty clothing line for teenagers. They could have put some Rock´n´Roll or simply Schlager songs on the record but they decided to put two Jazz hits on a very thin piece of plastic and to make the package look a little cooler, opted for a thick cardboard sleeve and a design that incorporated an abstract painted for a background, some stylized musical instruments and a silhouette of a trumpet player on the label, that is reminiscent of the logo that David Stone Martin designed for Noman Granz Clef label.
Manhattan Spiritual was a hit for Reg Owen and his orchestra in 1959, which peaked at #10 in the Billboard Hot 100. Whereas Reg Owens original Big Band Swing version had a bold brass section, the Hettlage All-Stars small combo version makes quite effective use of piano and clarinet improvisations. Not bad at all for an anonymous band playing on a flexible throw-away advertisement record…
The models (Heinz Feldhaus, who is holding the Hettlage All-Stars record sleeve, and actor Margita Scherr) are standing in front of an air-brushed record rack holding funny looking cell phones to their ears…
Flexi discs were mostly made for a purpose and once they served that purpose, they were then promptly disposed of. Unlike records by well-known artists, these records were quickly forgotten and lost in the collective memory.
This particular flexible record advertized for a brand of acrylic paint produced by the defunct Brander Farbwerke out of Bochum-Gerthe. The first song Wer Indurin probiert... is pure advertisement. However, the simple and homemade manner in which Erich Böttcher is asking the listener to test Indurin acrylic paint is strangely endearing:
Usually this song would be enough to serve the purpose. Somehow though, Böttcher managed to fill the other side of the record with almost four minutes of half-improvised Hammond organ playing on his self-written instrumental Frechdachs (rascal):
I´ve had this flexible 7″ record long before I discovered that Erich Böttcher was also featured on another record I had in my possession. The compilation Vorhang auf – umblättern – Nichts für zarte Seelen (not for the faint of heart) featured mostly risqué material by Gisela Jonas, Inge Brandenburg and Mady Rahl and was geared at adults. Again the purpose of the record seems to have condemned it. By the 1970s tastes had changed and these type of songs were considered old fashioned. Böttcher recorded at least two LPs together with Jens Brenke, a comedian and owner of the Hannover cellar bar Jenseits (in German: The Afterlife) from 1960 to 1980. Both records (Nachtlokal frei Haus, 1962 and Die Mitternachtsplatte, 1964) were live recordings from the bar. Another Böttcher LP was the saucy Sexpresso bitte! A couple of tracks of the Nachtlokal Lp also appeared on the compilation Nichts für zarte Seelen :
For some time Erich Böttcher lived and worked in Hannover, Northern Germany, before going to the southern small town of Bad Mergentheim, near Würzburg, where his Sexpresso bitte – Live at Café Helén LP was recorded. But apart from those few recordings I couldn´t find any information about Erich Böttcher, his career or his life. Were did he live? Did he continue to perform and record? Or did he start another profession? What happened to Erich Böttcher? None of his songs have ever been reissued. All of this happened long before the Internet, so there´s no trace of him. No clue either, who the nameless cartoonist is, who did these cute little drawings:
What the heck, here´s three more songs from the Nichts für zarte Seelen LP. The rest of the tracks are crap but these I like. Not surprisingly none of them have made it into the digital age. Until now…
Elfie Pertramer (1924 – 2011) was an actress from Munich, Bavaria who played in Heimatfilmen but also did some cabaret. Apparently this odd little tune was never issued as a single and only appeared on this LP. Elfie Pertramer is singing seductively in a cabaret style:
Hugo Strasser, born in Munich in 1922, started playing the clarinet in Max Greger´s group in 1949. He put together his first own big band in 1955 and became a fixture in German entertainment for decades. Strasser still performs occasionally.
Last month Berlin Beatet Bestes got to be five years old. Since I´ve started a lot of things have changed in the digital world that seem to have made music blogs less relevant. Facebook and Spotify have made it much easier and faster to communicate about music and records and at the same time streaming has made MP3s somehow less valued, while the rights to distribute them are still being fought over fiercely. Following this changeover a lot of great blogs have disappeared or gone on hiatus this year. Nevertheless I think singular autonomous spaces like this one are still valid. While the means to communicate about music have multiplied, the musical focus and quality of the communication seems to have narrowed. The chit chat on Facebook and Youtube does not compare to a well thought-out piece about music. So I intend to keep going, maybe not at the fastest pace and without journalistic aspirations but I don´t see why I should stop, when I still enjoy doing it. I´m still collecting records, I still have hundreds of 45s worth posting and I don´t see any other space where I would have the same kind of freedom to create. And where else would I be able show this little oddity?
This nicely designed record was made to advertize hot Cuban artists like Lourdes Gil, Elena Burke and Pacho Alonso from 1969/1970 of the Areito label, a sub label of the state owned Egrem label. So not only is this a commercial, it is also a holiday record. Keep in mind that communist regimes always tried to neglect the Christian origin of Christmas albeit not very successfully. So here´s my little Christmas greeting to all of you who keep coming back here to my irrelevant records. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Berlin via Cuba.
Felicidades, Amigo! Greetings, friend! Meilleurs voeux, ami! Frohes Weihnachtsfest! поздровляем вac дoрoroй друr! Auguri amici!
In 1945 Germany was in ruins, but not only the buildings were damaged, the people were damaged too from living – and most of them also actively taking part – in a dictatorship for twelve years. Germany´s pop culture elite had largely been murdered or forced to leave the country. The international flair of Berlin before 1933 was gone. Germany was stewing in it´s own juices.
In the 1950s artists from abroad that made Germany their new home like Bill Ramsey, Chris Howland, Caterina Valente, Mona Baptiste, Billy Mo and Roberto Blanco contributed greatly to rebuild German pop culture. They brought a much-needed light-hardheartedness and international quality that was missing from most of the artists who grew up in Nazi Germany.
Bill Ramsey, born 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio, came to Germany in the early 50s serving in the U.S. Air Force. While performing in clubs, among them the Jazzkeller in Frankfurt, he was discovered by an employee of AFN to entertain the troops. Ramsey got his first contract with Polydor in 1958, which started his long career in Germany. In the late 50s he recorded a string of great goofy schlager songs, including German versions of Purple People Eater and Banned In Boston.
By the mid-60s he finally managed to settle in the jazz field, where he has remained ever since. One of my favorite early Bill Ramsey jazz outings was an excellent jazz EP backed by Paul Kuhn and his trio, that was recorded by the Czech Supraphon label in 1966. Bear Family Records has reissued it on their Caldonia CD, of all-live Bill Ramsey material.
So, after advertising the advantages of polyester, here´s a tune celebrating the comfort of cotton. Naturally it feels much smoother. Recorded in the late 60s, the two tracks – or rather one long track split into two – are a combination of Bill Ramsey´s earlier and later work. The commissioned advertisement song mixes some funny German lyrics with a bit of soul, beat and a Herbie Mann-flute.
It´s a rare successful blend of money meets art:
BILLRAMSEY AND THE COTTON-PICKERS, Cottonova-Song von den drei glücklichen Menschen, Side 1
BILLRAMSEY AND THE COTTON-PICKERS, Cottonova-Song von den drei glücklichen Menschen, Side 2
Synthetic fabric was all the rage in the late 50s/early 60s because it didn´t wrinkle and didn´t need ironing. It was also much cheaper to produce than cotton. But a side effect was that the clothes also prevented the air from circulating and then they started to smell faster and feel itchy. Well, maybe the fashion wasn´t fully developed yet. Today trying to find synthetic clothes from the 1950s is much harder than finding flexible vinyl advertisement records from the same time.
Now it is considered to be an advancement to make rooms air-tight, thinking it will save energy and reduce costs. Air-tight trains are supposed to save energy and go much faster. I loved to travel by train, when they still had small compartments with windows you could pull down for fresh air and of course somewhere to smoke. Now that was comfortable. Today, I refuse to take the train for travels longer than two hours. I wanna get it over with as quickly as possible and take the plane, which is wasting much more energy.
Same with today´s air-tight apartments. Our house it one hundred years old with old-style double glass windows. Some slight breeze that creeps though the cracks always keeps the air circulating. When I´m staying in a modern apartment or a hotel, I always get a feeling of suffocating at night. Instead of saving energy, I wind up sleeping with an open window. Of course with full-blown heating.
Ah, modern times…
So here´s a song celebrating the advantages of polyester:
DIE VIER CRAVATTOS
Eine kleine Fachplauderei