This 45 is fitting easily into the concept of this blog. It´s a privately pressed EP, that has never been reissued in 40 years, of four jazz tunes, recorded live at a furniture store in 1973, on the occasion of a design-exhibition.
The fact that this 45 is a promotional item makes it seem musically inferior to a proper jazz release, but it´s far from that. Band leader and pianist Hans-Jürgen “Specht” Bock (1939-2006), bassist Klaus Schulze and drummer Slick Salzer were already seasoned jazzmen when they recorded these songs. Everything is excellent here, even down to the graphics, credited on the front to a certain hace. I especially dig the label design that doesn´t imply “furniture store”.
The Ragtime Specht Groove recorded five albums. For this EP they cover Jelly Roll Morton´s “Grandpa Spells”, Tom Delaney´s “Absent Minded Blues”, first recorded by the Dutch Swing College Band, and “Numbers Boogie” recorded by Sugar Chile Robinson. My favorite of this batch is Ragtime Specht Groove´s own original tune “Gisa”. I especially love the part when they go to a minor scale in the middle of the song and the bassist changes from playing with the fingers to a bow, Jimmy Blanton-style. And then suddenly they pick up the tempo again!
These Stuttgart cats sure were groovin´…
This primitively packaged, one-sided flexi was a give-away for the customers of Edeka, Germany´s largest supermarket corporation.
Hamburg bandleader Erich Sendel (1917-1988) and his gang did their job, got paid and then immediately forgot about their creation. And everyone else with them. Nobody heard the happy little marching tune again, nobody missed it. For half a century this little genie has been locked up tight in a bottle.
So, here it is… finally released.
No longer lost in the supermarket…
As you might have noticed, I´ve been absent from this blog for a while. No specific reason, I just lost the weekly rhthm to post stuff and then had other things on my mind over the summer. But of course I kept buying records! I´ve got a whole box of stuff that I will post in the coming weeks. Before I do that, I´ll post a couple of records that were ready to post before I went on hiatus, this one is from May. Another reason I stopped posting was that I thought that the records on my wait list weren´t exciting enough. Actually they´re not better or worse than anything I ever posted before. This one fits the bill: It´s not available in digital format elsewhere, the artist hasn´t been active for decades, and 50 years after it was recorded, I feel it´s fair to present it.
This one-sided flexible disc was made for the German Indanthren trademark association. Indanthren, or Indanthrone, is both a type of organic dye and a brand name. The featured vocalist Ruth Fischer recorded about twenty sides for Electrola in the late 50s and early 60s. Accordingly the Electrola-Tanzorchester is also backing her on this swinging promotional song. While the arrangement is top-notch, the lyrics rather clumsily link teenage desire to the product:
You are still too young for me. Your mustache looks wimpy, so stop bragging (…) I´ll be seventeen next year and I know what I want (…) What do you have to offer, besides big talk and blue jeans? (…) I want a manly, smart and true guy. A man as true and and “light fast” as Indanthren…
Hazy Osterwald, the undisputed King of Swiss pop and jazz music, died in 2012 at the age of 90. Without ever trying very hard, even I have collected a bunch of his records. This promotional record, made for a brand of men’s safety razors, has never been reissued.
For obvious reasons….
In 1957 Dutch singer Corry Brokken won the second European Song Contest, the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Europénne. While she is mostly known for her smooth pop ballads, her career got started when she recorded the swingin´ Auto-Scooter´s-Boogie with Albert Van Hoogten´s small indie Ronnex in 1955. Now Ronnex was a hip label, from putting out Bill Haley´s pre-rock´n´roll sides, to Jack Hammer´s crazy twists, to the fuzzed-out beat of the Shake Spears. In the mid-1950s Albert sent his brother, Rene Jan van Hoogten, to the United States to set up a label there. Rene later changed his name to Ray Maxwell, started Moonglow Records, recorded a bunch of very cool rockin´records and eventually discovered the Righteous Brothers.
To celebrate tonight´s 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest, here´s a one-sided flexible 45, recorded by Corry Brokken and her Hi-Fives for BP in the early 1960s
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?
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.
In Germany being on time still means a lot. Friends still make appointments like: “Let´s meet next Friday at the big oak tree next to the railroad station at 21:45.” And then they show up at that exact minute! Likewise Germans take the reliability of public service, like the railway system, for granted. Understandably, if something goes wrong, it´s a huge disappointment,
Recently Deutsche Bahn made national headlines once again when the train station in Mainz (a city of more than 200.000 inhabitants) had to partly shut down due to most of the station´s traffic controllers being ill or on vacation. A couple of days of irregular service were called “chaos”, “crisis” and “a scandal” and caused a huge public outcry.
Here´s a look back to the past, when German trains were a lot slower but always reliable. This one-sided flexible advertisement record, made by Bundesbahn (the predecessor of Deutsche Bahn) and recorded by anonymous artists in 1966, glorifies the service, punctuality and speed of the railroad.
“Fahr lieber mit der Bundesbahn” – Take the train instead!
Here´s the film that went with the campaign in 1966: