In 1966, a local radical leftist theatre group re-invented theatre for children. Despite criticism from the conservative mainstream, the socially conscious plays of Grips theatre became increasingly popular. Kids like me, who grew up in the early 70s, especially loved the bold and very catchy Grips songs, that were mostly written by Volker Ludwig and Birger Heymann.
In the mid-70s Grips also started to write plays for teenagers. Grips produced a number of actors who later became famous. Heinz Hoenig (leaning over the bench, wearing sneakers) played in Die schönste Zeit im Leben, three years later he starred in Das Boot as Maat (Petty Officer) Hinrich.
These are great songs that do not deserve to be forgotten. Unfortunately so far nobody has cared to re-issue them.
( Im November 2013 schrieb ich über diese Platte bereits in der Jungle World den Text Herz, was willst du mehr. )
Found this in the 50 cent bin of a local thrift store recently. Sleeveless, but still in okay condition. Here´s all the information that I could find about this mysterious, completely forgotten group.
- Bert Landers was a Berlin band leader who recorded a great number of records for various German labels, but mainly for the budget Tip. He also recorded under the name of Berth von Landers und sein High Society Orchester. I assume that The Bertlanders-Starband is actually the studio orchestra of Bert Landers in one of its earliest formations.
- The Bertlanders-Starband are: Heinz Wulfestieg – trumpet; Karl Wolfgang Wiesenthal – trumpet; Bert Button – trombone; Dieter Siebert – alto-sax; Volkmar Schmidt – tenor-sax, Detlev Clausen – piano; Joachim Gilow – bass; Kurt Giese – drums
- Alto-Saxophonist Dieter Siebert might be identical with 20th-century classical music composer Wilhelm Dieter Siebert (1931-2011). His Wiki-resume mentions that he played Jazz in the late 50s.
- I further assume that Volkmar Schmidt is saxophonist, clarinetist and orchestra leader of East-German groups Gruppe Schmidt, Schulz & Co., Orchester Volkmar Schmidt and Volkmar Schmidt Combo.
- Drummer Kurt Giese later became a producer for North German radio (NDR) and arranged Chet Baker´s “Last Great Concert” in 1988 in Hannover, two weeks before Baker´s death.
- Trumpet solo on Franz Grothe´s Mitternachts-Blues by Karl Wolfgang “Charley” Wiesenthal.
These four tracks, exclusively recorded by Opera – Europäischer Phonoclub, have not been reissued in 50 years.
Yah-dah! is a nicely up-dated version of one of the earliest Jazz recordings,Yah-de-dah, first recorded in 1917 by the Frisco Jass Band.
The very first record that I posted in 2007 was similar to this one, in that it was also local, political and privately pressed. While the former was anarchist, this is a straight communist record. It was issued to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Freie Deutsche Jugend Westberlins (FDJW), the youth organization of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Westberlins (SEW). The Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin was more or less a Berlin branch of the SED, the governing party of East-Germany.
In short, these cats were West Berlin fans of communist East Germany. After reunification, the party quickly dissolved. Not surprisingly, it was later revealed that East Germany had financed the party with more than 10 million German marks a year. I´m sure none of that money went into the making of this record. It´s got the touch of a genuine DIY project, from the “graphics” on the front sleeve, to the paper of the labels and the lack of any address or copyright. To say this release looks private, is an understatement, it looks clandestine.
Musically both bands are close to the radical leftist Krautrock of fellow locals Lokomotive Kreuzberg and Floh de Cologne (from Cologne). Recorded in 1977, these guys were not into fun stuff like Blitzkrieg Bop or sniffin´glue, but 37 years later their earnest commie rock is a lot funnier than most Berlin punk records of that period…
(Ein kurzer Text über diese Platte erschien am 22. Mai als Folge 242 meiner Berlin Beatet Bestes Kolumne in der Wochenzeitung Jungle World, nachzulesen hier.)
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
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.
In 2007 the Bolle Beatet Bestes flexible 45 inspired the name of this blog. Berlin bietet Bestes means “Berlin offers the best”. The record was issued by Bolle, a local chain of supermarkets. Bolle had a very long history in Berlin. Initially the company developed out of the C. Bolle dairy farm that was established in 1879 by Carl Andreas Julius Bolle. The last store closed in 2011.
There were some other 45s put out by Bolle but these two are the only flexi discs. The Bolle Beatet Bestes flexi from 1967 is the more interesting one. I put the MP3s back up, so check out the songs if you missed the post in 2007.
Until recently I never even thought about buying any of the other Bolle records, because Finnish Yenka and bogus 1960s Dixieland seemed way too boring. I´m not a completist but when I saw this one a while ago for 50 cents, I finally picked it up.
Well, it´s not a particularly noteworthy record, but it definitely is a very local Berlin artifact.
A record by Karl-Heinz Hansen and his friend, cartoonist Hans Joachim Stenzel, was my second post in December 2007. New to blogging and even more to the Internet, I was still a little naive. I didn´t think that anybody would read what I wrote. And at first actually pretty much nobody did. Then in 2009, when I posted a second record by Hansen, a flexible record on the local Okay Exquisit label, I got a little carried away and couldn´t help making fun of the music and the artists. I will not repeat what I wrote, but let´s just say that it wasn´t nice.
A short while later I got a brief but very angry mail from Hansen´s son.
Immediately I apologized and deleted the post and the download links.
Hansen´s son replied forgiving: “No hard feelings”. His teenage nephews had found the post when they were doing ancestry research about their unknown grandpa. He even gave me an okay to to re-up the post and the download link, if I would “trash his father a little less”.
But I was still ashamed. I felt really bad about carelessly writing bad stuff about somebody I didn´t even know. Especially a dead person. Since then I´ve gotten a lot more careful with what I write. And with the records I pick. As odd as they may seem, the records I post here, are records that I like.
So here´s another Karl-Heinz Hansen 45. The two songs, written by Hansen, advertise for Berlin department store Kaufhaus des Westens (“Department Store of the West”, usually abbreviated to KaDeWe, the second-largest department store in Europe; trumped only by Harrods in London.) (Wiki)
Released on the small local Kaskade label, Hansen is backed by the Kaskade-Studio-Ensemble, led by Henry Bly.
Wäsche is undergarmets/lingerie and Miederwaren is corsetry and Manequin is model.
“I´m going to marry the lingerie-model…”
Tina and Karl-Heinz Hansen sing the Tauentzien-Song, about the Tauentzienstrasse, where KaDewe is located…
Im Juni 2010 schrieb ich über Karl-Heinz Hansen in der Jungle World einen kurzen Text: Sei nett im Internet!
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.