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.
Last Sunday my girlfriend and I had been invited to a friend´s house. In a quiet moment I took the liberty to browse through their record collection and that´s were I found this 45. Apparently I´m not the only one to discover odd privately pressed records from Berlin at flea markets. Generously they lent the record to me to scan and digitize.
A musician needs initiative, self-confidence and courage to publish his own record, even more so, if he´s not really a professional musician, but a fire chief or a car mechanic. Dieter Barth, a Berlin car mechanic who operated his own garage, certainly did´t lack self-confidence. He even had his musical venture endorsed by his business partner. From the late 1970s to 1992, the acronym V.A.G was used by Volkswagen AG as a brand for group-wide activities, such as distribution and leasing. Contrary to popular belief, “V.A.G” had no official meaning, and was never the name of the Volkswagen Group.(Wikipedia) On the back of the sleeve he proudly announced: “Three years ago I have been kissed by a muse and today I would like to present the result. Thanks to all my customers for their long lasting trust “.
I doubt that many Berliners today, would dare to mix their private passion with their business as much, for fear to be ridiculed. Thankfully Dieter Barth was oblivious to such concerns. He was proud to be a singing and songwriting car mechanic and not afraid to laugh about himself.
In “Der Hund an meiner Seite”, he reflects about a dog and his owner:
“When I got him he was small and miserable/ I nurtured him – he got big and bold./ Now he´s big and terribly fierce – my spitting image./ …/ When he looks at me, I sometimes wonder,/ between the two of us, who is the master?/ If I could be the dog for a short time/ I´d pity the poor master.”
“Mein Spreeathen” is Barth´s ode to Berlin, the whole city – east and west.
Heinrich Rietmüller was born in 1921 in Berlin and after studying music, got his first professional job right after the war, playing piano in the Radio Berlin Tanzorchester. On this Amiga recording he can be heard backing the Cornel-Quartett playing the Wurlitzer electric piano.
The song was originally written by Michael Jary for the film “Die dritte von rechts” from 1950, a spectacle picture most notable for Laya Raki´s taped nipples.
Recently I bought a stack of 78 rpm records and have really fallen in love with some of the tunes I “found” on them. They were 50 cents a piece, so they are not in good shape but I still played some of them in our last radio show and even played them at a little DJ Trümmerswing dance recently. The German swing records went over surprisingly well with the dancers.
I know, there are many serious German record collectors out there who know much more about 78rpm records than I do, but then again, there are no German music-bloggers that write about them. So I might as well write what I know.
These records and artists were successful locally, but mostly went unnoticed in the rest of the world. Unless you know German, you will still not find much info about them today. Most of these songs have been re-issued on CD, but I don´t think the quality of my records should hurt anybody´s business. There are fine re-issues of Rita Paul, Peter Cornehlsen & the Cornel-Trio and Ilja Glusgal available. Even the most blatent CD-rip-off-blogs claim it, but in this case I really mean it: if you like these tunes, despite the horrible quality of my recordings, go out and buy the CDs.
“Verlieb´ dich nicht am Nordpol” by Peter Cornehlsen and his Cornel-Trio (also known as the Corni-Trio, Cornel-Quartett, Cornel-Quintett und Coronels) backed by Kurt Henkels and his orchestra, has been one of my new favourites recently. Kurt Henkels was Eastern-Germany´s king of swing. The song was originally written by Michael Jary for the 1951 film “Die verschleierte Maja” (The Veiled Lady), one of the first big (West-) German musical production after the war.
“Don´t fall in love at the North Pole, because it will even freeze hot love!”
German pop music probably never sounded more American than in the years right after WWII. American style swing music was discouraged in Nazi-Germany, surpassing the censors only when disguised as “Deutsche Tanzmusik”. Lots of “German Swing Music” was published in Nazi-Germany, but nothing really wild was recorded until after the war, stuff like Kurt Henkels ultra-fast Swing Heil from 1949. But by the mid-50s the schmaltzy “Heimat music” took over, killed most of the swing music and suger-coated the timid attempts to play rock´n´roll in Germany.
This might not be the really wild and fast type of swing music, but German music never got to be more swingin´ than Ilja Glusgal backed by Walter Dobschinski and his orchestra.
“Without the ke-, ka-, kiss, what would couples do?”
Ilja Glusgal often performed with the Cornel-Trio. Here, backed by Walter Dobschinski and the Tanzkapelle des Berliner Rundfunks, he´s covering Doris Day´s 1951 hit record Lullaby Of Broadway. From the movie of the same title, starring Doris Day and Gene Nelson.
The lyrics in the Doris Day´s version are rather light hearted:
The band begins to go to town/ And everyone goes crazy/ You rock-a-bye your baby round/ ‘Til everything gets hazy/ Hush-a-bye, I’ll buy you this and that/ You hear a daddy saying/ And baby goes home to her flat/ To sleep all day
The German version of the song by Ilja Glusgal tells a differnt story:
In New York at midnight on Broadway/ There´s a sensation on Broadway/ The crowd is captivated, the police is helpless: A naked girl!/ Everybody is shouting: Sweet Baby! Liebling, you´re adorable!/ He wants so protect her and take her home/ She says: “No way, I have to stand here without a dress – I´m advertizing for lingerie!”
Yea, I know the recording sounds awful, but that´s the condition my copy is in…
Today only old people might remember his name, but in the late 40s and early 50s Bully Buhlan was Germany´s most popular pop singer and Berlin´s most famous son.
“Ein Mann mit knarrenden Schuhen” – a man with squeaky shoes – explains why a couple will have a perfect marriage, because the wife will always know when her husband is approaching. The squeaky shoes are really practical, especially when she´s with another man…
Dutch reader Ron suggested I post some of the b-sides. This one I acctually ignored and never listened to, because the title sounded like boring Schlager music. Stupid. The Cornel Trio is almost all swingin´:
From a British “Men Only” magazine from 1952:
Hand drawn lettering and cartoon in this ad:
A while back I posted Rita Paul´s 1949 swinging scat-song “Du hast ja keine Ahnung” on the West-Berlin Regina label, the A-side to “Swing Heil” by Kurt Henkels Tanzorchester. Like Bully Buhlan, who often accompanied her, Rita Paul had recording contracts with both the East-German Amiga label and the West-German Polydor label.
A nice German post-war swing tune, Rita Paul and the Cornel Trio singing: “Your doorbell is not working. So why don´t you try shouting!”
Doorbell? What doorbell? From a 1951 newspaper article: Germany´s biggest problem: building appartements. The family on the picture was still living in the basement below the ruins. The woman is meeting with a man from the housing office. The needy family hopes for a new two-bed appartement with a monthly rent of 23,80 Deutschmarks.