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:
Bill Ramsey´s German cover version Wumba-Tumba Schokoladeneisverkäufer vom andern Stern of Sheb Wooley´s Purple People Eater reached #4 in the German Charts in 1958. On Thursday I found a budget version of that song, released by the Opera label out of Stuttgart, in a nearby thrift store. I had seen a copy of the record on Ebay before, but since I don´t buy stuff on the Internet, I had to wait until I came across it by coincidence. On Ebay it probably wouldn´t have been 50 Cents either.
No info about Trio Sorrento on the Internet but contrary to many budget artist they were a real group, who´s music however did also appear on cheapo labels like Opera, Neckermann and Baccarola. An article in Spiegel from January 1954 about East German restrictions on “decadent” western musical styles, like the Boogie Woogie, also mentions the trio:
On October 6th 1953 four stocky soviet directors ejected Trio Sorrento (formerly with Berlin radio station Rias) from a cultural center in East Berlin, because the group´s musical repertory (“Junge,Junge, Junge”, “Mäcki-Boogie”, “Schaschlik-Boogie”) had caused the attending young workers to applaud demonstratively. (Spiegel, Jan.1954, “Barrieren um Boogie Woogie”)
This version of Wumba-Tumba Schokoladeneisverkäufer vom andern Stern was made to sound almost identical to Ramsey´s version. It´s still quite different, but since I won´t post Bill Ramsey´s version, just take my word for it…
Jody Reynolds song of teenage tragedy Endless Sleep reached #5 in the Billboard Charts in 1958. Reynolds follow-up Fire of Love from the same year, only went to #66, but achieved cult status 25 years later when The Gun Club covered it.
The original German version of Endless Sleep was recorded by the James Brothers (Schlager singers Peter Kraus and Jörg Maria Berg), who were put together to emulate the Everly Brothers. In true budget manner the Opera label producers simply called their brothers the Johnson Brothers.
The two-colored illustration on the back of the sleeve should have been on the front. The drawing is what´s remarkable about this record. Why is the illustration on the back then? I can only imagine how the story must have been, but from my experience as an illustrator, it´s always the same thing. Regular Opera releases only had writing on the back. Because they had two rock´n´roll songs on the record, the record label people must have had the feeling that they should give the teenagers a little more to look at. They liked the commissioned drawing, but still decided against putting it on the cover, because they couldn´t depart from their concept that all their sleeves in this series needed to have the bland purple design!
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.
This flexible disc was produced as a gift to the sellers of the “Dinett” trolley table made by the furniture company Bremshey out of Solingen. Bremshey was a family business that operated from 1862 up to 1982. In 1932 they were the first to mass produce a small folding umbrella they named “Knirps” (scrub). In the mid 50s Bremshey started to produce the rolling folding table “Dinett”.
Besides the subtitle calling the song a “swing classic”, I couldn´t find any mention of a song called “Serenade in Swing” on the Internet. There is however a short music film from 1942 called “Serenade In Swing” starring Jan Savitt and his orchestra, Martha Tilton, Kenny Stevens and the vocal groups Six Hits and A Miss and the Rhythm Rascals.
The first side is a cover version of the instrumental hit record “Wheels” by the String-A-Longs from Texas, interrupted three times (!) by the good wishes of the Bremshey company. Aside: contrary to what is written on the label, Norman Petty, who produced many of Buddy Holly´s records, did not write “Wheels” but only recorded it in his studio in Clovis, New Mexico.
The company that produced this record no longer exists and the label does not even say who played on it or if the songs were even recorded by the same group. All public and commercial interest in it seems to have been abandoned 52 years ago.
And for a good reason. I paid 50 cents for it a couple of weeks ago in a local thrift store and that´s still more than a free giveaway record should be:
The small indies Anitrola, Amulett, Carina and Linda out of Frankfurt all belonged to the same family of labels. Fats and his Cats recorded some rock´n´roll on Linda and Laya Raki did her suggestive twist “Oh Johnny hier nicht parken” on Carina.
This dixieland version of the lullaby “Schlaf Kindchen schlaf ” went to number 30 in the German charts but soon faded into oblivion. So far nobody cared to re-release it in 50 years…
Usually in the summer my girlfriend and I try to spend at least a couple of weeks on vacation somewhere where it´s nice and sunny. This time it was only one week in Zurich. And from every trip I bring back records but my girlfriend really hates thrift stores, flea markets and actually any old junk, so I try to keep the time spent with that to a minimum. Her dislike also shows me what a strange pleasure it is to dig though dark and dusty stores, instead of enjoying the sunny life outside. If it wouldn´t be for her, I´d probably spent my whole vacation getting my hands dirty in old boxes.
Thanks to her we spent the days exploring the city and swimming in the Zurich lake. We also went to see The Jackets, a great Swiss garage band, at the Rote Fabrik and met Lurker Grand, author of Hot Love, the most comprehensive book on the early Swiss punk scene (1976-1980). Hot Love, a coffe-table size book with tons of full-page photos of punk bands, records, flyers and even self-made punk clothing, really is a graphic masterpiece. Lurker is currently working on a follow-up book on the Swiss Post-Punk scene of the 80´s.
The Swiss equivalent to a charity shop is a Brockenhaus. These Brockis are great because, unlike a lot of stuff in Switzerland, they are cheap and, like everything the Swiss people do, very well organised. I always find lots of cool records there. Maybe not the rare punk material that is mentioned in Hot Love, but you can find that at the Good bad Music for bad, bad Times Blog here, here , here and here.
This record is a advertising for the new electrical train up to Uetli mountain, close to Zurich. The Schnaaggi-Schaaggi was the old steam train that operated until 1962. It´s running again in the summer months and I hope to make it up there the next time I visit Zurich.
So, listen to the old steam train and take a Cha-Cha-Cha-Trip with the Schnaaggi-Schaaggi…