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:
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.
Cigarettes and Summertime! They work well together. Sitting outside enjoying the sun, the body bursting with energy, there´s nothing like inhaling and wasting some of that excess power. And then there´s still beer and lemonade…
Gorden – So frisch wie das Leben von heute
Rauchen sie gorden! Machen Sie mit – tanzen sie den gorden-hit!
A while back I found some more flexible 45s by Kid Orbis, alias Wolf Gabbe. Although my other posts of his music, like his swingin Nutcracker Suite, have left even the small remainder of readers unfazed, I have to do what I have to do. I dig Kid Orbis´ take on Antonín Dvořák. Sure, Jumpin with Anthony Dvorak could be more jumpin´ but it´s still a nice little tune. Kid Orbis recorded specially for Delta-Ton out of Düsseldorf-Büderich. But Delta Ton also took over material from real labels.
J.P.´s Blues by James Williard Parks and the Bucktown-Six first appeared on an EP of the same title on the German Climax label, a small jazz specialty label. Written by J.W. Parks, an Afro-American US-soldier stationed in Wiesbaden. J.P.´s Blues is probably the most authentic sounding blues song recorded in Germany in the 1950s. It was recorded on February 22nd 1957 in the Robert-Schumann-Saal in Düsseldorf.
The line-up features: J.W.Parks, voc; Dietrich Geldern, cl; Manfred Stapput, tp,voc; Herbert Koleczek, p; Dieter Kauffmann, bj; Hermey Kopp, dm and Heino Ribbert, b.
(Cover image from the 45cat website)
Judging from the front sleeve of the Climax EP J.W. Parks must have been a sight to behold in Germany at the time. His flashy getup was certainly in contrast to that of most German jazz musicians and Pop stars.
“WTF! Are you kiddin´”? That´s what I thought today when I heard this song for the first time. But somehow it also made perfect sense. So much sense that I wondered if I had ever really listened to the original version of Red River Rock. I mean really really LISTENED closely. Because on this version, the famous melody is played on a Blockflöte - a recorder. And it just sounds right. Was that a recorder, that I had never noticed, in the original version, too? This little school kid instrument? I actually immediately went to check…
Of course in the Johnny and the Hurricanes version its a Hammond organ! Played by Paul Tesluk on a Hammond Chord Organ. Pfff, I was worried there for a short time…
On this German flexible budget 45 the recorder, according to the label played by a certain Fred Brass, aptly mimics a Hammond organ. Sweet!
The other side is Dixieland. German budget Dixieland and I´m pretty confident, that the people who recorded this song and the people who bought the record didn´t have any idea what they were playing and listening to. In the 50s Germany was just too far away from Dixie. Nevertheless this version is not even so bad. It´s a pretty carefree trad-style jazz song, including nice trumpet, clarinet, banjo, saxophone, even a short drum solo! There is a lot of music out there that is way worse…
I don´t know anything about the Heinerle label, but I´ve noticed that it had a knack for recording original material along with the typical budget versions of hit songs. Limehouse Dixie is credited to M. Bender and Moro, whoever they are, and doesn´t sound like Limehouse Blues, the jazz standard. So maybe it was a Heinerle original:
In Motril is a silly song (poem?). It´s got nothing to do with the Spanish town of Motril on the Mediterranian coast. Tommy Stone is a pseudonym and I don´t know who he is behind it, but I´ve written about Kid Orbis before. This is what I wrote:
The name Kid Orbis can be found on quite a few cheapo releases on various German labels like Delta-Ton, Opera, Tip Top and Universumin. Likely chosen to sound like legendary jazz trombonist Kid Ory, the man behind the pseudonym Kid Orbis was actually Wolfgang “Wolf” Gabbe. According to Wikipedia Wolf Gabbe, born April 28, 1924 in Berlin, first worked as an auto-mechanic before taking evening classes to become a drummer. After 1945 he started to play in swing and dance bands and made his first recording for the East-German Amiga label in 1948. Gabbe´s “Radio-Star-Band” remained a fixture in Berlin into the 60s. By the way, you might want to check out another Wolf Gabbe advertisement record that I posted some years ago here: “Hully-Gully-TÖFF-TÖFF” released in 1961 on the local Rondo-Exquisit label.
Getting bored already? I am. Yea, that how it is sometimes… I start out with one cool song and then I add all the others that I have by that artist/label and they just are not as good. “Our love awakened tonight at the Rio Grande…” Yawn…
Perfect if you´re from somewhere on the other side of the world and are really curious about German Schlager music. And for some reason you´ve never heard the original version of Kriminaltango. Or you like Tango. Or Criminal stories.
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…
Two weeks ago I found this transparent flexible 10″ record in an antique book store. The material the record is made of seems to be some sort of plastic, that is much lighter than shellac. On this home recording a certain Nina Winter is reading a poem in celebration of her friend Maria “Mitzi” Lichtenegger passing her driving test on October 25, 1941 at the driving school Suchanka in Mariahilf, Vienna. The rhymes reveal that Mitzi´s husband had already passed the test before her and that her driving instructor Mr. Fischer, though a rigorous and earnest man, was quite pleased with her. That´s about all the personal information I could gather from the record.
It´s a glimpse into the private lives of ordinary people in war time Vienna. While millions were expelled, killed and put into concentration camps, others were obviously still passing the time with making their drivers licenses, writing poems about it and then even having them recorded….
With this short little rock´n´roll song I´d like to celebrate the birth of my “new” blog! Just saw this hanging on the wall of a antique bookstore in my neighborhood last week and took it home for a measly 2 euros and fifty cents.
By coincidence it exemplifies the sort of copyright friendly material I was writing about in #2 of the blog ethics. The cardboard record was issued by a defunct “record company” and recorded by anonymous artists. There is no mention of copyright anywhere on the card either and it is definitely more than fifty years old, because it runs on 78 rpm, a format discontinued in most western countries by 1960.
The perfect birthday song for rockin´and rollin´teenagers! And old geezers too…
“Hep-Heppy Birthday to you!”
“Hep-Heppy Birthday to you!”
You ain´t no square! And I know that!
Let down your hair! You´re the coolest cat!
Push back the chairs! Get yer carpet rolled!
Just ROCK!. . . . . And you´ll never grow old!