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.)
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.
Dan Marshall, the singing fire chief, was born at no. 8 Mining Camp near Farmington, West Virginia. He spent the early part of his life in the hills of West Virginia, where he heard Country-Folk music right from its source. Although moving to Ohio after finishing high school at Weston, West Virginia, his voice still caries the plaintive quality heard only in true Country-Folk music.
When was the last time you were knocked over by an impossibly great and new talent? If you can remember how you dusted your pants off and straightened your tie, then prepare yourself once again for that particular rare moment. Dan Marshall has a way of blowing you over. The first time I saw and heard him I was astonished. His voice is an amazing instrument, in fact, his voice is literally an extension of his body. He is also a gifted actor. Among all of these gifts that he possesses, the one that I have not mentioned, and which may be the most valuable one of all, is his special brand of believability that he seems to put into every song he sings.
Following his military career, he joined the fire department in Columbus, Ohio., where he rose rapidly to the rank of Assistant Fire Chief. Until recently his singing and song writing has been confined to local social events and family entertainment. The unusual folk quality of his voice and the candid stories portrayed in the songs he has written, such as BORN LOSER, caused those who knew him to encourage him into making this recording.
Very few entertainers can be credited with creating this type of music, but the man to which this recording was made possible. did just that.
I consider it a great honor to present the singing Fire Chief, DAN MARSHALL.
John R. Bartlett
Another find from the thrift store excursion two weeks ago. Immediately, when I saw this sleeve, I knew I needed to buy it, regardless of what music would be on the record. The crudely penciled lettering is crying! Now how cool is that. It looks like a punk record! Well, it´s not, it´s even cooler: Dan Marshall is a singing fire chief! How this privately pressed 45 from Amlin, Ohio found it´s way to Berlin-Lichterfelde is beyond me.
I googled this record and couldn´t find anything. And I only made up the date for this record, it could be from anytime in the 70´s. The pants look kinda late 60´s, but that´s just a feeling. I did find a fire chief named Dan Marshall however, this one is from Phoenix, Oregon. There is a similarity between the photo on the back of the sleeve and the photo on the website of the Oregon fire department and they both would fit in the same age group. But I´m not sure it´s the same person. Of course lots of firemen wear mustaches. The Oregon fire chief looks much happier than the man on the record sleeve and I would like to believe that after all, it didn´t turn out to be Dan Marshall´s destiny to be a “born loser.
When I started this blog three years ago my ambition was to explore new territory and to only “publish” material that has never entered the digital world. As much as I like the cool music of fabulous record labels like Bear Family, Charly and Ace, it would be pointless to try to find obscure stuff in their field. They and many other re-issue labels went out of their way to re-discover lost music in the 70´s and 80´s. Posting (“re-releasing”) music that they re-discovered 30 years ago didn´t pose a challenge, so my focus was on material that is still too bad or strange to ever be considered for re-release by a proper record label. Music that seems to have no commercial value today: private pressings, advertisement records or just plain weird stuff. Mostly no rockabilly, rock´n´roll, garage or soul music. No cult stuff.
Over time I have gotten less strict about my posting policies because I felt that maybe people would like to listen to more “good” music and also posted single songs (albeit digitized from my original 45´s) that had previously been re-released. Basically I turned into a DJ again, something I wanted to get away from when I started this blog.
I also got softer, because nobody else seems to care about any kind of “music blogging ethics” anyway. Blogs are the new Napster and I´m in the same boat if I like it or not. Posting material that I do not hold a copyright of, no matter how obscure it might be, is just as illegal as posting a brand new CD.
Still so far I have only gotten supportive feedback from people involved with some of the records I posted. Some even said, that they´re glad I did, because they never had a digital version of their music. A lot of artist don´t hold the copyrights to their own music anyway and are simply glad that somebody cares enough to put it out there. Unless they were cult artists or played a cult style a re-release of their music is very unlikely. I don´t really care about the legal issues, but to make it a little more exciting for me again and to get a better conscience about blogging, I will return to my initial restrictive guidelines. So expect a lot of bad records to be coming in the future…
This private pressing of the Perfid´s from Zürich, Switzerland is one such record that has never been re-released. It most probably would have, if it was in a cult style like punk or metal, but it is neither and both. Not metal enough to be metal and not punk enough to be punk. That said, it´s not a bad record at all, in fact I like it a lot. The cool thing is that they sing in a Swiss dialect that I can only understand partially, like the intro to their theme song that states that they started the group in January 1981. Besides that, I don´t know anything about this group simply because there is nothing to be found about them on the internet. Check for yourself: if you´ll search for them, you´ll find this post.
If there ever was an incredibly strange German record, this is it. Last week it had my friends, at the small pizza place where we get together every Tuesday to hang out and spin records, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Nevertheless this is a very brave private pressing and I´m not going to make fun of it. This record is much more courageous than any Punk record I own and I own thousands.
The record looks and sounds like it was recorded around 1990. Anytime from 1988 to 1992 is my guess. Der Wirklichkeit entrückt ( I´m detached from reality) is about a forbidden love but doesn´t go into detail why it is. Wir zwei (the two of us) is another love song where again both lovers are “detached from reality”.
I really like this record. It makes me happy. I guess because I´m also quite “detached from reality”…
“Paul the Saxon” is singing sleazy songs in an awful fake saxon dialect. Striptease Paula is simply describing the stripteasing Paula. The b-side Wunschtraum eines Halbstarken ( A Teenagers Pipe Dream) is equally sleazy.
Sounds pretty bad, so why have I collected three versions of this record? Because I am a collector and sometimes I collect out of habit, like, oh, I´ve got one of these, so I see another version of it in a thrift store and I buy it and then I´ll find a third version and I just can´t let it pass either and besides that these are pretty odd privately pressed German adult records.
They are just not good records…
This red label pressing seems to be the same guy as Hans der Sachse but in a previous recording. But who knows…
These pressings have the titles stamped onto the white labels. Sounds like yet another version. Wunschtraum is pretty scratched up…