This record was digitized and scanned by my good friend Asphalt Tiger. He sent me the files months ago, but I never got around to post them. Now they fit nicely in this little series of Christian records. Thanks Tiger!
Alfred Flury (1934 – 1986) was a roman-catholic chaplain and a songwriter. He recorded a number of records and also wrote books on drug prevention. In 1971 he founded the Kaplan Flury-Stiftung, an organization that is still doing drug prevention work today.
Personally I have tried most drugs, apart from heroin and crack, but found they didn´t do much for me. I feel like I´m too mellow in my regular life, so I have no use for drugs that make me feel even more mellow. The drugs people use to get excited, also disappointed me. I get excited quite easily so I didn´t feel much of a difference. But the most disappointing thing about drugs, were the people I used them with: none of them danced or talked more. They were as boring as ever. On top of that, I always washed the drugs down with a lot of alcohol anyway. Like many artists, I´m mildly manic-depressive. If diagnosed, a doctor would probably subscribe some sort of mood stabilizing drug. A drug to get rid of all excessive emotion and all my source of creativity. I rather do sports.
Hopefully the age of hipsters like Pete Doherty and Amy Whinehouse, who promoted drug use in the past decade, is over. Their excess was probably a reaction to the conservative political atmosphere and general uncertainty at the beginning of this new millennium. It didn´t lead anywhere, but to self-destruction. This said, I think we all need to get high from time to time, to be transported out of ourselves. There must be a reason why humans have always used drugs in shared rituals throughout the centuries. And as boring as it is, the people who get drunk at Oktoberfest do just that. They partake in a collective ritual to get out-of-control. These intoxicated rituals remind us of the fact, that we are collective beings and that each of us is not the center of the universe.
(Alfred Flury together with Josephine Baker)
In the 1960´s religion had not given up on the youth yet. Or rather, some idealistic individuals, like singin´ chaplains and motor-bikin´vicars, had not given up on organized religion yet. Kaplan Flury hit the charts with Lass die kleinen Dinge in 1965. The death of Jimi Hendrix on September 18, 1970 marked a turning point of the 1960´s youth culture. Drugs were no longer a game. Early on Kaplan Flury recognized the growing drug problems in Germany. His credibility helped establish the first drug awareness campaigns and help-programs.
A book (plus CD) about Alfred Flury´s life was published in 2008. More songs can be downloaded on this site dedicated to Kaplan Flury. Jimi, oh Jimi Hendrix was re-issued in 2008 on the excellent Bear Family CD “Hippies, Hasch und Flower Power”. In this song Flury mentiones that he met Jimi Hendrix personally:
“The world intoxicated is a world that collapses rapidly. Jimi Hendrix, I knew you. Maybe I can even understand you. Hopefully the others also understand your ending. Jimi Hendrix – a path that didn´t know its way. Jimi Hendrix – a light that burnt itself. Jimi, Jimi, your dream couldn´t keep up with life. You took a lot of us with you.”
According to this soulful schlager song, the four things that are most important are: having a heart, loving, believing and living. Three of these things, I wholeheartetly agree with:
Kaplan Flury and singer Katja Ebstein are both wearing a sun wheel necklace, the sign of Flury´s NO DRUGS organization. Flury met the Rolling Stones and many other pop stars. I can´t think of a contemporary religious personality (other than the pope), who would meet and know today´s pop stars. Let alone could ever hit the charts…
This is another Christian EP I bought in Switzerland. The group named themselves Gen Rosso (Red Generation) after a red drum set they were given by Chiara Lubich in 1966. Lubich founded the Catholic Focolare Movement in Italy in 1943. It is an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. Since 1966 two hundred people have played in Gen Rosso. Today the group consists of 18 musicians from 10 countries. Of course today they´re a rock-pop-funky-rap-latino-boygroup.
The psychedelic design of this record sleeve was promising but none of the tracks actually are psychedelic. This song has a nice dramatic vibe though and great haunting lyrics.
If I can help someone as I pass along,/ Cheer someone with a word or song,/ Show someone who´s travelling wrong/ My living would not be in vain!
If I can live the way every Christian ought,/ Forgetting myself and the problems I´ve got,/ Living for the others the words he has brought,/ My living would not be in vain!
I know that day will come/ When it´s time to leave,/ To leave this world with its many sorrows behind.
But friends when I leave/ I don´t want you`ll say:/That man left without even paying his way.
No, I want to give my share,/ I want to pay the price with my life.
If I can live the way…
But friends when I leave …
No, I want to give my share…
Now that day has come
and I´ll pay the price with my life!
I bought this Swiss EP in Zurich in the past summer. The record commemorates the International Jesus Festival Of Music held in Lenzburg, Easter 1972. The pop-art-meets-political-collage sleeve caught my eye, but I couldn´t listen to the record in the thrift store. So I had to take a chance. I was expecting the music to be somewhat dry and unfortunately most of these songs actually are, so I didn´t record them. However, the song House Of The Rising Sun by Les Pêcheurs (the fishermen), with lyrics changed to Oh Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn, is quite charming.
Another record I picked up for a dollar in Brattleboro last summer. Little Cindy might be a little more well-known because John Waters put Happy Birthday Jesus on a CD collection of his favourite Christmas songs a couple of years ago. Yes, this is creepy.
Exploiting kids is never a good idea, no matter how talented they may be, especially not in the name of religion. On Happy Birthday Jesus Little Cindy is not even singing but basically just reciting a prayer in a very cute southern voice:
“Happy Birthday, Jesus!, Momma said that you was near, And that you had a birthday, This time every year.
She told me how you listen , To every word we say, And that you hear us calling, In the night … or in the day.
She ’splained how bad they hurt you, those awful naughty men.
But said you let them do it, For girls like me … what sin.
She said about the manger, they took and put you in. I’d let you have my blanket, If I was here back then.
She said that you were watching, Everything we do …
Her, and daddy and Granny, And our new baby, too.
I like what momma told me, Of how you healed the lame. And that they didn’t have to have any wealth, Or fame.
She told you was so awful good, And then she made me cry …
She said they nailed you to the cross, They wanted you to die.
She said that you forgave them, cuz you was dying for our sin. And then it made me happy, when she said you came back again
Momma said that Christmas is what we celebrate
Because on that day you was born.
So I hope I’m not too late, To wish you a Happy Birthday. Dear Jesus, I”ll be true, cuz momma said if I was good you’d let me live with you.”
Anyway, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.
(These illustrationa are from a comic book called Merry Christmas published by Classics Illustrated in 1953/repr.1969)
One final record in this weeks Alcohol & Cigarettes-theme. One that addresses the downside of indulgence.
It would be too easy to make fun of this record. And it wouldn`t be right, because I honestly like it, and because it is after all, a honest record. It makes me cringe listening to it, but I enjoy it.
Uschi Sachse was a alcoholic who sang about the trappings of alcohol and how God saved her. The simple snapshot image on the sleeve is kind of misleading, because Uschi is backed by a full orchestra and chorus. But it remains a simple song with a simple message.
I couldn`t find out anything about Uschi Sachse, but on the insert she thanks a local Berlin church for their “kind reception into their congregation”, so at least we know how the record ended up in Berlin…
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20 1915– October 9, 1973) was a pioneering Gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock accompaniment. She became the first great recording star of Gospel music, first surfacing on the pop charts in 1939 with “This Train”, her version of the traditional gospel standard.
She is probably best known for appearing in a segment of the movie “Amelie”.
I really like her rocking religious music and you should check it out too. These songs are from her own wedding ceremony at Griffith Stadium in Washington,D.C. July 3, 1951. Tharpe was so popular that she attracted 25,000 paying customers to her wedding to her manager Russell Morrison (her third marriage).
Among incredibly strange records, outsider records or whatever you want to call them, religious records have a special place. First because they are not made for commercial reasons, they are the most “hardcore” independent releases. And second because very few of them are good. I buy these kind of records out of curiosity. If I don`t know an artist or label my interest is sparked and for 50 cents I can give a record a chance. Of course a lot of these records are “bad”. That´s why the serious collectors of any genre, who picked through everything before I did, left these records behind. Defining what is “good” or “bad” is a scientific question but the fact is, most religious records are dead boring.
I picked up this record by Günter Tesch before I found his book “Hinter den Kulissen”(Behind the Scenes). On the record you can hear is some slight rocking backing the preaching, but nothing that reveals, that Tesch actually played in a Beat band before he started singing religious songs.
That´s basically the story of the book. He doesn´t say what his group was called ( I guess he played in the Tonics) but he describes the beat scene in Hamburg, the Reeperbahn, the Star Club and the Top Ten in the 60´s quite vividly.
Of course he focuses on the highlights: “Rhythm! Beat! Ecstasy! Colourful impressions of the world of the stage. Swinging and full of suspense. In the language of our times. Free of Illusions and realistic. Meeting celebrated idols, loose girls, tough guys and drug dealers. And then he meets Jesus Christ…”
In the end he sells his Beat outfit, cuts his hair short and destroys all of his records to be free for god. Following Cliff Richard and Little Richard this was a German rocker who converted to god. The result is rather tame but compared to the majority of German religious music of the time this was way ahead.
One other special thing about religious records is of course that the people that make them are believers and want to spread that belief. When I hear Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing it`s so convincing, so inspired I want to be a believer myself. I don`t believe in any kind of god but I respect the belief of others. So many good things are done every day because people believe . What have I done to make this world better?
Pater Leppich on the other hand is outright creepy and scary. He means well and he talks about love a lot, but his voice is harsh and just sounds evil. He is also a really crazy anticommunist. Creepy, crazy and…quite funny!
(Update: Ein von mir auf deutsch geschriebener Text über diese Platte erschien am 14. Januar 2010 in der Wochenzeitung Jungle World, nachzulesen im Internet hier.)