I´m currently on a visit to Brussels together with the staff of Jungle World. Yesterday I bought this EP at a second-hand record store. I did not record the A-side Théo-Party, because I do not understand it. It´s a spoken-word piece by Belgian comedian Stéphane Steeman imitating Belgian Christian-Democrat politician Théo Lefèvre.
The political satire extends to the pseudonyms of the bands: Alex Trémiste et ses Meneurs (Al Extremist and his leaders) and Fred Eralist et ses Fanfare (Fedearalist and his fanfare) . Likely the actual band leader behind those aliases was Belgian musician and composer Jack Say ,who co-wote the songs with Stéphane Steeman.
I like the two songs on the flip. No release date given, but sometime between 1962 and 1964 – when Théo Lefèvre was Prime Minister of Belgium. Le Temps Du Ja-Ja has the subtitle: Le twist du Brugois – The Bruges Twist.
Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle, Vitamin A, Stromspere and Ixtoc-1 were part of the scene of the first Berlin DIY punk venue KZ 36 (36 – old zip code of Kreuzberg, KZ short for “Kulturzentrum”). In its short existence between 1980 and 1982, Karl Walterbach – a guy ten years older than most of the teenage punks of the collective – managed to release two KZ 36 albums that documented the bands from that scene. Volume II also features RZSK, Vitamin A, Stromsperre and Ixtoc-1. Walterbach later capitalized on the booming German amateur-punk movement through his label Aggressive Rockproduktionen. Tired of being exploited, the four bands took a radical anti-commercial stance and formed their own collective – VISA-Tonkooperative (Vitamin A, Ixtoc-1, Stromsperre and initially Actosin Pervers. When they broke up, Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle stepped in). In 1982, they put out this political DIY punk record.
The complete works of Stromsperre and Vitamin A have been re-released on vinyl in the early 2000s by the Berlin punks of Rotten Totten Records. Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle and Ixtoc-1 have not been re-released. After more than 30 years, I think it´s time to take a closer look.
Like many other punk bands, members of Stromsperrre and Vitamin A grew up in Berlin-Gropiusstadt, the high-rise ghetto made famous by Christiane F. It still makes my mind boggle, how politicized these ghetto-teenagers were. Nurtured by Social-Democrat politics, leftist teachers and the very visible 1970s radical movement of Berlin, these guys were decidedly brave and idealistic. In the 1980s, the conservative backlash changed German society. In general, working class kids were no longer encouraged to get higher education. Today, this type of politicized working-class teenager has vanished. In fact, teenagers today don´t seem to claim any identity of their own. When I became a Teddy Boy and later discovered Hardcore-Punk, I was 14 and 16. We were all just kids. Working class kids met with rich kids through youth-subcultures. Today´s kids mostly stay were they were put by their parents. I´m stressing the word “kids”, because you can hear it on the record. Beside all the serious politics there´s a lot of goofy kids stuff on this record.
Like this short a capella introduction by Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle:
Metamorphose should have been a hit. The saxophone gives it a post-punk feel, but it is also a political song full of bitter sarcasm:
“Soon we´ll be at the end/ Of the great experiment/ We´ll love the taste of gasoline/ We´ll need exhaust fume to breathe/ Onward, onward to the next step of metamorphosis”
Despite their silly and misleading name, Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle were the most musically and lyrically ambitious of the four bands. Their songs Clockwork (Uhrwerk) and Softanimals are also the only non-topical songs.
“People are scared/ Afraid to walk the streets/ I´m a colourful rocking horse/ And I´ll lend you my super-ego/ I wear a red striped shirt/ And I´m eating mom´s mail”
Softanimals is a direct translation of the German “Weichtiere”, so called Mollusca – spineless animals like snails, clams and octopuses. A funny song on a serious topic:
“Soft animlas have a hard life/…/ That´s why everbody wants to be hard and angular”
Another goofy bit by RZSK. You can hear that these guys are not some West-German small town transplants, but local Berlin teenagers.
The door is locked. Their buddy “Duffy” is sent to get a key….
Ixtoc-1 named themselves after a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on 3 June 1979, shortly before they were forming. Again, despite its clever political implications, Ixtoc-1 was not a good choice for a punk band name. Ölpest (Oil Spill) would have been better. Or Katastrophe. Or Blowout. The band also recorded the 12″ Gut ist was modern ist in 1982, that was more refined and progressive, while still largely remaining punk. Why Do Things Have To Change blog posted it in February and you can get it here. The early Ixtoc-1 is a great mix of political and goofy:
Staat (The State) is an anarchist song:
“Greed rules the world/ Anything and anybody is for sale/Corruption in politics/ People want to govern people/ That´s what they call democracy/ I hardly ever works/ The good thing about the state is/ Death!”
Von oben (From The Top) is another anarchist song:
“What´s you life worth?/ Do you have the right to exist?/From the top / They want to control you/ You´re not supposed to think”
Teenage Love is a song about masturbation.
Teenager indeed! Very young looking Ixtoc-1 vocalist Harald Gantzberg on the cover of a book about punk (Last Exit. Punk, Leben im toten Herz der Städte, Rowohlt 1982).
By coincidence, I found a profile and a photo of Ixtoc-1 in a Berlin rock music guide (Rock City Berlin – Das aktuelle Handbuch der Berliner Szene, 1985), that I bought some years ago in a local second-hand book store. By then, vocalist Harald Gantzberg had left the band. Incidentally, today Harald works as an editor in the comic book field! The line-up was Mathias Klötzke, bass: Lutz Werner, drums; Christian Werner, guitar. In 1984 the group was among the top-20 at the annual Senats-Rock-Wettbewerb, a government-funded battle of the bands. “Our music is a combination of entertainment and modesty. We´ve known each other since elementary school.”
Ixtoc-1 broke up in 1985.
Discogs says that the booklet that came with the LP has 18-pages, Sadly, mine is missing 6 pages. Stromsperre contributes a lot of small type anarchist writing. Their slogan is: “Musik als Waffe” – Music as a Weapon.
In May, I bought this flexi disc at a flea market in Istanbul. It wasn´t really cheap but I didn´t mind. I was on vacation and wasn´t going to pass on a 10″ flexi disc that runs on 78RPM. When I saw it, I immediately though: “blog!” But I didn´t listen to it until I got home. Then I did a little online research.
The record has Cold War written all over it. At the time of its release, Turkey was a buffer zone against the Soviet empire. Tens of thousands of these propaganda flexis – recorded and pressed in the Unites States by Voice Of America – were given away for free. From the feeling and graphics of the flexi, I´d guess in the midlle of the 1950s. It takes us back to the Turkey of films like From Russia With Love (1963) and Topkapi (1964), a country in-between modernism and tradition. Only, this record is not dramatized fiction, but real.
Celal İnce, born in 1921, was the king of Turkish tango in the 40s and 50s. In the in the late 50s he immigrated to the US and has lived in Chicago ever since. İnce was in the wine business for forty years and now, aged 95, is still working as an executive wine consultant. Recently Celal İnce´s Sana Nerden Gönül Verdim was featured on „Istanbul Tango 1927-1953“, the fourth volume of the German CD compilation series Old World Tangos. The series is illustrated by none other than Berlin underground cartoonist and fine art painter Guido Sieber.
In the anthemic marching song Dostluk Şarkısı, Celal İnce praises the friendship of Turkey and the United States: “We were blood brothers in Korea/Our determination is to live free , to ensure peace in the world”. It might be full of pathos and propaganda, but I can think of worse causes. The Voice Of America probably did more damage to dictatorships by broadcasting Jazz music to Eastern Europe, than all the missiles they planted near the borders.
Whatever, it´s still only a pop song…
The flip features some words by Namik Kemal on Turkish history and quotes of Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Ziya Gökalp.
Some footage of the old Yeşilköy Airport, now Istanbul Atatürk International Airport, from From Russia With Love (1963)
Footage of Istanbul street life in 1964 from Topkapi (1964):
I bought some more Akbaba magazines while I was in Istanbul. This issue from March 3rd 1962, depicting US-sailors in Turkey, seems to tie in with the above record. The bold nudity is surprising for an Islamic country. The sexism and racism are not. This type of cartooning was pretty common in the 50s and early 60s all over the world.
The cover and the next two cartoons are by Necmi Riza. The cartoon below is about the Turkish Coup d´etat that took place on May 27, 1960. The politician is waiting for the military to kick his ass.i
This one is obviously about Elisabeth Taylor standing with her lawyer in court.
This issue also has this cartoon by Yurdaer Kalayci.
Yazisiz means “Without words”.
More Turkish Pop with a latin twist from the early 60s by Sevket Uğurluer. Both songs have apparently never been commercially re-released. Gözleri Aşka Gülen, a schmaltzy tune originally written by Gundogdu Duran, is given a modern reworking by Ugurluer and Friends.
The song starts with English and then turns to Turkish lyrics in the second half.
Turkish Bossa Nova…
You is pure 60s US-Teen Pop…
I couldn´t find any period photos of Şevket Uğurluer and his band. Instead, I´ll post some images from one of the Akbaba (vulture) satire magazine that I bought in Istanbul this year. This issue is from June 1962. There is no signature, but I´m pretty sure that the cover was done by Necmi Riza. Riza did a lot of covers for Akbaba, that are easily recognizable by his boldly inked style.
The Lambiek Comiclopedia notes that Necmi Riza Ayça was born in Yugoslavia-Pristine in 1912 and died in 2000, while Turkish Vikipedia states he was born in 1914 and died in 2001.
In the early 1960s, Şevket Uğurluer was among the first Turkish musicians to mix traditional music with Jazz. Today Uğurluer is mostly known for his faithful renditions of US-Pop hits, most of whom have been re-released on CD.
Not this one. When recording the spiritual Josua Fit The Battle Of Jericho, Uğurluer didn´t seem to have taken the lyrics too seriously. But who cares about some slurred lines, when he and his gang play the song at such breakneck speed.
“Joshua the battle of Jerico… and the wölls came tumblin´down….”
The Pete Seeger penned protest-song If I Had A Hammer was a hit for Trini Lopez in 1963. Sevket Uğurluer´s version is wrongly credited to Trini Lopez on the label, but it´s pretty close to the hit.
Except that, here Animal from the Muppet Show is on drums….
For the first time, I´m not posting a rarity but a hit record. Abidik Gubidik Twist is the Turkish Twist hit record and was also featured in two movies. However, I guess outside of Turkey few people will have heard these songs. While Turkish Psych has fans worldwide, Turkish Twist is still only known to Turks. Abidik Gubidk Twist was re-released in 2011, though buried in a 5 CD-Box of Turkish movie songs. As far as I could see Göz Göz Değdi Bana has never been commercially re-released.
Abidik Gubidik Twist (“Nonsense Twist”) first appeared in the opening scene of the 1963 film Beni Osman Öldürdü. Following its success, the song again appeared in the opening sequence of Abidik Gubidik.
Öztürk Serengil was a comedian who starred in close to 300 movies. He died in 1999 at the age of 69. His daughter Seren Serengil is also a pop singer.
This record came out through Öztürk´s own short-lived Serengil record label. A great first release that features two Turkish Twist hits. Abidik Gubidik Twist even has a nice guitar solo.
Ajda Pekkan was only 18 when she sang Göz Göz Değdi Bana in her first film “Adanalı Tayfur”. Today Ajda Pekkan is the Turkish Superstar. Altogether she has starred in 47 films.
Öztürk Serengil doing some wild Twist moves in the opening squence of the film “Beni Osman Öldürdü”:
Gezakt of geslaagd has been re-issued more than twenty years ago. I´m still posting it here, because it´s one of my better recent finds. It was only one Euro and I found it in May at a flea market – of all places – in Istanbul! Buried in a bunch of other Dutch records, I did´nt know what it was at the time. The catalog of the Negram label that is printed on the back of the sleeve seemed promising, though. It features Dutch Beat groups like The Ronnies, Mokum Beat Five, The Motions, Tee-Set, Andy Tielmann and Roek Williams and the Fighting Cats.
Back home in Berlin I recognized Gezakt of geslaagd from a CD a Dutch friend gave me many years ago. The song was first re-released in 1994 on Biet Het Vol. 2 – Trip Trap Door De Tulpjes on Boem Records. In 2002 it was featured on Beatmeisjes – Dutch Girls and Girl Groups in the Sixties, compiled by Frank Dam and Marthy Coumans. Frank Dam also wrote a 224 page book on the same subject. Everybody who bought that book knows more about Els Molenaar than I do. Sadly, I don´t know Dutch and do not own the book.
According to Popsike someone bought this record for 110 Euros in 2011. It is Els Molenaar´s sole record. Gezagt of geslaagd (pass or fail) is a happy little anti-school song.
Two bad it only lasts two and a half minutes….
What sort of book is Els throwing in the dustbin? A German-Dutch textbook.
Some schoolgirl doodles by the graphic artist: T-Set… Motions… Lily Bart… Lily Bart from Edith Wharton´s The House of Mirth?
Els, where are you today?
Bereits im Juni schrieb ich für die Junle World einen kleinen Text über rare Platten und wie ich diese fand hier.
Simply called Privatpressung, this my be one of the most private of German private pressing. It was indeed so secret, that the producers didn´t even include any information regarding the artists, authors, song titles, nor where and when they were recorded. The back of the sleeve is blank, same as the label.
The front cover contains anything but the most telling: a photo of a topless girl holding three 45s, strangely all by the Tempo label, at the time of this release – in the late 60s/early 70s, I assume – still one of Germany´s biggest budget labels. And a disclaimer…
By buying this record I declare that I´m of legal age, that I will only use this record privately and will not make it accessible to anyone below the age of 21. I declare furthermore that I will not be offended by the record that I bought.
People probably bought this record in an adult store or by mailorder, so they knew what they were getting. Honestly, forty years after these songs were recorded, they still make me blush. If you do not know German, they may just sound like a bunch of folk songs sung by a male-female duo, but believe me, they´re very filthy.
So be warned! If you click here: Don´t be offended…