The majority of German Beat songs were sung in English but as silly as most of them were, I still like the ones best that were sung in German. For no other reason than that I like these songs very much, here are a couple of my favorites.
Michael and the Firebirds from Cologne recorded this stormy German cover-version of Freddy Cannon`s Abigail Beecher in 1964. Two years later their vocalist Michael Kogel hit with Los Bravos selling over one million copies of Black Is Black world-wide.
The Gloomy Moon Singers were the house band at Berlin`s Riverboat Club. In 1964 they came in second in a battle of the bands at the Star Club, losing the first prize to the more stylish Lords. They recorded one more 45 for the Telefunken label before changing to simply The Gloomys, and more of a pop direction. The most famous band member of The Gloomy Moon Singers was Frank Zander, a German Pop singer who had many hits, singing novelty songs in his gruff trade-mark voice.
The song Zieht euch warm an ( dress warmly) is an advice to all teenage lovers making out at night in the parks and also a threat by the mothers and the fathers ( like prepare yourself: the trouble that your in for, once you get home) with a great trebly guitar sound…
In 1960 the Rocking Stars from the small town of Rastatt were probably the only teenage amateur Rock`n`Roll group that got a chance to make records in Germany at the time. They recorded two flexi discs for the budget label Hallo and then later developed into a Beat group.
Tina Darling , a cover-version of Shake, Rattle and Roll with German lyrics, was a minor hit at Radio Luxembourg and is featured on their CBS LP.
THE ROCKING STARS, Tina Darling, 1965
THE ROCKING STARS , Blues Stay Away From Me, 1965
The Cousins were actually a Belgian instrumental group much like the Shadows but they sing in German on these two songs so I thought it fit the theme. Das alte Haus in New Orleans is a good cover-version but the flip is actually much better. Also a cover but of what song?…
Here`s a video of them as a instrumental group:
While I was in the basement sorting out records to take to the flea-market or use for Auktion/Destruktion I found this record. I think it was in a bunch of records a girl gave me last year while I was “dj-ing”( does playing records on a battery-run miniature record player in a gallery/library count as dj-ing?) . She said: maybe you can use them, I don`t have a record player anyway. But I never listened to this one until last week when I took it upstairs to our appartement. And then I recognized the B. Frank! That must be the same Bernhard Frank that I posted three weeks ago! At least it sounds very similar. Again my search for Bernhard Frank on the internet has not been successful.
If this was only a test-pressing or also got a proper release I don`t know. It`s likely that Decca felt that they already had Drafi Deutscher and so already had this area covered. But Bernhard Frank should have gotten a chance: these are great catchy Beat songs, obviously very much influenced by the Beatles…
Just as pissed off as one of the store owners that had sent me a very angry and formal mail complaining about what I had written about him two weeks ago. Not only was I pissed off, I was also feeling guilty. In my little round-up of the stores I go to in my neighborhood, I had written some sentences about him that were not so nice. Not really mean-spirited but still a little unfair. I was only being honest but I also got carried away a little writing about some other businesses and forgot to write something nice about him. We do have a chat sometimes and always got along well. His store is the most well-organized of all the second-hand record-stores in this area and he is always busy to have new records coming.
In his mail he objected against the use of the photo of his store-front and wrote that he had not contacted his lawyer because he knew me personally as a customer. Within a couple of minutes after receiving the mail I deleted the photo and the sentences from my files. Then I sent him a mail and apologized. I regretted saying bad stuff behind his back and told him I was sorry. I thought that was it. But when I did a Google search the photo still kept popping up: together with the nastiest snippet from my sentences! That only fueled my frustration.
Apparently search-engines keep the cached versions of everything. I was so stupid to put a name to the photo and because I always supersize my images it is the biggest of all the others. I then sent a request to Google to delete the cache. They did delete it but so far nothing has changed. The photo keeps appearing in the Google search. If anybody knows how to completely delete an image, please let me know.
The whole thing was bugging me very much. I don`t write this blog to piss people off. If I wanted to do that it would look much different. I like my neighborhood. It`s a nice neighborhood and I like the fact that I get along with people here. For two days I felt like an asshole.
I didn`t hear back from him so today I went to his store to apologize personally once more. I even brought him some chocolate as a present. To my great surprise he was very nice. He smiled at me and took the present. And smiled again. I said I was sorry and that I like his store. And the fact that it is so organized and that I enjoyed talking with him in the past. He said that it was okay and that we were having different opinions. He congratulated me on my blog and said that I should make a book out of it one day. He even said that he liked the photo and if he could use it. We talked for a while and in the end we shook hands. When I left the store I felt like I had lost a big weight off my back.
The whole story is probably not so special. Second-hand record-stores and their owners around the world around the world are pretty similar. It`s a cut-throat business of buying and selling. Sitting amidst all this dusty material. Weird record-collector types (like me) coming in wanting to make a bargain. (Mostly) women coming in asking for particular songs. You won`t get rich doing that. I`m really grateful that there still are record-stores!
But of course it taught me a lesson. Nobody proof-reads my writing but it`s not like nobody is reading my blog any more. I will be a little more careful about what I write in the future.
Now onto the music…
Because I really like this record I`ll make an exception this week and post a LP. I didn`t know what it was until I took it home and saw that the sleeve was signed by M. Strahl. When I checked the insert it listed Michael Strahl as the guitarist of XOX-Rock.
Immediately I realized that it was the same Michael Strahl that was also a well-known Berlin Underground-Cartoonist in the 80`s. His comic-strip Paul, die Ratte (Paul, The Rat) appeared in the independent bi-weekly entertainment guide Zitty for many years. Whenever I was visiting Berlin as a teenager I read his strips and liked them very much. I have one book of his collected strips from 1983. The strip centered around the adventures of Paul, The Rat and his rock group the Kotz Combo (The Vomit Combo). No other Berlin strip captured the spirit of the Berlin rock scene in the 80`s so vividly.
Much like other first generation Underground Cartoonists from Berlin like Tomas M. Bunk, Harald Juch, Peter Petri, Hansi Kiefersauer, Fuchsi, Rolf Boyke, Detlef Surrey and others, Michael Strahl was published and also appeared in book collections at the time. A crucial time for German Underground comics a lot of their stories centered around drugs, Rock`n`Roll and Politics: one of the leading themes being the squatter movement that was happening at the time. A record with a Detlef Surrey comic sleeve design in support of detained squatters was actually the first one I posted here. Sadly none of their collected work has been re-issued and is not available in comic book stores any more.
Record collectors, specialists and Rock`n`Roll fanatics have a certain way of defining what is cool and collectible. Until some people make a creative decision to re-define that and start a new trend. A lot of the locally released Punk records for example were not included in the canon of Punk Rock until the Killed by Death re-issue compilations came out in the mid-90`s.
A lot of rock groups of the early 80`s still had a big foot in the 70`s. They were not New Wave, not Punk and not Hard Rock. They were everything together. They were not pure. That automatically excluded them from becoming cult groups. In the past I have posted some such records by local Berlin groups like Naasti, Prädikat Wertvoll, Extra, Sportpalast, Schlaflose Nächte and Rinnsteinsynphoniker.
XOX-Rock fell right into that trap. In their case undeservedly so. Their self-released split-Lp with fellow Berliners Q-Rios never went anywhere and hasn`t been re-released for close to 30 years. I really really like the XOX-Rock stuff . I`ve been listening to the song Angst in particular a lot lately. Great rockin`stuff with angry female vocals by Kirsten Fiscian. Somewhere between Black Sabbath and Nina Hagen…
This week I was asked to write something for the blog, because Andreas is too busy with a lettering job. Guess what – I like music too – but I don’t own any 7”s and my LP collection is very small. Some David Bowie, some Talking Heads and many Depeche Mode LP’s, that was it. But I don’t own a record player. So I’m not really prepared to write about music. I thought I`d tell you about living with a record collector. Because it is different.
Okay, let’s talk about the STUFF.
Well, it is not quite Japanese looking in our flat. We have a huge apartment with very little space left. Feng Shui would kill himself if he would see how Andi’s room looks. When we moved into our place our friends said: “You can never move out again because none of us will ever help you carry all this stuff again. Matze: “I can’t believe I carried a box with Spex (stupid music magazine) issues from the eighties to the fourth floor.”
A collector collects and he doesn’t collect only one kind of thing he collects different things – at least my collector does. Records (as you know), comic books, furniture, magazines, fanzines, flyers, T-shirts, toys and weird things from the fifties “I need this for reference”.
Do you know Lindenstraße? Andi’s room looks like the living room of Else Kling – the old hag that stopped buying new items for her apartment in 1956.
What really kills me is that the stuff keeps getting more and more. Every week Andi carries new things into our flat and since nothing is leaving the house I’m afraid one day we will break through the floor and land in the Muslim living room downstairs. Sometimes Andi goes to the flea market to sell stuff and I get all happy “space, air, stuff leaving us…” But then he goes to the basement, stays there for hours and his room looks just like before. The basement must be full of more stuff. I haven’t been there.
I guess you don’t understand why I feel so strongly about collecting. Did you see Fight Club: “as soon as you own things they start owning you” and who really needs the complete edition of Klingende Post? Sometimes I go to the flea market with Andi. It happens rarely and he doesn’t tell me his true intentions. He says we go shopping for food and then he ends up kneeling in front of some old guys booth digging through a bunch of dusty records. I never see when, what and how he buys them and when we are back home he hides them from me.
Now to handling the stuff.
Do you wash your records? Does anybody besides my boyfriend do that? Andi has mastered his own technique to clean records. He takes Spüli (dish-washing detergent) and make-up pads. He loves doing that and he loves teaching fellow collectors how to do it. And when his babies are nice and clean they get a plastic sleeve and guess what, he changes the sleeve every six month (he doesn’t change our bed sheets that often and I’d rather see him cleaning the windows as passionately …). The old sleeves he gives to a friend who is new to the collecting business.
Now leaving the stuff.
Sometimes I can convince Andi to leave the house for more than an hour and to go further than the end of our district. But it is hard for him leaving his stuff behind. We sat in the most beautiful spots of foreign countries and Andi misses his stuff so much that he gets very very homesick. Ten days is max. He tries to overcome his stuffhomesicknesslonging by trying to find 7”s everywhere we go. Did you know that Bangkok had a big rock’n’roll scene in the whatevers? We sat in Oaxaca (Mexico) and little native kids came to us trying to sell self-made traditional-somethings and Andi just frowned and said:” If they came around with some old records…” We bought a Mexican Beatles record with no record but cardboard in it. I saw the reclining Buddha and Andi kneeled in front of old peoples record boxes in Chinatown. His first approach to different cultures: ”Do you know if there is any record or antique-stores here?” The natives shake their heads when they see how thrilled he is about some trashy Romanian version of Hula-Hula or something like that. When we are home he shows his treasures to his friend and by talking so passionately those old records change into diamonds and then they are cleaned and presented to you guys out there:
”Look what I found in Mongolia – Chinese Beat form Japan with Mikey Blabla on the guitar produced by Tommie Idontgiveafuck and it came out on **#ä+# – can you believe that?”
I’m sure that Andi would even find some rare forgotten 7”s on the moon.
Okay, now you probably think: why don’t you leave that guy and live in a monastery without any material things? Well, my problem is that I have a hard time throwing things out, too. I always think I could use this again someday. Stationary with little elephants from the early seventies that were given to me by my aunt, cardboard boxes in different sizes (always handy to have), gift wrapping paper from last Christmas (why throw it out I could use it next year), jam jars (I will make marmalade next summer, promised). So maybe I should just start my own blog called:
Don’t throw it away you might need it later. Look at this beautiful oil bottle that I bought yesterday. When the oil is gone I can use it as a vase….
Oh, I forgot this is a music blog. So here are my favourite songs from Andi’s collection. Get your girlfriend and let her listen to these beautiful songs. Every girl will love them. And a collector who finds such heartbreaking music needs to be loved himself.