DANNY DAVIS AND THE TWISTERS, Happy New Year Twist, 1961
Why isn´t everybody doing it? It´s very simple: I buy a cheap record in a thrift store. Mostly I buy records by well-known artists. But sometimes I find records by artists I´m not familiar with. When I get home I see if the Internet knows more than I do. In this case, as I had suspected, there was not a lot to be found about Boyd Bachmann. No re-issues of his work, no Wikipedia and no blog posts. If you were not a cult artist and didn´t record in a cult style, nobody cares about your work anymore. Still, when I had put all the bits and pieces (mostly translated from a short biography on a Danish film site) together, I was surprised about the interesting story that unfolded from a simple 45 bought in a thrift store.
Borge Gustav “Boyd” Bachmann (1908–1981), a Danish musician, actor and comedian, was the son of Carla Bachman, who had been performing as a singer in the Golden Age Hall and the Lorry Club in Copenhagen. Bachmann first became known as a drummer and showman in various orchestras, including Bruno Henriksen´s Arena Orchestra:
From 1927-28 he was with Valdemar Eiberg´s Orchestra, known for cutting the earliest Danish jazz record “I’ve Got a Cross-Eyed Papa” b/w “In Bluebird Land”. In 1928 he got a job with Vilfred Kjaer´s Orchestra and from 1928-29 with Otto Lington´s Orchestra. In 1930, he went along with Anchor Skjoldborg to Italy where he played from 1930-31:
Here´s a great swingin´ version of the German hit song Wenn die Elisabeth nicht so schöne Beine hätt´, recorded while in Italy in 1931 by the Columbia Jazz Orchestra led by Edoardo De Risi. Borge Bachmann is playing the drums:
While Anchor Skjoldborg returned home after one year, Borge Bachman travelled on to the U.S. where he stayed for one year. From 1931-33 he had an engagement with Kaj Julian´s Orchestra:
Bachmann then went back to Italy and from there to Switzerland where he and Paul Godwin traveled several countries in the years 1935-39. In 1939 he settled in Holland where he married a Dutch woman and also started to lead his own Boyd Bachman Orchestra:
During the war, Boyd Bachman was arrested by the Germans because he hid Jews in his orchestra. Jazz went underground in 1940 as a result of the Nazi occupation of Denmark when jazz was discouraged by the regime. Nevertheless, it continued to be performed and recorded, even more so as Danish musicians began to fill the void created by the lack of foreign players touring through the area. Musicians such as Eiberg and Henriksen continued to play jazz music as a form of political protest. Many musicians found it necessary to escape the country in the later years of the occupation. Boyd Bachmann didn´t return to Denmark until 1950 when he performed several concerts.
That could have been the story of many jazz musicians. However in the 1950´s the seasoned jazz musician, who had played with every Danish jazz pioneer, started a second career as a comedian in the film business and on television. In 1956 he played in the Danish film Hvad vil De ha´? and in 1961 in the Finnish TV production Lokakuum viihdeilta.
Boyd Bachmann appeared on German TV many times and also in two German comedies: Mal drunter – mal drüber (1960) and Hurra, bei uns geht’s rund aka Der Held des Tages (1971).
I couldn´t find any videos from either his TV or film appearances. In this short scene from Der Held des Tages Trude Herr is playing together with Marius Müller Westernhagen:
Boyd Bachmann revisited his musical past in 1961 with Ich hab´das Fräul´n Helen baden sehn, a German charleston tune from 1925. The lyrics of the song are fairly suggestive, but in a charming way: “I´ve seen Miss Helen take a bath and I saw her calves , round and sweet, and when she clumsily bent down low, I could see quite closely, the women´s … Ahh!” Risqué bathing songs were quite popular in the 20´s, so I guess it made sense to do a updated version in the still risqué-crazy early 60´s. Backed by Werner Müller and his orchestra:
The same goes for Was machst Du mit dem Knie, lieber Hans? (What are you doing with the knee, dear Hans?). It´s a little suggestive but still sweet: Hans always behaves badly when he dances. But only on the dancefloor, she complains. The song was originally recorded in 1925 by Bachmann´s collegue Paul Godwin and his Künstler Ensemble
of the Nelson Theater, Berlin.
By 1970 Boyd Bachmann, the handsome former Danish king of swing, had fully transformed into a wacky old comedian. He even appeared in a major advertising campaign in movie theatres, selling Langnese ice cream. A picture of him holding a Langnese ice cream box miraculosly even made it onto this record sleeve.
Omama aus Omaha (The grandma from Omaha) is counting all the things that were bought from the inheritance of the grandma from Omaha in the U.S.Ahhh.: Bubblegum, a blue whig, a musical clock, a Mickey Mouse, a lady´s Colt with a handle made of gold, a cowboy hat made in Hollywood and a motor-driven Whiskey bottle opener:
Willst Du, oder willst Du nicht? is another suggestive song. Do you want or not?, Boyd is innocently asking, but then answers himself: whatever you like, I´ll have ice cream. But at night I´ll be a torero, a Pied Piper, a balladeer, a Mexican or an Indian. In your dreams…
The combination of the words Debbie ( Harry) and Neon (the buzzword of the early 80´s) is screaming: New Wave. I bought this 45, because I liked the title, because it was produced in Berlin and because I already own another pretty cool Debbie Neon record. Last year I posted her version of Talking Heads´ Psycho Killer. Unfortunately there is very little information on the Internet about Debbie Neon´s brief but interesting career in the early 80´s.
The first thing that appears are the three singles she recorded for CBS: Psycho Killer/Neon Lights (1979), American Nightmare/Energy (1980) and The Boys Are Out Tonight/Spotlight (1981). Debbie Neon also appeared on the 1979 CBS compilation LP Waves Of Rock, along with Nina Hagen and the Stripes (Nena´s first band). But although the company held onto her for three years, she never got to record a full LP.
From 1980 to 1984 Debbie Neon (real name Petra Jokisch) appeared in four films: Asphaltnacht (1980), Sei zärtlich, Pinguin (1982), Kamikaze 1989 (1982) and Didi, der Doppelgänger (1984), the first three being prime examples of supercool (to freezing cold) early 80´s movies. Her greatest moment was probably when she starred along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Kamikaze 1989. It was Fassbinders last film before his death in June 1982.
Debbie Neon also modelled for various publications, the highlight being her appearance on the cover of the German Playboy in February 1984.
The music is pretty average disco and there is a strong Kate Bush/Nina Hagen influence in Debbie Neon´s singing. Not exactly the stuff , cult records are made of, but I really like these songs. Especially the song Energy. It´s what I need this time of the year, more energy. Total energy.