Last month Berlin Beatet Bestes got to be five years old. Since I´ve started a lot of things have changed in the digital world, that seem to have made music blogs less relevant. Facebook and Spotify have made it much easier and faster to communicate about music and records, and at the same time, streaming has made MP3s somehow less valued, while the rights to distribute them are still being fought over fiercely. Following this changeover, a lot of great blogs have disappeared or gone on hiatus this year. Nevertheless I think singular autonomous spaces like this one are still valid. While the means to communicate about music have multiplied, the musical focus and quality of the writing seems to have narrowed. The chit chat on Facebook and Youtube does not compare to a well thought-out piece about music. So I intend to keep going, maybe not at the fastest pace and without journalistic aspirations, but I don´t see why I should stop, when I still enjoy doing it. I´m still collecting records, I still have hundreds of 45s worth posting, and I don´t see any other space where I would have the same kind of freedom to create. Where else would I be able show this little oddity?
This nicely designed record was made to advertize hot Cuban artists like Lourdes Gil, Elena Burke and Pacho Alonso from 1969/1970 of the Areito label, a sub label of the state owned Egrem label. So not only is this a commercial, it is also a holiday record. Keep in mind that communist regimes always tried to neglect the Christian origin of Christmas, albeit not very successfully. So here´s my little Christmas greeting to all of you who keep coming back here. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Berlin via Cuba.
Felicidades, Amigo! Greetings, friend! Meilleurs voeux, ami! Frohes Weihnachtsfest! поздровляем вac дoрoroй друr! Auguri amici!
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.