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”.
Tommy Kent (born Guntram Kühbeck in 1942 in Munich) recorded the original German cover version of I Need Your Love Tonight for Polydor. It was one of the last songs Elvis cut before he left the US for Germany to serve in the Army. Incidentally, Tommy Kent started his recording career in the flexi-disc business, first recording for Hit-Ton (a postcard record label) and Roxy, a sub-label of Vox-Imago, who also pressed flexis for the Prima label.
Unknown Fred Gutmann´s Prima version of Tommy Kent´s Ich brauche dich dazu, comes complete with reverb vocals and imitation of Tommy´s Bavarian accent. Gutmann recorded another rocker for the Prima label, a fine cover of Billy Sanders´ Daisy du musst schlafen geh´n.
90 Pfennig – that´s what these one-sided Prima flexi-discs sold for. Supposedly a throw-away object for teenagers, 55 years later my copy still plays fine.
Plastic material can be quite durable. It´s possible. that this thin flexi might hold out another 55 years and still be around in 2070.
When nobody will remember what an MP3 was…
” The only people who like this, are Götz Alzmann and you” my co-host sneered, after I had played this song on our radio show a while back. “I think it´s funny!”, I tried to defend my choice. “I´m shocked. Speechless”, he replied. He obviously hated the song. I said: “Wait, til´ I play my other songs…”.
I do like obscure, regional German records and, yes, there are reasons, they never got anywhere. But it´s boring to only listen to the records by myself at home. And it´s fun to catapult a local Berlin song into the digital world after 60 years of obscurity.
(Coco Schuhmann, guitar; Rudi Ernst, clarinet; Ilja Glusgal, cymbal; and unidentified woman jammin´ at Wannseebad, 1940; from Schumann´s autobiography „Der Ghetto-Swinger”, 1997)
Ilja Glusgal was born to Jewish and non-Jewish parents (according to his friend, jazz guitarist Coco Schuhmann) and went to music school when he was 9 years old, to learn to play piano and violin. His first professional job was as a drummer in the swing band of Lubo d´ Orio in 1942, when he was 21. In 1946, he joined the new RBT-Orchestra ( Radio Berlin Tanzorchester), where his talent as a vocalist was “discovered” by Michael Jary. Handsome Ilja quickly became one of the first stars of the post-WWII-era and appeared in eleven movies. By 1950 he had recorded two dozen sides for the state-owned communist East-German Amiga label, but also for West-German labels Columbia, Electrola, HMV, Metrophon, Odeon, Parlophone and Regina. Glusgal even recorded a promotional shellack record for the German beer company Bitburger:”Bitte ein Bit”. His last seven singles of his short career were issued by Philips. Around 1955 he settled in the United States and seems to have stopped working in the music business for good. Apart from an appearance in a German TV-show in 1964, his later life is a mystery. Ilja Glusgal died in 1983 in San Francisco, California.
Ilja Glusgal was the most American of German post-war swing vocalists, if not all Schlager vocalists ever. From Louis Prima´s Bananas and “Angelina, to Jeepers Creepers , to Sensation am Broadway, a German Version of Lullay of Broadway, he always tried to keep it swingin´. He even recorded two western-swing songs in 1949: Roy Rogers´ I’m An Old Cow-Hand and Peter de Vries´ Cowboy Jimmy.
Sensation in Dixieland, backed by Lutz Albrecht and his orchestra and accompanied by the Continentals vocal group, must have been one of Glusgal´s last recordings. His genuine love for jazz music still shines through, though largely overshadowed by Schlager. This lack of purity is one reason it has not been reissued in 60 years.
I hope I´m not the only one to like this type of Swing-Schlager….
Ilja says”Prost!” and goes to play the drums. He´s seen to the right of Lonny Keller. From the film “Die Blume von Hawaii” (1953):
Again he plays the drums in the film “Grosse Starparade” (1954):
Trombonist Hans-Wolf “Hawe” Schneider (1930 – 2011) formed the Spree City Stompers, who became one of the most popular German trad jazz bands, in 1951. Two years later he also opened the legendary “Eierschale”, along with “Badewanne”, the best German Jazz clubs. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Kid Ory appeared at “The Eggshell”. A website dedicated to the cellar pub is here.
The Spree City Stompers first recorded with Brunswick in 1955, then got picked up by the German Vogue label. They also cut a 10″ album “Jazz aus der Eierschale”, together with “Wild” Bill Davison for the budget Bertelsmann/Manhattan label. They toured Western Europe, Poland, Yugoslavia and Africa, appeared in films and on TV and hit the German charts twice in 1961 with “Warte, warte nur ein Weilchen”, a black humored song that dealt with the 1920´s serial killer Fritz Haarmann, and “Brigitte Bardot”. The band dissolved in 1968, when Hawe Schneider moved to the Black Forest region. He stayed active in the jazz scene, his last performance being with the Black Forest Jazz Band in 2007.
After their Brunswick recordings and before their Vogue deal, the Spree City Stompers recorded this EP for Opera in 1958. It has never been re-released in any format.
Hot Jazz from Berlin!
The Spree City Stompers were: Hawe Schneider (tb), Peter Strohkorb (cl), Gerd Vohwinkel (tp), Björn Jensen (bj), Martin Piepkorn (p), Tilo Wendell (bs and sousaphon) and Udo Künitz (d).
Within a short time they appeared in seven Films: Der Himmel ist nie ausverkauft (1955), Der Schräge Otto (1957), Einmal eine große Dame sein (1957), Liebe, Jazz und Übermut (1957), Meine 99 Bräute (1958), … und noch frech dazu (1960) and Verrückt und zugenäht (1962)
In 1957, the Spree City Stompers also show up in the awesome kitsch-masterpiece Der schräge Otto (Fritz Schulz-Reichel, alias Crazy Otto), backing Nana Gualdi and Eddie Pauly and a bunch of Boogie Woogie dancers:
This footage of the Spree City Stompers in Berlin, was shot to promote their extensive tour of Africa in 1966. The silent Super 8 film was dubbed and uploaded by the son of the group´s drummer Lothar Scharf:
Hawe Scheider also wrote for Jazz magazines, such as the local “Schlagzeug” (drums). From February 1959:
Jazz musicians of the swing era, like Count Basie, Sy Oliver and Lionel Hampton all dabbled in rhythm & blues and early rock´n´roll, maintaining the close link of jazz and dance music into the 1950s. Largely to no avail, both jazz and rock´n´roll fans dismissed their efforts as commercial.
In 1956, the prolific Berlin swing-orchestra leader Lubo D´Orio (1904-1983) recorded two boogie and rock´n´roll EPs for the Opera record-club label. I posted the Boogie EP three years ago, but just a while back I also found his other Opera EP in a local charity shop.
This EP features five tracks from the film Rock Around The Clock starring Bill Haley and Freddy Bell and his Bellboys. While never re-released in any format, the tracks are fairly well known among German rock´n´roll collectors, but because they fall in-between big band swing and rock´n´roll, have largely been neglected or even ridiculed as second-rate rock. They´re too rockin´ for the swing fans and too swingin´ for the rockers.
Apparently not much has changed in the evaluation of this budget record in the past 60 years, even down to the price: I paid one Euro.
I love it!
Whenever I see one of those purple Opera sleeves in a record store, I stop to take a closer look. Over the years I´ve posted ten of these record-club 45s. With this one, I also immediately recognized the name. Alexander Gordan recorded a cover of Vico Torriani´s “Schwarzer Domino“, released by local super-budget flexi-disc label Okay Exquisit, that I posted back in 2008
Alexander Gordan (1926-2008) was a busy bee in the burgeoning Berlin pop-market of the 1950s and 60s. Early in his career, he performed as a bass-vocalist in various small groups, tried to go solo in the late 50s, but eventually was more successful as a song writer. His first big break was writing the lyrics to the German cover version of Pat Boone´s “Speedy Gonzales”. Rex Gildo reached #1 in the German charts in 1962 with his version, alongside Boone´s. Gordan also recorded his own version for Opera.
The Opera record club mostly put out cover songs, but occasionally an original song slipped through. Alexander Gordan´s “Heut´ tanz ich nur mit dir” was exclusively issued for Opera – Europäischer Phonoklub.
It went by unnoticed and has not been re-released in any format since 1959.
Undeservedly so. It´s a nice little rocker…
Alexander Gordan wrote for artists like Gerd Böttcher, Caterina Valente and Suzanne Doucet, my favorite being”I Like Jimmy” from 1964, for the duo The Chicks. It was the flip to Ich Will Deine Liebe, the German version of the Dixie Cups #1 smash “Chapel Of Love”. I couldn´t find “I Like Jimmy” online, so I might post it some other time. It´s great up-tempo schlager-beat.
In 1975, Gordan´s career took a bizarre turn when he recorded under the pseudonym Detlev. Singing in an effeminate faux-gay style, Gordan released eight 45s and three LPs of mostly covers of hit-songs. These parody-records were quite successful, simply because they ridiculed gay people. The gay scene was not amused…
Sidney Bechet recorded these four Christmas songs on December 10 and 12, 1958, accompanied by Jean-Claude Pelletier, organ, Claude Gousset, trombone, Alix Bret, bass and Kansas Fields on drums. Less than six month later, Sidney Bechet died in Paris from lung cancer on May 14, 1959, on his 62nd birthday.
While these Holiday tunes might not be considered cream of the crop by some jazz fans, Sidney Bechet did not record a bad song in his lifetime. He even pulled off a spirited version of White Christmas….
Ella Fitzgerald , Etta James and LaVern Baker together on one side of this 45! In the mid-50s, Austrian actress Evi Kent recorded a medley of German versions of Lullaye Of Birdland, Dance With Me Henry and Tweedle Dee for the Viennaphon label.
Also included in the mix is Wenn der Johnny spielt, a German version of Rock Around The Clock, first recorded by Svend Asmussen, and Dein Herz aus Stein, a German version of Hearts Made Of Stone, originally recorded by Otis Williams & His Charms in 1954, but more likely based on the white covers by Georgia Gibbs and the Fontane Sisters.
The love metaphors of “Lullaby of Birdland, that’s what I/ always hear/ when you sigh” were further modified to fit a more realistic Austrian setting. “Seit ich dir begegnet/ geh ich froh/ jeden Tag/ ins Büro”: Since I met you, I´m happy to go to work every day.
Found on a rainy Sunday in Vienna at the Naschmarkt- flea market. Apparently it´s never been re-issued in the past sixty years…