A mystery country & western 45 from Berlin. No idea what year it was released and I couldn´t find any information or image of Jennifer Lee. What I do know, is that both songs were written by Ruth Händel. Ruth Händel had a local hit record (written in part by Drafi Deutscher), the novely song Meine letzte Zigarette . My last cigarette, cough, cough…
According to the German web forum of Memory Radio, Ruth Händel, born Heidemarie Gerbsch, performed together with German C&W stars Western Union and co-founded the German band Country Child, prior to her solo career in the 70s. Ruth Händel died in 2003.
Jennifer Lee recorded at least one more 45 on her own G.M. label, Samstag Nacht/ The Simple Words Of Love. The lyrics to Country Songs pretty much pin her down as a fan and an amateur singer. In the best way:
“I only like bars that play country and western music/ When AFN´s Country Time is on the air, / I invite all country fans to my place/ I´m not singing like Big Hank Snow or Dave Dudley/ Country songs – just for fun/ Country songs – bye bye so long/ I´ll go see live music and will never pass on a record store/ And one day I´ll move to Nashville,/ but meanwhile I´ll make country western in Berlin”
Trucker fahr is about truckers going to Africa to save children…
An unrelated artifact from my personal collection: matchbook for NASHVILLE SALOON, a country and western bar at Kadettenweg 63 in Berlin-Lichterfelde. Although not related, this place fits roughly in the same time frame with Jennifer Lee. Like Jennifer Lee, there´s no trace of the Berlin Nashville Saloon today..
A bit of a mystery record here, starting with the group´s name. Aries Afosheenga on the sleeve, simply Afosheenga on the label, while Rock City, a Berlin rock music guide from 1985 lists them as Aries Afrosound.
And then, what is Afro-European Generation? Is it the title of the record or another name for the band? Further info from Rock City, shines some light on it: ” Steven was born in the star sign of Aries on the Ivory Coast, of Nigerian descent. His music (Afro-European Generation) reflects the life and team play of black and white people. Role models are Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Frantz Fanon.”
Aries band members were: Steve (Voc, conga, g), Kola (voc,b,conga), Yomi (voc,perc,g), René (perc,g), Peter (dr), Conrado (flute, sax), Daniel (tenor-sax), Urban (p-synth). Recorded and mixed at STEVE`S MUSIC SHOP, West-Berlin. Distributed by STEVE`S MUSIKLADEN, Gitschiner Straße 96.
The sleeve´s line-up: Stephen Lawal (voc, g, dr, conga), Kola Adio (b, voc, conga, perc), Tina Warse (tenor sax), Daniel Hermelink (keyboard-piano), Parviz Ghiassian (alto-sax), Barry Anene (g, perc)
Despite its melancholy touch, Way Back To Africa is a laid-back West-African tune, straight out of gloomy 1980s West-Berlin…
The synth is used like percussion on Congaman:
Found this privately pressed 45 at my neighborhood flea market a while back. The seller said it was “kinda punk”. It´s a mish-mash of punk/new wave-influenced ROCK, specific to a lot of local bands in the late 70s and early 80s, when Berlin was punk capital.
Drummer Reinhard “Wurzel” Stey, who wrote both of these songs, came from an older generation of rock musicians. Since 1970, he had played in Panko Musik and later in Tontransport. Stey was also co-founded the first Berlin rock organization. According to rockinberlin.com, he died at an unknown date.
Grunewald forest is the largest green area in the city of Berlin. Still, the chorus of the song goes: ” The forest is much too small/ Concrete everywhere”
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.
I usually only post records by artists that are either anonymous or pseudonymous or dead or no longer active. I will keep true to that guideline, but I´ll make an exception with this privately pressed 45 just because I like it. Also, the songs have never been re-released, so basically nobody heard them since 1981.
After I bought the record last week at a local Kreuzberg flea market, I checked the Internet and immediately the name of Peter Gentsch, guitarist and vocalist with Leib & Seele came up. Now in his late 60s, Peter is still active and living in Kreuzberg. The Saturns, the Dreamers, the Kids, Ballads, Reaction, Mercurys – his website lists a whole bunch of Berlin groups he´s played in since 1962! The guy is a walking monument of Berlin rock history.
So, here´s some late Krautrock from Leib & Seele – body and soul. Kreuzberglied deals with living close to the Berlin Wall, deep in the heart of Kreuzberg. It´s an authentic early 80s Kreuzberg anthem, even down to the Berlin accent.
Hope you don´t mind me posting this, Peter…
“Ick wohn in Berlin, gleich an der Mauer,/ im tiefsten Kreuzberg, noch was genauer,/ Inne Wiener Strasse, im 4. Stock./ Und massenhaft Leute und Spatzen sind im Block./ Und tausend Hunde,/ was sag´ick, dit sinn noch viel mehr./ Renn ick über de Strasse,/ kommt er hinter mir her./ Und ick krieg Schiss, vor Gebell und Gebiss. / Und hör noch sofort,/ dasser janz harmlos is´./
Und fahr´ ick mit der U-Bahn,/ Kontrolle kommt rein./ Denk ick: So´ne Scheisse,/ muss dass denn sein?/ Die Jungs steh´n vor mir,/ woll´n die Fahrscheine seh´n./ Ick sag´ mir bleib´ ruhig,/ hab´ ja sowieso kehn./
So wohn´ ick in Berlin,/ gleich an der Mauer./ Im tiefsten Kreuzberg,/noch was genauer./ Inne Wiener Strasse, im 4. Stock./ Und massenhaft Leute und Spatzen sind im Block.”
I wore one of those german Bundeswehr parkas in the late seventies too.
Only, I was just 12 years old…
When I was a little boy in the 1970s, album covers decorated with scantily clad women irritated me. We had a few of these in the house, issued by Europa, at the time Germany´s biggest budget label. I guess my mother must have bought them in a supermarket, because my father, a seaman, was away most of the time. It wasn´t adult material that was featured on these Europa LPs, just the typical hits of the day, albeit played by unknown artists. Incidentally the label also issued most of my children´s records. The budget experience must have rubbed off on me, because I´m still occupied with the cheapos today.
I can´t remember where I bought this Mexican album, but it was many years ago, and not in Mexico. It seems to showcase the Discos Orquidea label and two Discoteca Bristol record stores in Acapulco. All of the songs are Mexican Cumbias, and most of them hits, that are still readily available on Itunes or Amazon. In fact, most of the groups are still active today.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten!
LOS MITLATROPICOS, Cumbia De Los Pajaritos, 1980
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.
Just because I know you love it so much, here´s more disco. I have never been to university, but I guees if your´re a student, it´s perfect. Disco, die neue Wissenschaft (disco, the new science) is about a disco university where all the subjects are disco-related. Universität, actually the a-side, is about college life.
A great German novelty record.