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…
PARTY! Now, that´s a cool name for a label. With a name like that you´d expect full colour picture sleeves, but unfortunately the ones I´ve seen have plain type-only designs. All Party releases seem to feature Loretta, so likely the label was a vehicle for her career. Local budget-stars Bob Gerry (Werner Hass), the Moonlights and the Columbinos also appear on Party releases. Günter Pätzold, who backs Loretta with his orchestra, began recording for Odeon in the late 1940s. He co-wrote Küß Mich Heiß (as Petzold) for the Heinz-Becker Barquintett for the Amiga label, incidentally, a group Fritz Wölffer played guitar in. Pätzold also recorded for the local cheapo flexi disc-label Okay.
Du allein was written by Pätzold, Loretta and a certain van Holsten, while Frage nicht nach meinen Traeumen was written for Loretta by Bruno Balz and Heino Gaze, two very successful German songwriters. Heino Gaze (1908-1967) wrote the music to around 600 German hit songs, like La-Le-Lu, Kalkutta liegt am Ganges, and Shake Hands, a hit for Drafi Deutscher. Bruno Balz (1902-1988) wrote the lyrics to more than a thousand hit songs, a lot of them together with Michael Jary. He especially wrote for Zarah Leander, but carried on until the mid-60s with such hits as Mäcki Boogie, Berlin bleibt doch Berlin! and Mama for child star Heintje. Bruno Balz was a very interesting character and I recommend to read his full story on Wikipedia.
Both songs have a pretty big production for a small label, that contrast with Loretta´s unique voice.
Now, who is this mysterious Loretta?
Party PD 2713, A-Side: Loretta (Günter Pätzold mit senem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights) – Quando… Quando… / B-Side: Bob Gerry und die Moonlights – Luana (Komm heute Nacht zu mir)
Party PD 2714, A-Side: Loretta – Eine Insel für zwei/ B-Side: Günter Pätzold – Paris (Guenter Pätzold mit seinem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights)
Party PD 2715, A-Side: Loretta – Frage nicht nach meinen Tränen/ B-Side: Lotetta- Du allein (Guenter Pätzold mit seinem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights)
“Klingeling mit meinem Fahrrad/ fahr ich fröhlich durch die Welt./Einnmal linksherum, einmal rechtsherum/ Grade wie es mir gefällt.” A happy song about riding a bicycle, from a time when very few Berliners owned a car. The Cornel-Trio (Peter Cornehlsen – baritone, guitar, Michael Lengauer – bass-baritone and Horst “Dickie” Kraft- tenor, double bass) was one of many German groups that were influenced by US-Rhythm’n’Blues-vocal groups of the late 40s. But while black vocal groups met on street corners, these guys met each other in the Wehrmacht in 1942, when they were still teenagers, and then went all the way through the war, captivity and release together.
Originally recorded for Amiga, and backed by the Bruno-Klennert Quartett, this 78 rpm record was also released on its West-German subsidiary label Regina. The Cornel-Trio was a pretty productive group in their time, but of all the dozens of sides they recorded, so far only 13 songs have made it into the digital age through the retrospective CD Peter Cornehlsen & das Cornel Trio in 2008.
Written by Edgar Kausch and cartoonist Hans Bradtke, this Radfahrswing has never been re-issued in any format since 1949.
Klingeling mit meinem Fahrrad…
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…
Trio Sorrento was a fixture in the Berlin music scene from the 50s to the 70s. While less prolific than fellow Berlin trio 3 Travellers, they still managed to record a bunch of records for Ariola, CBS, Fontana, Elite Special and budgets like Baccarola and Opera.
Among them, this promotional record for local supermarket chain Butter Beck, issued to celebrate the company´s 75th anniversary. Initially established in 1888 as a butter-shop by Oskar Beck, the company went out of business in 2004, and was sold to local rival Kaiser´s.
In 2006, a retro-Butter Beck toy truck was issued by the German toy manufacturer Wiking. A toy and this happy, swingin´ little tune seem to be the only things that commemorate the company today. An Internet search will probably turn out this post, just because I mentioned Butter Beck a bunch of times.
Butter Beck, Butter Beck, Butter Beck….