He´s been in the business for 50 years and has sold millions of records. He´s also the most famous incredibly strange artist from Germany. Jello Biafra is a big fan. I´m not going to write his name in full, because – contrary to my usual policy – this artist is still very much alive and working. In fact, since he re-invented himself two years ago he´s been very successful, and now appears on German television every week. Since this blog deals with odd German records, it was inevitable that I finally came to the undisputed king of German musical weirdness. You know who I´m talking about….
So, this is the first record ( self-published by Dieter Wolf, the Ok-Singers´ guitarist) that our man was ever involved with. The group recorded two more 45s for Vogue and Electrola, but none of them have ever been reissued commercially. The two tracks are risqué “Stimmungslieder” with a rock´n´roll twist. While his solo career was largely built “in contrast to the modern beat hysteria” (according to the liner notes from his first LP), this record, that features a cartoon girl in a mini-skirt, shows that he had an early brush with it.
Risqué songs, rock´n´roll, cartoon – now, that makes it pretty much…
A PERFECT RECORD!
Lengthy song titles are a good indication for a novelty tune. So, out of curiosity I bought this 45 last Saturday at a local Kreuzberg flea market. The flip, Kurdistan, has unusually nonsensical/clever lyrics, an oriental twist and a nice swingin´vibe. Good ingredients for a hit song, nevertheless the record flopped. The songs probably were too silly for jazz purists and still too sophisticated for mainstream audiences. Not surprisingly they have never been reissued in 52 years.
Fred Gartner is from Austria, but otherwise no information about him online. The only info I have, is from this sleeveless Odeon 45, that was originally released by the Austrian Favorit Records, house label of comedian Georg Kreisler.
From the credits I assume Kurdistan was written by Joe Dixie, another German Jazz musician that went completely under the radar. I have written a bit about Dixie a while back here.
Though the lyrics themselves are not related to it, Durchs wilde Kurdistan was obviously inspired by a novel of the same title, written by Karl May in 1892. A film based on the book was released in 1965.
Schokoladen-Laden-Ladennmädchen is vaguely reminiscent of titles like Bill Ramsey´s Wumba -Tumba Eisverkäufer and Trude Herr´s Ich will keine Schokolde. It was written by Austrian comedians Gerhard Bronner and Peter Wehle. Together Bronner and Wehle wrote over 1000 songs and programs. Both of Jewish descent, here they can be seen doing a comedy report on their tour of Israel:
The only trace of Fred Gartner that I could find is an excerpt of a show recorded live at the “Splendid Bar” in Vienna in 1959. Gartner is the one on the right side, doing the impression of Louis Armstrong:
Most people will probably only shrug their shoulders when they hear these songs, but to me this record seems almost unreal. It´s like this record was made for Berlin Beatet Bestes and on so many levels!
1. It is an advertisement record,
2. It was privately pressed for a Berlin car dealer
3. It´s got a cartoon sleeve
4. The two risqué songs are sung by local Berlin star Brigitte Mira, an actress who frequently worked with Fassbinder
5. The music is in sort of a Dixieland Jazz style
6. Of course it´s also never been reissued.
What more can I ask for?
In a way these two risqué songs, backed by Heinrich Riethmüller, predate Brigitte Mira´s bold later work. For some unknown reason the Berlin car dealer Bunde had the idea to advertize for his business with some naughty songs. Some sleeves even had “Der kesse Gruss vom Autohaus Bunde” ( Naughty greetings from Autohaus Bunde) stamped on the front. You can see this stamp on a copy that some greedy person is trying to sell on Ebay for the ridiculous amount of 35 Euros. Of course nobody will ever buy it. Listen to the songs and you´ll see why. Last week I paid less than 50 cents in a thrift store and I think that´s much more appropriate. Most likely it was the name that got the seller to put a higher price tag on this record.
Brigitte Mira (1910-2005) was most famous for the work she did with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was Fassbinder´s genius to cast people like Brigitte Mira for his art films. She had been a popular German actress since the 1940s, but was mostly known for her comedies. Mira´s personal courage made her steer off the beaten path and towards serious, more challenging roles, like in Ali:Fear Eats The Soul (1974).
By the early 70s Fassbinder regularly worked for German television. “Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht” was a TV-show directed by Fassbinder for Brigitte Mira. German television never got more campy than this:
Despite her adventurous career, in the eyes of the majority of the German public, Brigitte Mira remained „the archetypal funny old Berlinerin with a heart.” (The Guardian). But in the 70s Brigitte Mira basically had two careers, appearing in cutting-edge art films and also starring in funny popular films and on television (most prominently in the series Drei Damen vom Grill).
Finally: the music.
Die alte Clofrau translates to “The Old Toilet Lady”. In the song she tells the story of her life as a bathroom attendant. A blues song about how she flushes the toilet for the very last time…
Triebwagen is railcar, but Trieb also means sex drive. Mit dem Triebwagen nach Italien translates to “Travelling to Italy by railcar”. The lyrics deal with the cliché that Italian men are sexually potent. So horny female German tourists travel to Italy in search of sexual adventures…
The artwork of this record is not signed. I have a vague suspicion who could have done it but so far I can not put a name to it.
Mena Matos is shouting and screaming and then he´s singing softly like a crooner but whatever he did, it did make people go Gargalhadas – burst into laughter.
I like the way he seems to be imitating the teen singers of the 50´s/early 60´s:
These two gentlemen are making fun of the teenagers who would go to the hair dresser, only to have very little hair actually cut. I think that Duo Humoristico might have had a point there. But what about the polar bear?
Here´s some scraps from a Portuguese magazine I found in a junk shop:
Funny fado songs from a forgotten time…
Marcos told me that the character this gentleman is impersonating, is a traditional folk figure. Actually he´s one of the first Portuguese cartoon characters. Marcos should know, he works in Bedeteca, Lisbon’s only comics library.
I forgot the name of the character but seeing his bare ass on the cover was an image I just couldn´t pass up….
The sad and sentimental fados might be the most well-known ones, but Sr. Peles soccer songs are definitely fados too. Compared to most German football related songs, these are in a league of its own. German football songs can be funny but I have yet to hear any, that are of this musical caliber. Now of course Domingos Pereira is a die-hard fan of the Portuguese team, but why must he insist, that the Portuguese team is better than the Brazilian one?
Happy Easter everyone! It´s springtime and finally Berlin is nice and sunny. Too bad I have to stay in all the time to work but I´m not complaining. It did not leave too much time to work on this blog though and I hope I´ll do better this month. So far it doesn´t look like it.
Found this 45 in a record store for 1 Euro a couple of weeks ago. It´s a little embarrassing but the fact that I bought it tells a lot about me. Apart from the much saner image that I might have of myself, I really do seem to be one of those “completist” collectors. I would buy any record Bernhard Frank made, even if it was really, really bad.
And this is bad. Oh man, Bernhard Frank, what did you think?!! This is a long way from his cool stuff. Then again I really like this record too. Non-German speaking people might miss some of the meaning, but there are some pretty funny lines in Eingeladen (Invited to the party of Dieter and Susi). The b-side Mit anderen Worten ( In other words) is pretty standard German Schlager fare but I still feel that Bernhard Frank can do no wrong. Bernhard Frank only wrote good songs, even if they were bad.
The local Berlin Hansa label was founded in 1964 by Christian Bruhn and the sons of Will Meisel Thomas and Peter Meisel. In 1973 they started a sub-label to promote artists and music that were a little more off-the-beaten-path than their mainstream material: der andere song (The other song).
The sleeve was designed by popular cartoonist Arne (Arne Leihberg, 1912- 1988), longtime contributer to the biggest Berlin newspaper.
Eingeladen is bad, but good bad. Simply very, very catchy, so beware: listen at your own risk. You´ll have a hard time getting the song out of your ears again…