Two weeks ago, I found this record at a Berlin record convention. This promotional flexi-disc for the Berlin tobacco company of Otto Boenicke fits the framework of Berlin Beatet Bestes perfectly. The front side of the record was illustrated by Helmut Nickel. Nickel, an outstanding stylist in the German post-war adventure comic genre, was known for his instantly recognizable black and white pen work. This gouache style illustration shows, he was very good with color, too.
Born March 24, 1924 in Dresden, Helmut Nickel fought in WW II, was a prisoner of war for three years and left East-Germany for West-Berlin in 1948. To finance University, Nickel started illustrating various comics series in 1952. From 1952 to 1964 he worked on a whole series of comics, such as Robinson, Hot Jerry, Titanus, Die 3 Musketiere, Der Graf von Monte Christo and Peter’s seltsame Reisen.
( Robinson No. 84, page 11, 1958. From the collection of Hansi Kiefersauer.)
Informed by his studies, Nickel´s comics were educational, at a time when comics were still regarded as trash that was subverting the children. After finishing University in 1959, Nickel worked in a Berlin museum and then applied for a job at the New York Metropolitan Museum as a curator of the historical weapons collection. He stayed there until his retirement in 1989. Today he lives in Florida.
In 2011 Helmut Nickel was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Munich Comic Festival. Yesterday, Helmut Nickel turned 94.
The Helmut Nickel-side of this flexi is a tongue-in-cheek narration admiring the beautiful brown body of a Boenicke cigar…
Boenicke-Rumba (The song doesn´t have a title. I just called it that.)
Like many flexi discs that I´ve posted over the years this was also published by the Phonocolor company of Berlin-Lichterfelde. Phonocolor also issued the Okay Exquisit, Rondo and Topas labels.
While the Rumba-side runs at 45 rpm, the side with the cigar smoking middle-aged gentlemen runs at 33 rpm. Compared to the comissioned front, this looks like a stock illustration. The male and female narrators sound like Berlin cabaret Die Stachelschweine. Five jokes interrupted by some boogie woogie piano. Kenn´ Se den? Have you heard this one? …
Found this one-sided promotional flexi disc for Triumph´s Blues – Disco Bras in Bruxelles last year. No information about the origin of the Graduates, but from the accent of DJ John Bright who introduces the group, I´d guess they´re from South Africa.
Two funky tunes advertizing for bras. Disco bras….
Rumpelstilzchen-Boogie is a German cover version of Lou Monte´s Someone Else Is Taking You Home. The German lyrics, written by Klaus Doll and Nicolaus Hix, are completely unrelated to the original and were probably made to fit the kiddie rock´n´roll concept.
The Berlin ultra-budget flexi-label Rondo took over both sides from the Austrian Harmona 3-D label. Changing the pseudonym from Bluejean-Jenny to Susanne, the sides were also released in Austria by Schallplattengilde Gutenberg. Discogs and various German collector-sites accredit both releases to Susanne Adorjan, most likely because she was the only Susanne in the roster of both labels.
Bluejean Cinderella was originally recorded by the The Peewees (a group of kids!) for Josie Records. German lyrics were written by Horst de Gray and Tambour, who also wrote similar teenage material in 1958 for Austrian Rocker Robert Benett (“Das freu´t mich so” (Jive after Five – Carl Perkins), “Insgeheim” (Secretly -Jimmie Rogers) and “Total Verrückt” (All Shook Up – Elvis).
Rescued a bunch of “Discocarte”- postcard records on the Marolles flea market last Sunday, shortly before I saw the rest of the box getting destroyed in the rain. Kinda sad, kinda not. Most people who´ve never seen a postcard record, seem to like the idea. Like an E-mail with a picture and an MP3 attached. Only much cooler!
Until they hear the music …
The small scanner is not in the picture, but you can see me digitizing postcard records at our house in Brussels with my portable record player:
It´s been raining quite a bit here in Brussels over the past days, so here´s a record about “A Rainy Day”. Suske & Wiske is one of the most famous and successful Belgian comics series. Since its creation in 1945, it sold 145 million copies. This promotional multi-media item for kids, produced for German food brand Knorr, is a good example of Belgian multilingualism. Side A is in Flemish and side B is in French. The four-page comic insert also has speech balloons in both languages, so you can read along while you listen to the record.
If this very thin Flexi-Disc only contained spoken word adventures of Suske & Wiske, I wouln´t have recorded them. Instead, there´s a funny little tune mixed into the story. Kinda power-pop meets nerve-racking noise…
SUSKE & WISKE, De Regendag, 1978
BOB & BOBETTE, La Pluie, 1978
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…
CELAL İNCE, Dostluk Şarkısı (The Song of Friendship)
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.
Hürriyet Hakkında Meşhur Sözler
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”.
A couple of years ago, I posted a song celebrating the advantages of polyester. While the 4 Cravattos were praising Trevira, this 2-sided flexible record is promoting Diolen. Back then I wrote: ” Today trying to find synthetic clothes from the 1950s is much harder than finding flexible vinyl advertisement records from the same time.”
While that still is right, don´t get the wrong idea. These promotional flexis are still mostly worthless, because there is no market for them. Still, I bet some idiot will offer a copy on ebay soon – for 20 Euros. Of course nobody ever buys these flexi discs for 20 Euros. There´s only a handful collectors of flexis. I´m one of them and I never pay more than 1 Euro.
When will they ever learn,
that records like this one belong in the free-box….
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…