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”.
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…
Around 1960, the Hallo label out of Rastatt/ Baden-Württemberg, released around four dozen flexi discs, often containing original tunes, to go with their Hallo magazine, a rock´n´roll knock-off of Bravo. I haven´t posted any Hallo flexis, because a book about Hallo and a CD, was soon to be released. That was years ago, but so far, no book. If the book and the CD finally come out, I´ll be happy to buy a copy. Meanwhile, this Hallo flexi is fine blog material: 50 plus years old, defunct label, unknown artists, not available in digital format elsewhere.
Franz von Suppé´s Liebestraum was turned into a Twist hit in 1961 by Charly Cotton and his Twistmakers, a band led by prolific songwriter Christian Bruhn. I´ve posted a bunch of versions of Der Liebestraum als Twist over the years, by Jimmy Brown (Tempo), Bert Landers (Tip) and Bob Gerry (Baccarola and the Gary Edwards Combo (Oriole). This Accordeon-Jazz-version, typical of the 1950s trend of Jazz-takes on Classical music, predates Charly Cotton´s.
The condition of this flexible record seems to be the result of a familiar scene. Flexis were cheap products for teenagers, teenagers that lived in the same rooms with their little brothers and sisters. Like I did with my little brother until I was 13 years old. Frequently we would get in fights. I´m sorry to admit it, but my brother always lost.
In revenge, he would take his crayons and draw all over my stuff…
Just noticed that the last post was my 700th post since I started this blog in 2007. To celebrate all these wasted years, here´s another flexible Birthday 78rpm postcard record, published by the London based Melody Cards company. These postcard records offer perfect copyright-friendly blog material: anonymous artists, no copyright noted, 50 plus years old and of course never reissued.
Plus, underneath the crackles and pops, a pretty silly song.
No washboard though….
Happy, Happy Birthday!
Happy, Happy Birthday!
On this anniversary of the day that you were born.
Let´s git goin´ down the track,
Once I´se there ain´t comin´ back,
Git those presents on the rack
Of the WASHBOARD BIRTHDAY SPECIAL
In 1957 Dutch singer Corry Brokken won the second European Song Contest, the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Europénne. While she is mostly known for her smooth pop ballads, her career got started when she recorded the swingin´ Auto-Scooter´s-Boogie with Albert Van Hoogten´s small indie Ronnex in 1955. Now Ronnex was a hip label, from putting out Bill Haley´s pre-rock´n´roll sides, to Jack Hammer´s crazy twists, to the fuzzed-out beat of the Shake Spears. In the mid-1950s Albert sent his brother, Rene Jan van Hoogten, to the United States to set up a label there. Rene later changed his name to Ray Maxwell, started Moonglow Records, recorded a bunch of very cool rockin´records and eventually discovered the Righteous Brothers.
To celebrate tonight´s 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest, here´s a one-sided flexible 45, recorded by Corry Brokken and her Hi-Fives for BP in the early 1960s
In Germany being on time still means a lot. Friends still make appointments like: “Let´s meet next Friday at the big oak tree next to the railroad station at 21:45.” And then they show up at that exact minute! Likewise Germans take the reliability of public service, like the railway system, for granted. Understandably, if something goes wrong, it´s a huge disappointment,
Recently Deutsche Bahn made national headlines once again when the train station in Mainz (a city of more than 200.000 inhabitants) had to partly shut down due to most of the station´s traffic controllers being ill or on vacation. A couple of days of irregular service were called “chaos”, “crisis” and “a scandal” and caused a huge public outcry.
Here´s a look back to the past, when German trains were a lot slower but always reliable. This one-sided flexible advertisement record, made by Bundesbahn (the predecessor of Deutsche Bahn) and recorded by anonymous artists in 1966, glorifies the service, punctuality and speed of the railroad.
“Fahr lieber mit der Bundesbahn” – Take the train instead!
Here´s the film that went with the campaign in 1966:
In 2007 the Bolle Beatet Bestes flexible 45 inspired the name of this blog. Berlin bietet Bestes means “Berlin offers the best”. The record was issued by Bolle, a local chain of supermarkets. Bolle had a very long history in Berlin. Initially the company developed out of the C. Bolle dairy farm that was established in 1879 by Carl Andreas Julius Bolle. The last store closed in 2011.
There were some other 45s put out by Bolle but these two are the only flexi discs. The Bolle Beatet Bestes flexi from 1967 is the more interesting one. I put the MP3s back up, so check out the songs if you missed the post in 2007.
Until recently I never even thought about buying any of the other Bolle records, because Finnish Yenka and bogus 1960s Dixieland seemed way too boring. I´m not a completist but when I saw this one a while ago for 50 cents, I finally picked it up.
Well, it´s not a particularly noteworthy record, but it definitely is a very local Berlin artifact.