HETTLAGE ALL-STARS, Manhattan Spiritual


Three years ago I wouln´t have looked twice at a Dixieland record. But then I found some Dixieland/Trad Jazz 45s  from the early 50s to early 60s and started to like them. So far  I haven´t met anyone who shares this interest and so far nobody snatches those 50 cents records up before I do. But it also means no communication. Punk, garage, indie or 70s rock record collectors still talk music in record shops all the time, but not Jazz fans. There might be some Dixieland fans out there, but they don´t hang out in record stores and  probably just buy CDs on Amazon. But that´s all fine with me. When I buy 45s by Edmond Hall, Bunk Johnson, George Lewis or Sidney Bechet, I do it unsupervised and without any competition by other collectors. Right now Dixieland means worthless. Nobody seems to care for this stuff and that goes double for 1950s Traditional Jazz groups from Europe and triple for anything that only loosely had the Dixieland tag attached to.

Like this record by Hettlage-All-Stars. Hettlage, founded in 1896, was a German clothing retail company that went bankrupt in 2004. In the 50s, when they were still doing good business and operated a number of clothing stores, they chose teenager´s favorite product, the 7″ record, to advertize their new Twenty clothing line for teenagers. They could have put some Rock´n´Roll or simply Schlager songs on the record but they decided to put two Jazz hits on a very thin piece of plastic and to make the package look a little cooler, opted for a thick cardboard sleeve and a design that incorporated an abstract painted for a background, some stylized musical instruments and a silhouette of a trumpet player on the label, that is reminiscent of the logo that David Stone Martin designed for Noman Granz Clef label.

Manhattan Spiritual was a hit for Reg Owen and his orchestra in 1959, which peaked at  #10 in the Billboard Hot 100. Whereas Reg Owens original Big Band Swing version had a bold brass section, the Hettlage All-Stars small combo version makes quite effective use of piano and clarinet improvisations. Not bad at all for an anonymous band playing on a flexible throw-away advertisement record…

HETTLAGE ALL-STARS, Manhattan Spiritual

HETTLAGE ALL-STARS, When The Saints Go Marching In

The models (Heinz Feldhaus, who is holding the Hettlage All-Stars record sleeve,  and actor Margita Scherr) are standing in front of an air-brushed record rack holding funny looking cell phones to their ears…



NINA WINTER, Der Führerschein, 1941

Two weeks ago I found this transparent flexible 10″ record in an antique book store. The material the record is made of seems to be some sort of plastic, that is much lighter than shellac. On this home recording a certain Nina Winter is reading a poem in celebration of her friend Maria “Mitzi” Lichtenegger passing her driving test on October 25, 1941 at the driving school Suchanka in Mariahilf, Vienna. The rhymes reveal that Mitzi´s husband had already passed the test before her and that her driving instructor Mr. Fischer, though a rigorous and earnest man, was quite pleased with her. That´s about all the personal information I could gather from the record.

It´s a glimpse into the private lives of ordinary people in war time Vienna. While millions were expelled, killed and put into concentration camps, others were obviously still passing the time with making their drivers licenses, writing poems about it and then even having them recorded….

NINA WINTER, Der Führerschein, 1941

Rock-A-Boogie Birthday Rock

With this short little rock´n´roll song I´d like to celebrate the birth of  my “new” blog! Just saw this hanging on the wall of a antique bookstore in my neighborhood last week and took it home for a measly 2 euros and fifty cents.

By coincidence it exemplifies the sort of copyright friendly material I was writing about in #2  of the blog ethics. The cardboard record was issued by a defunct “record company” and  recorded by anonymous artists. There is no mention of copyright anywhere on the card either and it is definitely more than fifty years old, because it runs on 78 rpm, a format discontinued in most western countries by 1960.

The perfect birthday song for rockin´and rollin´teenagers! And old geezers too…

“Hep-Heppy Birthday to you!”

“Hep-Heppy Birthday to you!”

You ain´t no square! And I know that!

Let down your hair! You´re the coolest cat!

Push back the chairs! Get yer carpet rolled!

Just ROCK!. . . . .  And you´ll never grow old!

Rock-A-Boogie Birthday Rock


Synthetic fabric was all the rage in the late 50s/early 60s because it didn´t wrinkle and didn´t need ironing. It was also much cheaper to produce than cotton. But a side effect was that the clothes also prevented the air from circulating and then they started to smell faster and feel itchy. Well, maybe the fashion wasn´t fully developed yet. Today trying to find synthetic clothes from the 1950s is much harder than finding flexible vinyl advertisement records from the same time.

Now it is considered to be an advancement to make rooms air-tight, thinking it will save energy and reduce costs. Air-tight trains are supposed to save energy and go much faster. I loved to travel by train, when they still had small compartments with windows you could pull down for fresh air and of course somewhere to smoke. Now that was comfortable. Today,  I refuse to take the train for travels longer than two hours. I wanna get it over with as quickly as possible and take the plane, which is wasting much more energy.

Same with today´s air-tight apartments. Our house it one hundred years old with old-style double glass windows. Some slight breeze that creeps though the cracks always keeps the air circulating. When I´m staying in a modern apartment or a hotel,  I always get a feeling of suffocating at night. Instead of saving energy, I wind up sleeping with an open window. Of course with full-blown heating.

Ah, modern times…

So here´s a song celebrating the advantages of polyester:




Eine kleine Fachplauderei


A very common series of German advertisement flexible records, that  I keep finding, was put out by the Servas shoe company, once one of Germany´s leading shoe manufacturers. According to a 1970 article in Spiegel magazine Servas had a business volume of 100 million Deutschmarks  and produced 15 million shoes per year. Today it is reduced to a factory outlet.

This was their very first release on a very thin one-sided flexible disc, in fact so thin that it took hours to digitize this one track.  The otherwise perfectly flat record would not keep skipping until I found just the right weight of  the tone arm. As you can see on the scan, the label could be modified with a sticker so that each shoe store that sold Servas shoes would have their own name on the record, as in this case “Stiller, Berlin”. The Berlin store still exists in Friedrichstrasse, one of Berlin´s main shopping streets.

Of all the Servas songs I know, this is the only one that actually centers around Servas shoes in the lyrics. Other records just mention Servas in the introduction and at the end of the record. I have no idea who Hemut Siggi was or the orchestra backing him. Again Dixie is spelled wrong and the music can only loosely be called dixieland, but there´s some nice jazz, scat-vocals and lotsa schlager here:


DIXILAND, Saints Go Marching In

A pretty forgettable version of a song that´s been done to death, no names given of anyone who is playing it and a very bad condition of the grooves on this flexible disc, but somehow I liked the small 6″ cardboard format and the image enough to take it home for a measly 50 cents.

DIXILAND,  Saints Go Marching In

BESSER WOHNEN MIT DINETT, Serenade In Swing, 1960

This flexible disc was produced as a gift to the sellers of  the “Dinett” trolley table made by the furniture company Bremshey out of Solingen. Bremshey was a family business that operated from 1862 up to 1982. In 1932 they were the first to mass produce a small folding umbrella they named “Knirps” (scrub). In the mid 50s Bremshey started to produce the rolling folding table “Dinett”.

Besides the subtitle calling the song a “swing classic”, I couldn´t find any mention of a song called  “Serenade in Swing” on the Internet. There is however a short music film from 1942 called “Serenade In Swing” starring Jan Savitt and his orchestra,  Martha Tilton, Kenny Stevens and the vocal groups Six Hits and A Miss and the Rhythm Rascals.

The first side is a cover version of the instrumental hit record “Wheels” by the String-A-Longs from Texas, interrupted three times (!) by the good wishes of the Bremshey company. Aside: contrary to what is written on the label, Norman Petty, who produced many of Buddy Holly´s records,  did not write “Wheels” but only recorded it in his studio in Clovis, New Mexico.

The company that produced this record no longer exists and the label does not even say who played on it or if  the songs were even recorded by the same group. All public and commercial interest in it seems to have been  abandoned 52 years ago.

And for a good reason. I paid 50 cents for it a couple of weeks ago in a local thrift store and that´s still more than a free giveaway record should be:

BESSER WOHNEN MIT DINETT, Serenade In Swing, 1960


KID ORBIS AND HIS SWING-OCTET, Nussknacker-Suite, 1958

For some reason I´ve been “collecting” these Delta-Ton flexi-dics over the past.  I liked the first Delta release that I found , so I picked up another one the next time I came across it.  Collecting flexi-discs is a little embarrassing, because the majority of them are promotional items. It´s like collecting stamps. Apart from small group of like-minded weirdos, nobody seems to care for these wobbly little things. Luckily at least the music on these Delta-Ton flexi-discs has never been re-released, which makes it excellent copyright-friendly material for this blog.

In the 1950s small independent record labels like the Delta-Ton Label out of Düsseldorf were trying to undercut the booming record business by selling their records cheaper than the average four Deutschmark.  Flexible records would be sold at newsstands for something like one Deutschmark. Cheapo labels mostly released  versions of hit songs recorded by no-name artists. But sometimes they did actually release original material, like in the case of Kid Orbis.

The name Kid Orbis can be found on quite a few cheapo releases on various German labels like Delta-Ton, Opera, Tip Top and Universumin. Likely chosen to sound like legendary jazz trombonist Kid Ory,  the man behind the pseudonym Kid Orbis was actually Wolfgang “Wolf”  Gabbe. According to Wikipedia Wolf Gabbe, born April 28, 1924 in Berlin, first worked as an auto-mechanic before taking evening classes to become a drummer. After 1945 he started to play in swing and dance bands and made his first recording for the East-German Amiga label in 1948. Gabbe´s “Radio-Star-Band” remained a fixture in Berlin into the 60s. By the way, you might want to check out another Wolf Gabbe advertisement record that I posted some years ago here: “Hully-Gully-TÖFF-TÖFF” released in 1961 on the local Rondo-Exquisit label.

Now maybe my taste is a little messed-up from listening to too many of these records, but I think Kid Orbis two takes on Tchaikovsky´s Nutcracker are kinda cool. I like  the arrangement and there is some nice guitar work thrown in.

As well as some ticks and hisses…

KID ORBIS AND HIS SWING-OCTET, Nussknacker-Suite I, 1958

KID ORBIS AND HIS SWING-OCTET, Nussknacker-Suite II, 1958