In 1966, a local radical leftist theatre group re-invented theatre for children. Despite criticism from the conservative mainstream, the socially conscious plays of Grips theatre became increasingly popular. Kids like me, who grew up in the early 70s, especially loved the bold and very catchy Grips songs, that were mostly written by Volker Ludwig and Birger Heymann.
In the mid-70s Grips also started to write plays for teenagers. Grips produced a number of actors who later became famous. Heinz Hoenig (leaning over the bench, wearing sneakers) played in Die schönste Zeit im Leben, three years later he starred in Das Boot as Maat (Petty Officer) Hinrich.
These are great songs that do not deserve to be forgotten. Unfortunately so far nobody has cared to re-issue them.
( Im November 2013 schrieb ich über diese Platte bereits in der Jungle World den Text Herz, was willst du mehr. )
The very first record that I posted in 2007 was similar to this one, in that it was also local, political and privately pressed. While the former was anarchist, this is a straight communist record. It was issued to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Freie Deutsche Jugend Westberlins (FDJW), the youth organization of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Westberlins (SEW). The Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin was more or less a Berlin branch of the SED, the governing party of East-Germany.
In short, these cats were West Berlin fans of communist East Germany. After reunification, the party quickly dissolved. Not surprisingly, it was later revealed that East Germany had financed the party with more than 10 million German marks a year. I´m sure none of that money went into the making of this record. It´s got the touch of a genuine DIY project, from the “graphics” on the front sleeve, to the paper of the labels and the lack of any address or copyright. To say this release looks private, is an understatement, it looks clandestine.
Musically both bands are close to the radical leftist Krautrock of fellow locals Lokomotive Kreuzberg and Floh de Cologne (from Cologne). Recorded in 1977, these guys were not into fun stuff like Blitzkrieg Bop or sniffin´glue, but 37 years later their earnest commie rock is a lot funnier than most Berlin punk records of that period…
(Ein kurzer Text über diese Platte erschien am 22. Mai als Folge 242 meiner Berlin Beatet Bestes Kolumne in der Wochenzeitung Jungle World, nachzulesen hier.)
It´s hard to believe today, that Germany´s “Bible Belt”, way down in the south, used to be a hotbed of communist activity, dating back to the Bavarian Soviet Republic of 1918/1919. In the late 1960s, a group of communist musicians, the Münchner Songgruppe, were still rallying for the revolution.
Dürer-Lied deals with the public celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Sung in Franconian dialect, it claims that, in contrast to the official appraisal by the Bavarian upper class and conservative political elite, “Dürer´s warm painter´s heart was close to the peasants.” It points out, that the capitalists do not own Dürer and that “Not before that mob is gone, will we, the workers – the peasants of today – finally “own” Dürer. Everything for the workers – Nothing for the corporations. You don´t own shit!
“…und Euch gehört ein Dreck!”
Recorded live in Nürnberg in 1971.
Lied vom Bayernland is a bold criticism of the ownership structure in Bavaria. The catchy chorus links the notorious head of the Bavarian governement Franz Josef Strauß and his “gang” to the Neo-Nazis, calling them “Bavaria´s worst plague”.
“Strauß und seine Bazis/ und die Neo-Nazis, / die sind Bayern größe Plag.”
Recorded live at the Arbeiterlieder-Festival in Essen in 1970.
The leftist Pläne label was most probably the oldest German independent label. Founded in 1961, their records were initially sold independently through grass roots distribution. In the 1980s it changed distribution to Rough Trade, still mostly focusing on political singer-songwriter material, but also releasing a heap of extraordinary rock, jazz, and even some punk/new wave records. Almost unnoticed by the German entertainment industry, Pläne went out of business, after 50 years, in 2011.
During the 1970s it was vice versa: the conservatives were always struggling to kick the social democrats out of office. But no matter how catchy their songs were, they failed each time.
“Das Lied vom politischen Frühling” – The song of political springtime.
“Komm aus deiner linken Ecke” – Come out of your left corner.
Another flexible record, this one advertizing for a political program: the Leber-Plan. Georg Leber (1920 – 2012), a German social democratic politician, was Minister for Transportation from 1966 to 1972. When in the late 60s the volume of traffic on the German Autobahn reached a unmanageable size for the first time, Leber introduced a plan to minimize cargo transportation. The idea was to have freight traffic largely done by train instead of trucks. Well, as we see today, the plan never made it. Traffic jams have become a part of everyday life and trucks still keep clogging the highways…
The practical purpose of this record – campaigning for the Leber-Plan – is not explained on the sleeve, apart from a girl in a mini-dress getting into a car on the front, and a speeding train of the Bundesbahn on the back, but is reflected in the length of the political lyrics.
The obscure singer Karl Gross was a man of many trades and names, alternatively calling himself either Karl, Carl, or Charly Gross. He recorded quite a number of equally obscure schlager records for big labels like Polydor, Ariola and Philips, for smaller labels like Bella Musica, Populaer, Saba, and Linda and even budgets like Neckermann and Starlet. I posted one of his Metronome 45s in 2009 Carl Gross & Die Flaschenkinder – Wir Sind Die Flaschenkinder/Wum Wum Wum. No idea when this commissioned work came out, but I´d guess in 1969 or 1970. Musically this is pretty much in the Heino school of German schlager.
Last year I found a whole bunch of Danish 78s in a local thrift store and then already posted Eddie Russell´s version of “Blazin´ The Trail”. Eddie Russell (1908-86) was a popular Danish singer from the 40s to the 70s and recorded over 400 sides. Sadly only a handful of these have ever been been reissued. I found a few Youtube videos of his 78s playing and one CD of what sounded like his 60s material. But no Eddie Russell on Wikipedia, Discogs or any other fan site.
Now here´s another Stalin related record from the same bunch of Danish 78s that I found last year, like the majority of the them, issued by the Tono label, the most important Danish record label until the late 50s. “Stalin og Truman og Churchill og mig” (Stalin and Truman and Churchill and me) was recorded most probably right after the Allied Liberation of Denmark in the summer of 1945.
Two cheerful tunes that celebrate the fact that Denmark finally got rid of the fascists….
Just found this 78rpm record last week in a local antique book store together with the rock´n´roll birthday card/record. It´s a nice little oddity from Berlins musical past: the youth choir of the Central German Broadcasting system singing two odes to Joseph Stalin.
The record was released probably between 1949 and 1951 by Ernst Busch, one of Germany´s foremost interpreters of political songs. Busch set up the first record label in communist East-Germany in 1946. In 1953 his own comrades turned his company into into a soviet style people-owned enterprise, a Volkseigener Betrieb. A lifelong communist, Busch had fled Nazi Germany in 1933, settled in the Soviet Union, fought in the Spanish Civil War, fled from Franco´s Nationalist to Belgium and was interned by the Germans and later imprisoned in France and Berlin. Freed by the Soviet army in 1945, he settled in East-Berlin.
After the fall of the wall in 1989 and the collapse of the communist system, most of the former people-owned enterprises were bought by private businesses. Today the exact same people that own the rights to the songs of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, own the catalog of Ernst Busch´s communist record label. Pretty funny that capitalists now also own these commie propaganda songs. Of course these two Stalin love songs, recorded by a group of unknowns, at an unknown date more than 60 years ago, in a political system hostile to the one we live in today, have never been reissued.
Lied über Stalin
Musik: Ferencz Szabo
Text: M. Inyushkin und Erich Weinert
Es schwingt über Gipfel und Täler und Auen
mit Schwingen des Adlers ein herrliches Lied.
Das Lied über Stalin, dem alle vertrauen,
zu dem wir in Liebe und Freundschaft erglühn.
Wir lassen mit Stolz unser Sturmlied erklingen.
Wir führen zum Siege den Stalinschen Plan.
Wenn wir unser glückliches Leben besingen,
wir wissen, mit wem wir das Tagwerk getan.
Es schwingt über Gipfel und Täler und Auen,
wo Flieger sich grüßen in Wolken und Wind,
das Lied über Stalin, dem alle vertrauen,
dem alle wir treu und verantwortlich sind.
Song about Stalin
With the swings of an eagle, a glorious song
is swinging over mountain tops and valleys and meadows .
A song about Stalin, who everyone trusts,
for whom we are burning with love and friendship.
Proudly we sing our battle song.
We ´ll lead Stalin’s plan to victory.
While we sing about our fortunate lives,
we´ll know with whom we have done our day´s work.
Swinging over mountain tops and valleys and meadows,
where flyers greet in clouds and wind,
is the song about Stalin,
who everyone trusts,
who we are all true and responsible to.
Interesting aside: If you look a litle closer at the label of the the A-Side “Lied über Stalin” above, you will notice a light blue shade of another label that seems to be glued under it. Because I was curious, I reversed the scan with Photoshop and it revealed the words Jazz-Harmonika and Albert Vossen.
After a little Internet research I found the record on Ebay. It´s “Komm´ zurück “ (Come back) by popular West-German jazz-accordionist Albert Vossen mit seinen Tanz-Rhythmikern with vocals by (Rudi) Schuricke Terzett. Indeed this is a Telefunken label from before 1945. Because of the shortage of shellac in the post-war years, old shellac records were often used to produce new ones. But paper was equally short. This is probably an example of the back sides of old labels being used.
(From my GDR collection, an advertisement for the HO Industriewaren, the state-owned retail business, on Stalinallee. Formerly Große Frankfurter Strasse, the street was renamed in honour of Stalin´s 70th birthday on December 21, 1949. Again renamed in 1961 to Karl-Marx-Allee, after loving Stalin went out of style, the huge boulevard still exists in all its pompous socialist glory today.
“Do you know the biggest shop-window? From Strausberger Platz to Proskauer Strasse (Niederbarnim Strasse)… extend our special business outlets. Shop after shop, window after window, through which you will see our rich range of goods.”)
By the way, before anyone gets any wrong ideas…
The only Stalin I´m interested in, is this Stalin:
After funny football fado, here is funny political fado. After the Carnation Revolution of April 1974 the whole country was celebrating the end of the oldest European dictatorship and the beginning of a new era.
Ser fascista is making fun of the fascists. A beautiful song just like the other three….