Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle, Vitamin A, Stromspere and Ixtoc-1 were part of the scene of the first Berlin DIY punk venue KZ 36 (36 – old zip code of Kreuzberg, KZ short for “Kulturzentrum”). In its short existence between 1980 and 1982, Karl Walterbach – a guy ten years older than most of the teenage punks of the collective – managed to release two KZ 36 albums that documented the bands from that scene. Volume II also features RZSK, Vitamin A, Stromsperre and Ixtoc-1. Walterbach later capitalized on the booming German amateur-punk movement through his label Aggressive Rockproduktionen. Tired of being exploited, the four bands took a radical anti-commercial stance and formed their own collective – VISA-Tonkooperative (Vitamin A, Ixtoc-1, Stromsperre and initially Actosin Pervers. When they broke up, Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle stepped in). In 1982, they put out this political DIY punk record.
The complete works of Stromsperre and Vitamin A have been re-released on vinyl in the early 2000s by the Berlin punks of Rotten Totten Records. Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle and Ixtoc-1 have not been re-released. After more than 30 years, I think it´s time to take a closer look.
Like many other punk bands, members of Stromsperrre and Vitamin A grew up in Berlin-Gropiusstadt, the high-rise ghetto made famous by Christiane F. It still makes my mind boggle, how politicized these ghetto-teenagers were. Nurtured by Social-Democrat politics, leftist teachers and the very visible 1970s radical movement of Berlin, these guys were decidedly brave and idealistic. In the 1980s, the conservative backlash changed German society. In general, working class kids were no longer encouraged to get higher education. Today, this type of politicized working-class teenager has vanished. In fact, teenagers today don´t seem to claim any identity of their own. When I became a Teddy Boy and later discovered Hardcore-Punk, I was 14 and 16. We were all just kids. Working class kids met with rich kids through youth-subcultures. Today´s kids mostly stay were they were put by their parents. I´m stressing the word “kids”, because you can hear it on the record. Beside all the serious politics there´s a lot of goofy kids stuff on this record.
Like this short a capella introduction by Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle:
Metamorphose should have been a hit. The saxophone gives it a post-punk feel, but it is also a political song full of bitter sarcasm:
“Soon we´ll be at the end/ Of the great experiment/ We´ll love the taste of gasoline/ We´ll need exhaust fume to breathe/ Onward, onward to the next step of metamorphosis”
Despite their silly and misleading name, Rucki Zucki Stimmungskapelle were the most musically and lyrically ambitious of the four bands. Their songs Clockwork (Uhrwerk) and Softanimals are also the only non-topical songs.
“People are scared/ Afraid to walk the streets/ I´m a colourful rocking horse/ And I´ll lend you my super-ego/ I wear a red striped shirt/ And I´m eating mom´s mail”
Softanimals is a direct translation of the German “Weichtiere”, so called Mollusca – spineless animals like snails, clams and octopuses. A funny song on a serious topic:
“Soft animlas have a hard life/…/ That´s why everbody wants to be hard and angular”
Another goofy bit by RZSK. You can hear that these guys are not some West-German small town transplants, but local Berlin teenagers.
The door is locked. Their buddy “Duffy” is sent to get a key….
Ixtoc-1 named themselves after a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on 3 June 1979, shortly before they were forming. Again, despite its clever political implications, Ixtoc-1 was not a good choice for a punk band name. Ölpest (Oil Spill) would have been better. Or Katastrophe. Or Blowout. The band also recorded the 12″ Gut ist was modern ist in 1982, that was more refined and progressive, while still largely remaining punk. Why Do Things Have To Change blog posted it in February and you can get it here. The early Ixtoc-1 is a great mix of political and goofy:
Staat (The State) is an anarchist song:
“Greed rules the world/ Anything and anybody is for sale/Corruption in politics/ People want to govern people/ That´s what they call democracy/ I hardly ever works/ The good thing about the state is/ Death!”
Von oben (From The Top) is another anarchist song:
“What´s you life worth?/ Do you have the right to exist?/From the top / They want to control you/ You´re not supposed to think”
Teenage Love is a song about masturbation.
Teenager indeed! Very young looking Ixtoc-1 vocalist Harald Gantzberg on the cover of a book about punk (Last Exit. Punk, Leben im toten Herz der Städte, Rowohlt 1982).
By coincidence, I found a profile and a photo of Ixtoc-1 in a Berlin rock music guide (Rock City Berlin – Das aktuelle Handbuch der Berliner Szene, 1985), that I bought some years ago in a local second-hand book store. By then, vocalist Harald Gantzberg had left the band. Incidentally, today Harald works as an editor in the comic book field! The line-up was Mathias Klötzke, bass: Lutz Werner, drums; Christian Werner, guitar. In 1984 the group was among the top-20 at the annual Senats-Rock-Wettbewerb, a government-funded battle of the bands. “Our music is a combination of entertainment and modesty. We´ve known each other since elementary school.”
Ixtoc-1 broke up in 1985.
Discogs says that the booklet that came with the LP has 18-pages, Sadly, mine is missing 6 pages. Stromsperre contributes a lot of small type anarchist writing. Their slogan is: “Musik als Waffe” – Music as a Weapon.
Simply called Privatpressung, this my be one of the most private of German private pressing. It was indeed so secret, that the producers didn´t even include any information regarding the artists, authors, song titles, nor where and when they were recorded. The back of the sleeve is blank, same as the label.
The front cover contains anything but the most telling: a photo of a topless girl holding three 45s, strangely all by the Tempo label, at the time of this release – in the late 60s/early 70s, I assume – still one of Germany´s biggest budget labels. And a disclaimer…
By buying this record I declare that I´m of legal age, that I will only use this record privately and will not make it accessible to anyone below the age of 21. I declare furthermore that I will not be offended by the record that I bought.
People probably bought this record in an adult store or by mailorder, so they knew what they were getting. Honestly, forty years after these songs were recorded, they still make me blush. If you do not know German, they may just sound like a bunch of folk songs sung by a male-female duo, but believe me, they´re very filthy.
So be warned! If you click here: Don´t be offended…
The old sheik of Istanbul, was written by German songwriting team Georg Buschor and Christian Bruhn. Probably just a quickly assembled flip for the A-side – a cover of Bob Azzam´s hit record Ya Mustafa – the record was released in 1960, the year of the first Turkish coup. The lyrics of Der alte Scheich deal with typical period far-east exoticism. A fictious sheik of Istanbul visits Europe to find out that Western habits are much stricter than Turkish habits. A little far fetched, even back then. Habits and laws have always been much stricter in Turkey. Today, the “new sheik of Istanbul” is even talking about reinstating the death penalty.
Gerd Fitz strarted his career in the early 50s in the trio Das Fitzett, together with his brother Walter and his sister-in-law Molly. From the mid-50s to the 60s he started a solo career, mainly recording for the budget Tempo. Like many other artists, Gerd Fitz lived too early in the post-war age. When Rock´n´Roll came around he was no longer teenage-material. He still recorded some rock, like a cover of Peter Kraus´Mach’ Dich Schön (Treat Me Nice).
In the 70s he started yet another career as an actor in supporting roles. The Fitz family has a long history in German show business. Niece Lisa Fitz is a stand-up comedian and his son Michael is also an actor. Aged 85, Gerd Fitz died in May 2015.
Not surprisingly, these songs have never been re-released in 56 years. If you can see past the naive racism, Der alte Scheich is a jolly little tune. I like it…
Wie war das mit dem Scheich? Wie war das mit dem Scheich? Die Sache mit dem alten Scheich erzähl ich euch sogleich. Der alte Scheich von Istanbul, der ging auf große Fahrt. Er setzte seinen Turban auf und kämmte seinen Bart. Doch bei der ersten Zollstation, da war es schon passiert. Er zog den Hut, der Schmuck fiel raus und wurde konfisziert. So streng sind hier die Bräuche. Das hasste nun davon, ohweiawei! Da lob ich mir die Bräuche, die Bräuche der Türkei. Wie war das mit dem Scheich? Wie war das mit dem Scheich?
Was mit dem Scheich noch weiter war, erzähl ich euch sogleich. Der alte Scheich von Istanbul kam in die Stadt Paris. Und sah drei schöne Mädchen geh´n , die waren zuckersüß. Er sagte: „Bald soll Hochzeit sein, ich nehm euch alle drei.“ Da schrien die Mädchen: „Unerhört! Wir geh´n zur Polizei!“ So streng sind hier die Bräuche. Das hasste nun davon, ohweiawei! Da lob ich mir die Bräuche, die Bräuche der Türkei. Wie war das mit dem Scheich? Wie war das mit dem Scheich?
Was mit dem Scheich noch weiter war, erzähl ich euch sogleich. Der alte Scheich von Istanbul traf eine Maid in Bonn. Die lief vor einem Wolkenbruch im Sommerkleid davon. Er bot ihr seinen Regenschirm und wollte höflich sein. Da rief das Mädchen:“Danke schön. Hier darf man sich nichts leih´n.“ So streng sind hier die Bräuche. Das hasste nun davon, ohweiawei! Da lob ich mir die Bräuche, die Bräuche der Türkei. Wie war das mit dem Scheich? Wie war das mit dem Scheich?
Wie war das mit dem Scheich?
Er flog auf seinem Teppich gleich, zurück ins Türkenreich.
I usually only post records by artists that are either anonymous or pseudonymous or dead or no longer active. I will keep true to that guideline, but I´ll make an exception with this privately pressed 45 just because I like it. Also, the songs have never been re-released, so basically nobody heard them since 1981.
After I bought the record last week at a local Kreuzberg flea market, I checked the Internet and immediately the name of Peter Gentsch, guitarist and vocalist with Leib & Seele came up. Now in his late 60s, Peter is still active and living in Kreuzberg. The Saturns, the Dreamers, the Kids, Ballads, Reaction, Mercurys – his website lists a whole bunch of Berlin groups he´s played in since 1962! The guy is a walking monument of Berlin rock history.
So, here´s some late Krautrock from Leib & Seele – body and soul. Kreuzberglied deals with living close to the Berlin Wall, deep in the heart of Kreuzberg. It´s an authentic early 80s Kreuzberg anthem, even down to the Berlin accent.
Hope you don´t mind me posting this, Peter…
“Ick wohn in Berlin, gleich an der Mauer,/ im tiefsten Kreuzberg, noch was genauer,/ Inne Wiener Strasse, im 4. Stock./ Und massenhaft Leute und Spatzen sind im Block./ Und tausend Hunde,/ was sag´ick, dit sinn noch viel mehr./ Renn ick über de Strasse,/ kommt er hinter mir her./ Und ick krieg Schiss, vor Gebell und Gebiss. / Und hör noch sofort,/ dasser janz harmlos is´./
Und fahr´ ick mit der U-Bahn,/ Kontrolle kommt rein./ Denk ick: So´ne Scheisse,/ muss dass denn sein?/ Die Jungs steh´n vor mir,/ woll´n die Fahrscheine seh´n./ Ick sag´ mir bleib´ ruhig,/ hab´ ja sowieso kehn./
So wohn´ ick in Berlin,/ gleich an der Mauer./ Im tiefsten Kreuzberg,/noch was genauer./ Inne Wiener Strasse, im 4. Stock./ Und massenhaft Leute und Spatzen sind im Block.”
I wore one of those german Bundeswehr parkas in the late seventies too.
Only, I was just 12 years old…
A krautrocker´s chocolate bar? The Topset chocolate bar seems to have vanished from the market quickly, at least I can not remember it and I was 8 years old in 1974, a perfect customer for chocolate bars. I guess I was more into Kinderschokolade.
I posted another promotional 45 by Joy Unlimited in 2008.
“Was heisst´n das, groovy?”
“Topset ist groovy!”
Nice water color drawing here on the sleeve, but with a classic “mistake” by the artist. Whenever I have drawn guitars like this, the musicians complained: ” That´s wrong! Why do the guitars have no strings?”
Titi is Tweety in french. It is also a nick name – short for Thierry. But who is this mysterious Sombrero-wearing Titi? He sings with an obvious french accent and the picture sleeve shows him busking on the streets, but then both songs were recorded in a studio with some noise and applause mixed in later on One Man Band. Also, Titi claims to play horn, flute, guitar and bass in the song, unfortunately, the production does not make it sound like that. So don´t expect the raw noise of Hasil Atkins, John Schooley, Reverend Beat-Man, Dead Elvis, Bloodshot Bill or any other Squoodge Records One Man Bands….
These are nice songs though, that have not been re-released since 1974. The B-side Wohin soll das führen even has some surprisingly up-to date lyrics about gentrification and the radical demolition of old buildings and construction mania in inner cities like Berlin…
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….
PARTY! Now, that´s a cool name for a label. With a name like that you´d expect full colour picture sleeves, but unfortunately the ones I´ve seen have plain type-only designs. All Party releases seem to feature Loretta, so likely the label was a vehicle for her career. Local budget-stars Bob Gerry (Werner Hass), the Moonlights and the Columbinos also appear on Party releases. Günter Pätzold, who backs Loretta with his orchestra, began recording for Odeon in the late 1940s. He co-wrote Küß Mich Heiß (as Petzold) for the Heinz-Becker Barquintett for the Amiga label, incidentally, a group Fritz Wölffer played guitar in. Pätzold also recorded for the local cheapo flexi disc-label Okay.
Du allein was written by Pätzold, Loretta and a certain van Holsten, while Frage nicht nach meinen Traeumen was written for Loretta by Bruno Balz and Heino Gaze, two very successful German songwriters. Heino Gaze (1908-1967) wrote the music to around 600 German hit songs, like La-Le-Lu, Kalkutta liegt am Ganges, and Shake Hands, a hit for Drafi Deutscher. Bruno Balz (1902-1988) wrote the lyrics to more than a thousand hit songs, a lot of them together with Michael Jary. He especially wrote for Zarah Leander, but carried on until the mid-60s with such hits as Mäcki Boogie, Berlin bleibt doch Berlin! and Mama for child star Heintje. Bruno Balz was a very interesting character and I recommend to read his full story on Wikipedia.
Both songs have a pretty big production for a small label, that contrast with Loretta´s unique voice.
Now, who is this mysterious Loretta?
Party PD 2713, A-Side: Loretta (Günter Pätzold mit senem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights) – Quando… Quando… / B-Side: Bob Gerry und die Moonlights – Luana (Komm heute Nacht zu mir)
Party PD 2714, A-Side: Loretta – Eine Insel für zwei/ B-Side: Günter Pätzold – Paris (Guenter Pätzold mit seinem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights)
Party PD 2715, A-Side: Loretta – Frage nicht nach meinen Tränen/ B-Side: Lotetta- Du allein (Guenter Pätzold mit seinem Tanzorchester und die Moonlights)