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”.
More Turkish Pop with a latin twist from the early 60s by Sevket Uğurluer. Both songs have apparently never been commercially re-released. Gözleri Aşka Gülen, a schmaltzy tune originally written by Gundogdu Duran, is given a modern reworking by Ugurluer and Friends.
The song starts with English and then turns to Turkish lyrics in the second half.
Turkish Bossa Nova…
SEVKET UGURLUER VE ARKADASLARI , Gözleri Aska Gülen, 1964
You is pure 60s US-Teen Pop…
SEVKET UGURLUER VE ARKADASLARI , You, 1964
I couldn´t find any period photos of Şevket Uğurluer and his band. Instead, I´ll post some images from one of the Akbaba (vulture) satire magazine that I bought in Istanbul this year. This issue is from June 1962. There is no signature, but I´m pretty sure that the cover was done by Necmi Riza. Riza did a lot of covers for Akbaba, that are easily recognizable by his boldly inked style.
The Lambiek Comiclopedia notes that Necmi Riza Ayça was born in Yugoslavia-Pristine in 1912 and died in 2000, while Turkish Vikipedia states he was born in 1914 and died in 2001.
In the early 1960s, Şevket Uğurluer was among the first Turkish musicians to mix traditional music with Jazz. Today Uğurluer is mostly known for his faithful renditions of US-Pop hits, most of whom have been re-released on CD.
Not this one. When recording the spiritual Josua Fit The Battle Of Jericho, Uğurluer didn´t seem to have taken the lyrics too seriously. But who cares about some slurred lines, when he and his gang play the song at such breakneck speed.
“Joshua the battle of Jerico… and the wölls came tumblin´down….”
SEVKET UGURLUER VE ARKADASLARI , Jerico, 1964
The Pete Seeger penned protest-song If I Had A Hammer was a hit for Trini Lopez in 1963. Sevket Uğurluer´s version is wrongly credited to Trini Lopez on the label, but it´s pretty close to the hit.
Except that, here Animal from the Muppet Show is on drums….
SEVKET UGURLUER VE ARKADASLARI , If I Had A Hammer, 1964
For the first time, I´m not posting a rarity but a hit record. Abidik Gubidik Twist is the Turkish Twist hit record and was also featured in two movies. However, I guess outside of Turkey few people will have heard these songs. While Turkish Psych has fans worldwide, Turkish Twist is still only known to Turks. Abidik Gubidk Twist was re-released in 2011, though buried in a 5 CD-Box of Turkish movie songs. As far as I could see Göz Göz Değdi Bana has never been commercially re-released.
Abidik Gubidik Twist (“Nonsense Twist”) first appeared in the opening scene of the 1963 film Beni Osman Öldürdü. Following its success, the song again appeared in the opening sequence of Abidik Gubidik.
Öztürk Serengil was a comedian who starred in close to 300 movies. He died in 1999 at the age of 69. His daughter Seren Serengil is also a pop singer.
This record came out through Öztürk´s own short-lived Serengil record label. A great first release that features two Turkish Twist hits. Abidik Gubidik Twist even has a nice guitar solo.
ÖZTÜRK SERENGIL, Abidik Gubidik Twist, 1964
Ajda Pekkan was only 18 when she sang Göz Göz Değdi Bana in her first film “Adanalı Tayfur”. Today Ajda Pekkan is the Turkish Superstar. Altogether she has starred in 47 films.
AJDA PEKKAN, Göz Göz Değdi Bana, 1964
Öztürk Serengil doing some wild Twist moves in the opening squence of the film “Beni Osman Öldürdü”:
I just got back from seeing the Turkish band THE RAWS at Berlin`s Wild at Heart last night . I had stopped going there since a certain international racist biker club started to hang out there and supply them with bouncers. This time I made an exception for the great RAWS from Istanbul. When I arrived they were already into their third song: Erkin Koray`s “Sana Bir Seyler Olmus”. YEAH!!!
They played a great set of their brand of Istanbul garage punk. I hope it`s not the last time I`ve seen them, although Turkish bands have a real hard time getting visas for other countries. I made this little video of them performing “Geri Döndüler” a song about zombies, sung in Turkish. At 0:50, without a word I gave the camera to my buddy A.C. , to have my hands free to rock out a bit. Let`s say, he tried to make it a little more interesting…
Next up was DEAD ELVIS AND HIS ONE MAN GRAVE. Check out his stuff! Awesome!
I also met Ronald from SQUOOGE RECORDS for the first time who has the craziest garage label at the time. Find his stuff if you can, but you have to be quick because he has very small press runs of most of his releases. THE RAWS had already sold out their share of records the second day into their tour. I hope he sends me their 45. I think I really need it…
These photos were done by Franz von Bodelschwingh who I got to know at the show. Thanks Franz!
He is a professional photographer from my hometown Hamburg, who lives in Istanbul right now and that`s where he got to be friends with THE RAWS. Check out his cool website
As I`ve written last week I have been to Istanbul 4 times in the last 3 years and have always been searching for records. I didn`t know a lot about Turkish rock or pop music so a lot of names were unfamiliar and it was hard to pick the right ones. Only the last time I found some good stuff.
Sometime last year I remembered that I had a whole box full of Turkish 45s in my basement. When my girlfriend and I moved into our apartment ten years ago, we needed some furniture and bought two very cheap 50s cocktail-armchairs in a nearby thrift-store. On the way out I spotted this box of records and asked how much they were. The owner said: “Just take them for free”. They were dusty and without sleeves but I took them all. When I got home I gave them a quick listen and was disappointed that they appeared to be just boring traditional folk music. So they went to the basement.
Last year I remembered this box and with my new knowledge about Turkish music I saw them through, cleaned them and gave them all a spin again. That`s when I discovered this great Erkin Koray 45 that I`ve had all these years and didn`t know about it!
Anybody who knows anything about Turkish rock music knows that Erkin Koray is the king of Turkish rock`n`roll. So this record is not a rarity or obscure, but a Turkish hit record. “Sana Bir Seyler Olmus” is a great cover version of “The land of a 1000 dances”, written and first recorded by Chris Kenner in 1962.
The record has a sticker from a shop in Izmir and two stamps from, I guess, the former owner, who lived just a block away from me. I went there just the other day to see if he was still living there but he must`ve moved. It`s still nice to think that some 39 years ago some Turkish people from my neighborhood rocked out to this stuff…
ERKIN KORAY, Sana Bir Seyler Olmus, 1969
ERKIN KORAY, Seni Her Gördügümde, 1969
This was hidden in the same box. “Ersen ve Dadaslar” are one of the most popular Turkish rock groups and the inventors of the “Anatolian Rock” sound, mixing traditional Turkish and rock music. Normally I don`t like so-called “World-Music” but this is still heavy on the progressive side with some psychedelic moments…
This one I bought on my first visit to Istanbul. The owner of a used-record store played it and I knew I wanted to have it. It was quite expensive, maybe 10 euros. I`m still happy that I bought it, because I know I would have regretted it if I hadn`t. Okay Temiz is a leading fusion-jazz musician who has worked with a lot of international jazz musicians in the last 40 years. His recorded output is huge.
This record on the other hand, sounds like it was made for all the freaks from western countries who hung around Istanbul at the time. Two really weird songs that only bring drugs to mind. Psychedelic…