He´s been in the business for 50 years and has sold millions of records. He´s also the most famous incredibly strange artist from Germany. Jello Biafra is a big fan. I´m not going to write his name in full, because – contrary to my usual policy – this artist is still very much alive and working. In fact, since he re-invented himself two years ago he´s been very successful, and now appears on German television every week. Since this blog deals with odd German records, it was inevitable that I finally came to the undisputed king of German musical weirdness. You know who I´m talking about….
So, this is the first record ( self-published by Dieter Wolf, the Ok-Singers´ guitarist) that our man was ever involved with. The group recorded two more 45s for Vogue and Electrola, but none of them have ever been reissued commercially. The two tracks are risqué “Stimmungslieder” with a rock´n´roll twist. While his solo career was largely built “in contrast to the modern beat hysteria” (according to the liner notes from his first LP), this record, that features a cartoon girl in a mini-skirt, shows that he had an early brush with it.
Risqué songs, rock´n´roll, cartoon – now, that makes it pretty much…
A PERFECT RECORD!
On September 10th, 1966 Karl Mildenberger´s most important fight against Muhammad Ali took place in the Frankfurt Waldstadion. The German heavyweight boxer lasted twelve rounds, until the referee took him out, because of a cut above his left eye.
This Muhammad Ali-themed Hippo Records 45 might have been released in reference to this epic fight. Valdor´s Ali Shuffle though, is not connected to Alvin Cash´s soul track Doin´ The Ali Shuffle and I´m The Greatest is not the ska song of the same name, recorded by Ross McManus And The Joe Loss Blue Beats. Ross McManus, the father of Elvis Costello.
Co-written by Frank Valdor and Joe Menke, ex-husband of Nana Gualdi, these two humorous tunes are both in the snappy orchestra style Frank Valdor was known for, and have not been re-issued since 1966.
This 45, released by Hippo Records in 1966, is the soundtrack to the German B film “Schwarzer Markt der Liebe”. The tiny Hippo label was founded by Frank Valdor (1937-2013), once one of Germany´s busiest orchestra leaders, who ran the label into the 1980s. The film features local Berlin nightclub owner/ playboy Rolf Eden in one of the main parts. Eden still occasionally appears on German television. This great action-packed B movie, that came out on DVD last year, unfortunately does not.
The movie´s theme-song, Black Market, is sung or simply moaned, in a style somewhere between Astrud Gilberto and Jane Birkin, by German singer and actress Nana Gualdi (1932-2007). Gualdi was married to German song-writer and producer Joe Menke for a short time. Joe Menke will be in my next Hippo Records post. Nana Gualdi also had a relationship with orchestra leader Benny de Weille.
Shotgun, by the anonymous “Shot-Guns”, is a beat version of the hit song by Jr. Walker and his Allstars.
Both songs have not been officially re-issued for almost 50 years and are not commercially available anywhere.
“Medley” sounds bad, as does “accordion”, and it sure is bad: It sounds nothing like ska. Fittingly, the record is also seriously warped and I couldn´t fix the sound.
At least, you´re not likely to hear this unsteady-sounding ersatz-rocksteady anywhere else either…
Like, it´s art!
I already posted this German version of Shame & Scandal back in 2009. Botho Lucas (1923-2012) had a long career recording and performing with his Botho-Lucas-Chor. In contrast to what the girl and the juke box on the record sleeve suggests, Lucas himself was in his early 40s when he recorded this German ska song. Still, his version seems much fresher than Harry and Ronny´s. It´s a little faster and has got a heavier beat.
I think it´s better.
Shawn Elliott´s Shame & Scandal and Millie´s My Boy Lollipop were the biggest ska hits. Heidi Bachert recorded a German version of My Boy Lollipop in 1964. There are dozens of covers of Shame and Scandal In The Family in various languages and at least four different German versions. Gela & The Gentries even recorded a great Bavarian version: Die Schand und dös G’red.
But there were a number of German artists who also jumped on the blue beat train. Now, as I´ve written, this would make a nice “Ska in Germany” compilation. Unfortunately I don´t own any of these records, so meanwhile you may just follow these Youtube links. Gitte recorded Das ist der Bluebeat, Mike & Joe (alias Michael Holm and Joachim Heider) recorded Blue Beat Baby paired with the equally great ska flip Hallo du, hör mal zu. Ria Bartok did Zu schade dafür ( a cover of Tracey Dey´s Ska Doo Dee Yah) and Annamarie did the clearly off-beat Little Boy Butterfly. I couldn´t find the song anywhere, but there is a version of Patsy Girl, recorded by Udo Arndt und die Safebreakers. I assume it´s a cover of Ross McManus & the Joe Loss Blue Beats 1964 smash. Ross McManus, the father of Elvis Costello.
The German lyrics to Harry and Ronny´s version of Die Schande unserer Familie were written by disc jockey Camillo Felgen, who also wrote the German lyrics to the Beatles´ She Loves You (Sie liebt dich) and I Want To Hold Your Hand (Komm gib mir deine Hand).
Now who were Harry and Ronny?
More German ska! Tony, born Manfred Oberdörffer, got his stage name “Tony Tornado” when he was with the Tonics, the German budget beat band of the 60s. Also billed as the Ravers and the Spots, they mostly recorded cover songs for Polydor and its budget subsidiary Tip. In 1971 Tony hit with Mädchen mit roten Haaren, that reached #21 in the German charts.
Both of the songs by Tony and the Blue Beats do make an effort to translate the Jamaican blue beat sound into German pop music. Ironically, the original version of Ich such´ ein schickes Baby, Do the Blue Beat (The Jamaican ska), was recorded by Dinah Lee, half-way around the globe in New Zealand. This pairing of ska songs though, was more likely based on an obscure US-RCA release by Ray Rivera, that featured the same songs.
Naturally, Tony´s jamaican ska versions are heavily doused in schlager.
The sleeve is from popsike. The record was sold on Ebay for 79 Euros two years ago. I bought my sleeveless 45 in a local record store for 4 Euros.
Christian Bruhn (born 1934) is one of the most important songwriters and producers of German pop music. Drafi Deutscher´s hits like Teeny, Shu Bi Du Bi Du The Slop, Cinderella Baby, Shake Hands and of course his smash Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht, were written by Bruhn. I would even compare his collaborations with lyricists Günther Loose and Georg Buschor, to that of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. They might not have been such huge fans of afroamerican culture as Leiber and Stoller, but they also genuinely wrote pop songs for teenagers. Bruhn had a very successful career with a long list of achievements and awards. Like Leiber and Stoller, he started his own label and music publishing and mainly stayed in the background. Now at 80, he is still working.
For a while though, he also tried his luck as a performer. Christian Bruhn, alias Charly Cotton and his Twistmakers, hit the top 50 with Der Liebestraum als Twist in 1962. Bibbel-Babbel-Blue Beat, the flip to Charly Cotton´s third release, seems to have gone nowhere and hasn´t been reissued in 50 years. It´s about time this wonderful nonsense is heard again!
“Bing-bang, bama-lama, milkshake, take-a-break, see-you-later, alligator, monkey-dog, do-the-frog, bing-bang, bama-lama, beatle-weatle, rolling-stone, Elvis Presley, Sigmund Freud, Charly Cotton!, Telephone!”