In this weeks heap of bad taste and utter nonsense, a advertisement record fits right in. This Flexi-disc was made for the German chain store company and travel agency “Neckermann” by seminal Krautrockers Excalibur who released a Sabbath-inspired LP in 1971. It advertises for the travel offer Club 28 Reisen that was geared towards young people.
Right now somebody is trying to sell this flexi-disc on eBay for 50 Euros because of those Krautrock credentials. Hopefully nobody will fall for it.
“Club Twenty Eight” is a pretty lame Reggae-Pop song, not nearly as entertaining as the advertisement record that Joy Unlimited did for the Deutsche Bahn.They needed the money and this was a job that hopefully paid well.
I shouldn`t make it all sound too bad. The song is kinda catchy and I still like the little cartoon on the back of the sleeve with the angel and the devil dancing together. Cute.
But don`t pay more than 50 Cents…
One more by krautrockers “Joy Unlimited”. This record was given to me by “Auge” from the Berlin Comics-Library “Renate” who grew up in the Eastern part of Berlin. When he gave it to me he said:” You know, there was East-German Rock in the West too!”
As I`ve written elsewhere music with a “purpose” tends to compromise the “artistic” side of it. Much like the East-German rock music that needed to have a “message” that pleased the communist powers, advertisement records in capitalist West-Germany needed to sell their “message”. In this case “Joy Unlimited” obviously had no problem rockin` out for the Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned German railroad.
With funny results listening to it today…
JOY UNLIMITED, Go easy, Go Bahn, 1973
JOY UNLIMITED, Komm mit in die Welt, 1973
In time for the start of the Olympic games in Beijing here is a record that was made for the Olympic games in Munich in 1972. Once again I bought this in the little thrift-store in the street where I live for 50 cents.
Apparently the record was only a small part of a very ambitious project: a multi-media play/performance/opera for speakers, singers, choirs, two pop groups, actors, technicians, projections, films, big plastic works and multi-channel sound tapes that took place August 26. to September 9. 1972 at the site of the Olympic games in Munich.
The play “Hymnus 2 – Tomorrow after the fire” was made by composer Dieter Schönbach and director Pavel Blumenfeld who had collaborated on similar projects before. Schönbach is widely regarded as Germany`s leading exponent of multi-media art starting in the mid-sixties. The sleeve was designed by artist Edmund Kieselbach who also collaborated with Schönbach.
The two most striking things about the record and the booklet however are the inclusion of krautrockers “Joy Unlimited” and the highly political content.
“A resistance movement begins with nothing or almost nothing, it is barely more than a band at first or a remote, isolated commune, and needs time, plenty of time until it grows into a state, and, at the end, into the state.”
The guys who made this had a lot of balls bringing leftist politics and straight-forward criticism of Capitalism onto a big stage and to an audience that needed to hear the message the most: unsuspecting people who wanted to see the Olympic games. On top of that they managed to get big companies like Kodak and Aral to finance the project and Polydor to release the record. Things were different in 1972…
“Joy Unlimited” are well known for recording a seminal krautrock LP with “Joy Fleming”. This is the band after Joy left. There is no information however who exactly played in the “Multi-Media Band”. The cool thing though is that they set Allen Ginsberg`s famous 50s beat-poems “Holy Holy” and “Racks” to music.
This is rounding up the political theme for now. Another Pläne records ( Nr.8 in the Peng-Series) and i have no idea why this has not been re-released yet. It´s one of my favorite German political songs ever!
This song manages so many things in one: it´s poetic, sarcastic, psychoanalytical, anti-police, anti-capital and SEXIST! Well, that`s probably the reason why it has not been re-released. Whenever i play it, when i DJ, it`s an absolute showstopper. I mean, people stop dancing. Not because they don`t like the music, but because they are disturbed. In a bar or club most people miss the intro to the song: “This song is the Rubber-stick-song dedicated to the Frankfurt Chief of Police Arich PeniTZ”-(“Das ist der Gummiknüppelsong, gewidmet dem Frankfurter Polizistenführer Arich PeniTZ”) and only hear the chorus that sounds like: “I’m the the rubber-stick PENIS!”-(“Ich bin der Gummiknüppel-PENIS”) and “the electrical rubber-stick PENIS!” and “with the hard rubber-stick PENIS!!!”. So there is a lot of PENIS in there. But, you see, it`s only for a good political cause…
Actually the lyrics are much more intelligent, than what you hear on the first listen. At first it`s a song against police violence. But by linking the rubber-stick ( truncheon, baton, the billy club that the cops use to beat up people) to the penis, it also brands it as a symbol of male dominance and capitalistic power. Actually the song is full of sexual metaphors. Of course, apart from being a very political song, it`s also a pretty funky, progressive, Krautrockin`song!
Lines like: “All of the authority of the state comes from the penis” and “All terror comes from the willie” still make this song stand out today. Finally the song suggests that the cops should put their frustrations aside and their “sticks” to a better use. Ironically it ends with the lines: “If we, the millions of people, were ever to be united, we would beat the tuxedo-wearing mob with that stick”
Lerryn, who wrote that song, was a folksinger and recorded at least one full-lenght LP for Pläne records. I saw a documentary on German television once, where he was playing that song, just him and his guitar. So i suppose the “Gummiknüppelsong” and the A-Side “Lehrlinksmachtgebeat” are rock- versions of his acoustic folk songs. The band was certainly very competent and i wish there were more than these two rockin`Lerryn songs. Somebody told me Lerryn is in political administration now. I would certainly like to know more…
The drawing on the cover was done by Arno Ploog, a stalwart cartoonist of Pardon Magazine, the foremost German satire magazine of the 60s and 70s.
LERRYN & DADAZUZU, Der Gummiknüppelsong, 1971
(Ein kleiner, von mir auf deutsch geschriebener, Artikel erschien am 24. September 2009 in der Jungle World. Zu finden ist er hier.)