Monday, September 23, 2013

"Bands I've Seen Live When I Was Much Younger And Still Pretty As A Picture": # 4: Clan Of Xymox

Hello my friends,

actually I don't know why I start this here at all today, because this is a gig I have no memories about whatsoever.

It took place in 1987 when I was 19 .... so young, so innocent, I hear you say, and of course you are absolutely right.

Holland's Clan Of Xymox by then had already passed their zenith, as far as I remember by 1987 they were only mentioned in the press when they decided to change their name again from "Xymox" to "Clan Of Xymox" and vice versa, something which happened every other week back then.

But as we ate everything that was put on our plate in those days, we went and watched (Clan Of) Xymox in the Jakobshof, a nice old venue in the middle of Aachen which had always been famous for concerts, cabaret, comedy and so on.

As I said, I really can't remember anything from this gig, but I'm willing to have a small bet that a) Anka Wolbert (as pictured above) must haved looked fantastic (albeit inapproachable) and b) "A Day" must have been the highlight of their set.

mp3: Clan Of Xymox - 'A Day' (the John Fryer Remix from the 1985 s/t debut album)

Re a): sorry, Robster, but this is as far as it gets on girls in this post as well, I'm afraid ... there must have been many good looking girls in the audience, I suppose, but most certainly I will only have had eyes for Anka: the picture above doesn't really do justice to how cute she looked in real life! Then again, back in those days, I think I thought the same about every girl who had her neck shaved ...



Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Battle Of The Blogs" ... Round 2

Good evening friends,

round #2 of our "Battle Of The Blogs", alas no contenders so far apart from Walter who hit me hard with a perfect jab (Geisterfahrer and Extrabreit) earlier today. But I will immediately conter this with a classic upercut:


Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, or DAF, if you'd rather, will be, so I think, the most commonly known German band from that era to you Britons, simply because of 'Der Mussolini' ... which is not their best tune though, by far not.

DAF came from Wuppertal, they started in 1978 with five members, although only Gabi Delgado's (vocals) and Robert Görl's (drums, percussion, all electronic instruments) names will perhaps still ring a bell here and there these days.

DAF certainly were the most commercially successful band from the days of German punk, then again they were the ones who trained much much harder than anybody else as well. They went to England at a very early stage of their career and lived in some rotten cellar there for a year only to work on what was to become their second longplayer, 'Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen', released on the Mute label. The record was widely lauded by the British music press, and earned the group an early cult following in the UK.

This though is from their fourth album from 1981 on Virgin Records, which I consider to be their best, 'Gold Und Liebe'. Great tunes and after having heard them you will be able to confirm what John Peel said about them at the time: 'The Grandfathers Of Techno" ... wise words indeed ... enjoy:

DAF - 'Verschwende Deine Jugend' (mp3)
DAF - 'Goldenes Spielzeug' (mp3)

So there you are: uncompromisingly minimalist pop from Germany. Good, ey?



Friday, September 20, 2013

"Battle Of The Blogs" ... Any Contenders Around?!

Hola Chicos,

Walter over @ "A Few Good Times In My Life" recently started a new series about German Rock Music, here's his first post featuring the mighty Fehlfarben, a groundbreaking outfit from Düsseldorf.

Now, I am VERY curious how this series will continue and which choices Walter will make, this for various reasons:

1) there is and has been an unbelievable amount of really shitty music from Germany and oddly enough only THIS music is being mentioned by non-Germans when the topic comes up.

2) also there has been a great amount of BRILLIANT music from Germany as well, most of it not commonly known: no-one mentions that kind of stuff, never!

Obviously I'm not talking about multi-million megaselling mainstream artists here, but about Punk and New Wave bands from the early Eighties. A great bulk of those were just fantastic and it's a shame you don't know anything about/by them.

But why is this? Just because they are German and you don't understand the lyrics? Track those down, go to Google Translator .. as easy as that. Is it because they never achieved a certain stardom and ended up in the NME or Musical Express? Nah, you listened closely when Peel played British bands who had the same problem and I bet you can still sing along to loads and loads of obscurities which are by now several decades old.

"No", I hear you say? Here's a test for you, friends ... answers on a postcard ... listen to  THIS  (first/don't cheat and read any further now!!) and I'm willing to have small bet that 95% of you - a certain age provided - will be able to sing along with it, at least with the first lines: "Lost in the delta of Venus, lost in a welter of shame / Deep in the forest of evil we embark on the new crusade / Cease your foolish plea we have come to banish the land / I stand as Saint Sebastian with love for a higher command" ... oh come on: you didn't have any real problem with that, did you? Yeees, Wild Swans' 'Revolutionary Spirit' from 1982, never commonly known, almost no airplay, you never owned the record, but you still know it by heart, a long 31 years later!

But bands from Germany? No way, José! And believe me, Peel played them as well at the time, I still have the old cassettes to prove this! But you didn't care, you fools! Walter started your education and I am about to follow with some killer tunes within the next weeks or so, just to show you that we Germans had more to give than BMW, RAF and Boney M. in the 80's.

Funnily enough it wasn't Berlin where the Crème de la Crème of German Punk/New Wave bands came from, in fact they all started up in Düsseldorf. I won't bore you with all too much details, i.e. which drummer then played bass in a different band after the second single came out under another moniker: it's the music that counts, so here are three great Düsseldorf bands for you: killer tunes, as I said ... enjoy!

mp3: Male - 'Kontrollabschnitt' ('79) [from their debut album, 'Zensur & Zensur']. Led by the mighty Jürgen Engler.

mp3: Die Profis - 'Du Bist Was Du Sagst' ('82) [from their debut album 'Neue Sensationen']. Led by the mighty Ralf Schienke.

mp3: S.Y.P.H. - 'Der Letzte Held' ('85) [from their 6th album, 'Wieleicht']. Led by the mighty Harry Reg.

Fantastic stuff, ey? The lyrics, you ask? Don''t worry, it's all about love and romance and they all get married at the end ... no, seriously: if you are really interested, I'll try and translate them for you, that's the kind of nice chap I am! And the point behind all this, is, dear friends:

 I would simply love it if not only Walter, but some of you as well, would participate in my self-declared 'Battle Of The Blogs' and post some German music too: I mean, there must have been something from Germany over the years that still rings a bell with you and isn't total crap at the same?!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Bands I've Seen Live When I Was Much Younger And Still Pretty As A Picture": # 3: Die Lassie Singers

Good evening my beauties,

I know that German music - apart from Kraftwerk, Neu and perhaps Tangerine Dream - doesn't really count pretty much to you non-Germans, this mainly is, so I suppose, because you can't understand the lyrics.

This is understandable, nevertheless it's a pity at times, because there have been some really good German bands in the past.

But one of them are Berlin's Lassie Singers, active from 1988 to 1998, and within those ten years they achieved something of a "first German girl band" - status. I won't bore you with all too much details here, because I assume that - apart from Walter - no-one will be reading this anyway in its entirety. Some short facts though:

--- Lassie Singers' first two albums are really great and I recommend them to you without reservation.
--- loads of big German names worked with the band over the years: Ejj Jott Krüger, Die Regierung, Jochen Distelmeyer, King Rocko Schamoni, Bernd Begemann
--- after they disbanded, Almut Klotz and Christiane Rösinger founded Flittchen Records and the bands Britta (Rösinger) and Parole Trixi (Klotz)
--- Almut Klotz died last month, aged 51. As someone else recently commented so wisely on a different site: fucking cancer!

I don't have all too many clear memories about the gig, sorry about that. Perhaps this is because the band's then back - catalogue wasn't very well known to me at the time I saw them, this came later. So I certainly wasn't hopping up and down like mad whilst shouting out each and every word to each and every song they played ... I suppose I was just standing in the crowd (or at the bar) and enjoying the set.

I do remember the support act though, because it was the (then) owner of the venue, the mighty Fritz Knizia aka Fritz Blitz on bass together with his two underaged nieces, which could neither play nor sing properly: they went under the moniker of Rock Monkees Of Gibraltar .... and as far as I know after this gig no-one on earth has ever heard of them again.

The Rockfabrik in Übach Palenberg (as pictured above) was - in those days - t.h.e. venue for independent gigs in our area: Fritz Blitz, due to his excellent connections, managed to bring in some really big names over the years and some of those will surely be featured here at one point.

The following is taken from Lassie Singers' second album from 1992, 'Sei Á GoGo', on Dragnet Records. Great stuff, so get it while you can, friends!

Die Lassie Singers - 'P.A.R.A.N.O.I.D.' (mp3)
Die Lassie Singers - 'Leben In Der Bar' (mp3)

Awesome tunes, I'm sure you agree, Walter?



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Bands I've Seen Live When I Was Much Younger And Still Pretty As A Picture": # 2: The Pukkelpop Festival

Hello dear friends,

today we go to Belgium of all places, yes, because if where I live has one advantage, then it is the fact that within five minutes you are as well in Belgium as in Holland.

Hechtel's Pukkelpop-festival has a very long tradition, it started on the local football ground in 1985 with 2.500 visitors, last year 190.000 people were there ... quite a difference, right?

But back in 1990 some 10.000 people came to see an astonishing line-up (as shown above) on an old abandoned aerofield, the Sanicole in Hechtel: it really was a great day, incredibly hot and there was no chance whatsoever to hide somewhere in the shadow. People lay along the huge fence that bordered the venue, struck down by beer and heat.

All bands were fantastic, although I don't remember Faith No More and not all too much of what Nick Cave did, I must admit. I think beforehand I was most looking forward to see Mudhoney, because by then Peel had played their stuff for nearly two years, they really were the "Gods of Grunge" to me ... and no, they didn't disappoint me at all.

It is hard to tell whether Henry Rollins' or The Cramps' set was more energetic: if you have ever seen video footage featuring Rollins, you can tell that this guy gives sheer energy a new definition. Then again you can tell the same about The Cramps' Lux Interior, and in fact both bands were bloody awesome ... an unforgettable experience really!

The Buzzcocks of course are old heroes, old in a sense that I am too young to having had the chance to see any of those legendary '77/'78/'79 punk combos when they were still active. Pukkelpop changed that, at least for The Buzzcocks ... and it felt brilliant to have them hammering out the old favourites from yesteryear!

The highlight of the day though was seeing Billy Bragg for the first time (I went to see him quite often in the years to come): he simply was unbelievable! The whole performance was great, not only the music, but being able to witness how funny this man is was astonishing. I mean, if you ever have seen him playing live in a smaller venue, you will be able to confirm that he spends quite some time on chatting with the audience inbetween the tunes, he'd tell little stories with a certain tendency to digress (nothing wrong with that at all). But it was real fun to see him doing the very same in front of like 10.000 people, he talked without end all the time, between each and every number. I remember he interrupted one song to take the piss out of some poor drunken bloke who decided to take a leak against the aforementioned fence, quite some distance away from the stage. Bragg followed every move the guy made and informed the audience accordingly. Just imagine you really have to piss, can't hold it to the next plastic lavatory and the next thing happening to you are ten thousand people staring at you whilst one guy with a microphone is recommending that you turn around a little bit so that the wind won't wetten your trousers etc. pp ...

All in all it was a fantastic event and I don't think I have later seen many festivals as good as this one. And it was just 38,- Deutschmarks at the door, today this would be some 19,- Euros ...

Girl - factor, in case you should be wondering? Loads of them, but it was way too hot to concentrate on anything else but the music ...

And finally here's some of exactly that for you, my beauties:

Henry Rollins - 'There's A Man Outside' ('87)
Mudhoney - 'Touch Me I'm Sick' ('88)
Billy Bragg - 'A Lover Sings' (live King's College '01)
Buzzcocks - 'You Say You Don't Love Me' ('79)
Cramps - 'Surfin' Dead' ('85)
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - 'Slowly Goes The Night' ('88)

Take good care,