Dienstag, 31. Januar 2017

Nico - Camera Obscuara (1985)

One of the most fascinating figures of rock's fringes, Nico hobnobbed, worked, and was romantically linked with an incredible assortment of the most legendary entertainers of the '60s.

The most noticeable thing about "Camera Obscura", only Nico's sixth solo album in almost 20 years, is how relaxed she seems. Maybe it was a result of the security that now enveloped her, following her rediscovery and total reinvention in the arms of the British post-punk/goth scene - people say that artists do their best work while they're living on the edge, and Nico's canon was living proof of that. But it was all behind her now and, if "Camera Obscura" does not sound positively comfortable, it's at least less despairing than its predecessors. Not that she had changed her stance too much - listening to Nico remains a cathartic, solitary experience. But the claustrophobia that was so essential to each of her albums as far as "Drama of Exile" has given way to vistas that, aided by John Cale's wide-open production, render "Camera Obscura" an easy listen by comparison.

Indeed, the reliance on the studio is so pronounced that there are moments when the album's closest antecedent lies in Cale's own past albums, with Nico's voice buried so deeply inside the mix that it's almost unnoticeable. Both the (studio improvised?) title cut and the lengthy "Fearfully in Danger" are absolutely Cale territory and, if Nico is allowed to shine at all, it's on "My Funny Valentine," executed precisely as one would hope she'd do it - all sad and dark, with just a faint smile playing around her lips - and "Das Lied vom einsamen Mädchen", a strident Teutonic ballad that, were its source better known, would doubtless be as universally effective as her rendition of "Deutschlandlied" proved a decade before. The title, incidentally, translates as "the song of the lonely girls," a subject about which Nico certainly knew a thing or two.

"Camera Obscura" is not classic Nico, but it's by no means disposable. Indeed, accepting that Cale's overwhelming presence should at least earn him a co-billing in the credits, there really is no one else who could have made a record like this.

(320 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 30. Januar 2017

Mahotella Queens - Township Idols - The Best Of

Mbaqanga, a fusion of rural and urban musical styles that emerged in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, has no more important or influential exponents than the Mahotella Queens, who have been recording and performing together, with and without male lead singer Simon Nkabinde Mahlathini, for almost 40 years. They have been superstars in their own country for decades, and the European and American markets began to take notice of them as well following the explosive success of Paul Simon's Graceland album in 1986 (on which they did not appear).

This long-overdue best-of collection purports to "cover their entire career," but most of the tracks are not dated and almost all of the material sounds like it was recorded no earlier than 1985. Regardless of its completeness as an overview, though, it offers an excellent sampler of the group's various sounds and styles, from the traditional mbaqanga flavors of "Jive Motella" and "Josefa" to the reggae-influenced "I'm in Love With a Rastaman" and the resolutely forward-looking "Kumnyama Endini" (recorded after Mahlathini's death in 1999). Many tracks feature Mahlathini's trademark "groaning" vocals, but the album's focus is on the women: their sweet and powerful voices, their skillfully composed melodies, and their soaring harmonies. Very strongly recommended.               

Tracklist:

1. Malaika
2. Amabhongo
3. Matsole a Banana (Female Soldiers)
4. Jive Motella
5. I'm in Love With a Rastaman
6. Stop Crime
7. Women of the World
8. I'm Not Your Good Time Girl
9. Ifa Lenkosana [Heir to Wealth]
10. Kumnyama Endlini [It's Dark in the House]
11. Umculo Kawupheli (No End to Music)
12. Zibuyile Nonyaka (Things Have Happened This Time)
13. Uthuli Lwezichwe (Dance Up a Dust Storm)
14. Mbaqanga
15. Thina Siyakhanyisa (Bringing the Lights)
16. Josefa
17. Gazette
18. Senon-Nori (Porcupine!)
19. Sebai- Bai (Spinster)
20. Dilika Town Hall
Mahotella Queens - Township Idols - The Best Of
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 28. Januar 2017

Schroeder Roadshow - Anarchie in Germoney (1979)

Die deutschen Stones - nur klüger …“
 
"The German Rolling Stones - but smarter..."
                                                         - Rainer B. Jogschies in Sounds, 1981

Schroeder Roadshow, the wonderful German oddball political cabaret and rock group, was formed in 1976, taking on ideas from Floh De Cologne, Checkpoint Charlie and Ton Steine Scherben.
Like many such bands, many of the musicians had served apprenticeships in earlier Krautrock acts, most notably Rich Schwab, who spent time in Eiliff and Brainstorm. 

The album "Anarchie in Germoney" was recorded and mixed in 1978/1979 at Sound Experience Studio, Köln (Cologne).      

Tracklist:

1Anarchie in Germoney5:00
2Oh Mama (Laß mich rein)4:10
3Reise an den Arsch der Welt5:13
4Der Untergang der 6. Flotte oder Wer hat meine Leprapuppe so blutig geschlagen?5:55
5Blues für Deformierte6:05
6Wir sind die Brüder der romantischen Verlierer5:53
7Ulla - La - La0:55
8Wieder unterwegs6:50


Schroeder Roadshow - Anarchie in Germoney (1979)  
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Ulrich Hundt & Schroeder - Auf freiem Fuß...!!! (1977)


The band "Schroeder Roadshow" probably originated with members of the projects "Die jeilen Träumer" and "Zarah Zylinder". The political rock clown band first appeared in 1975 under the name "Ulrich Hundt und Schroeder", and was renamed shortly afterwards as "Schroeder Roadshow". They offered biting ironic and political texts as well as an eclectic musical style. The band attacked more or less everything, including themselves.

Musically their main focus was saxophone-heavy rock, but with elements from many other styles. The band was part of the  political left West German underground scene, they were assigned to the squatter and anarchist scene. They also wrote ballads, such as "Tanz mit mir hinaus" and "Wir sind die Brüder der romantischen Verlierer". They worked with Wolf Maahn as producer, Wolfgang Niedecken, and Christian Wagner (solo producer).

When Uli Hundt and Rich Schwab left in 1984, the band cut the "Roadshow" from their name. They also appeared twice in the "Rockpalast": in 1982 as "Schroeder Roadshow", and in 1985 as "Schroeder".

Through all the changes in the band they continued to be active on the political rock festival scene. One of the biggest of these was the 1986 festival in Burglengenfeld, against the atomic reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf; in front of 120,000 spectators the band lined up in two parts, some performing as "Die Firma" and the others as "Uli Hundt und die Betablocker".

Then the band went quiet, recording no more LPs, until the comic artist Brösel's "Werner" comic was brought to life when he lined up with his Horex Motorbike "Red Porsche Killer" on a specially closed motorway against the Porsche of his friend. Then the recording of the band's appearance at the accompanying festival, in front of 200,000 spectators, became Schroeder's last album, and their last appearance for some years was a year later at Werner's Revival party. In 2008 a short reunion with a new cd and a live tour took place.

Here´s their debut album, released in 1977 on Zarah Zylinder Records.

Tracklist:

1.Bundesstraße 1 revisited3:47
2.Die Ballade der Geruchsfetischistin Susi Schnüffelzinken3:50
3.Die Bullen schlagen wieder zu4:56
4.Amok5:22
5.Der erste Tag5:02
6.Klaustrophobische Latzhosen-Paranoia5:14
7.Miss Trend3:52
8.Türkis Türkis4:32
9.Ich bin so schwul (Strichjungenwalzer)7:19
10.Deutschlandlied1:11


Ulrich Hundt & Schroeder - Auf freiem Fuß...!!!
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Schroeder Roadshow - Live in Tokio

.
Of course they never played live in Tokio, so this is another album by the german polit-rock-band Schröder Roadshow.

With their anarchistic slogans and subversiv statements, their great live shows and their sarcastic humor the were a very important part of the german polit rock subculture.

Enjoy it!

Tracklisting:
1. Fette Ratten
2. So ein Tag so wunderschön wie heute
3. Die Verfolgung und Ermordung des Rockundroll, dargestellt durch die Musikertruppe des Hospizes zu Vicht unter Anleitung des Herrn von Schroeder, Teil 1
4. Die Verfolgung und Ermordung des Rockundroll, Teil 2
5. Asche im Wind
6. Wer sich nicht wehrt, lebt verkehrt
7. Barbara
8. Annemie
9. In toten Einbahnstraßen
10. Schrei dich frei

Schröder Roadshow - Live in Tokyo (192 kbps)

Uli Hundt & Die Betablocker‎ – Schweinehundt

"Wir schlucken schon zu viel Scheiße / für unser Gefühl / drum Schluß mit der guten Miene / zum bösen Spiel / lieber zehn Chefs zu wenig als einer zu viel ( ... ) Leute, der Kampf geht weiter / mal blutig ernst, mal heiter ..." - that sounds like the german polit rock legend Ton Steine Scherben, with a little more ironic touch. 
It comes from the 1984 album by Uli Hundt & Die Betablocker, called "Schweinehundt". Uli Hundt was the singer of the Schroeder Roadshow and left the band in 1984. Together with the "Betablocker" - Rich Schwab, Manni Hollaender, Mathias Keul, Uli P. Lask and Eddie Liebert - he does some fine german polit rock.

The album was recorded at Zuckerfabrik Studio in Stuttgart and released on the Trikont label.

Tracklist:                                                     
A1Schweinehundt (Sodomie in Germoney?)5:36
A2St. Pauli Blues2:04
A3Johnny Stilett5:55
A4Einfach abhauen4:09
A5Der Schlagbaum von Wendland4:05
B1Am Arsch5:25
B2Meine neue BMW3:35
B3Heute Nacht haben sie die Engel umgebracht5:04
B4Katastrophenschlümpfe6:37

Uli Hundt & Die Betablocker ‎– Schweinehundt
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Schroeder Roadshow – Wir lieben das Land (vinyl rip)

Seven years ago, Jesus Canneloni, the wonderful and wild sax player of the german polit rock band Schröder Roadshow, died. To remember Jesus and his far-out sax sound, we like to post this Schroeder Roadshow gem.

With their anarchistic slogans and subversiv statements, their great live shows and their sarcastic humor Schröder Roadshow were a very important part of the german polit rock subculture. Schroeder Roadshow was – besides Ton Steine Scherben – the german political rock band in the seventies and eighties of the last century.
This album was released in 1983 and never re-released on cd.
 
1983 – that was the year a lot of us took part in the great peace happenings all around Europe, we were part of the “human chain” and die-in´s against atomic weapons. And the more ironical and sassy approach of the Roadshow was a very welcome antidote to the sometimes unbearable affected and whining mood in the west german left wing political scene of these days. Thanks a lot for this and all the great gigs!
 
 
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Freitag, 27. Januar 2017

Francesco Lotoro - Shoah - The martyred musicians of the Holocaust

Today Germany is reflecting upon the genocide and atrocities of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime with ceremonies around the country and beyond. Nazi Germany’s Holocaust claimed the lives of more than six million mainly Jewish victims, killed systematically through gas chambers, mass shootings and other brutal methods.
 
Germany has gone through different phases of self-examination in coming to terms with Adolf Hitler’s regime, and it wasn’t until 40 years after the end of the Second World War that Germany named an official day to remember victims of the Nazis’ genocide.
  The 1968 student movement in West Germany during the Cold War played a large part in bringing discussions of the Nazi history to the forefront of debates.

In 1996, German President Roman Herzog - who died earlier this month - first declared January 27th as the official day of remembrance, marking the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

It was a time of deep reflection for the country, with the official remembrance day declaration preceded the year before - on the 50th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation - by numerous speeches, television documentary specials and reflective newspaper think pieces.

"The darkest and most awful chapter in German history was written at Auschwitz," then Chancellor Helmut Kohl said in 1995. "Above all, Auschwitz symbolizes the racial madness that lay at the heart of National Socialism and the genocide of European Jews, the cold planning and criminal execution of which is without parallel in history."

On that first memorial day, politicians and former concentration camp prisoners laid wreaths at sites across the country, but some members of the Central Council of Jews in Germany criticized the ceremonies as insufficient.

About a decade later in 2005, the United Nations also declared the day as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
 
 
Since 1991, the Italian pianist Francesco Lotor has traveled the globe to seek out and bring to light symphonies, songs, sonatas, operas, lullabies and even jazz riffs that were composed and often performed in Nazi-era concentration camps.
“This music is part of the cultural heritage of humanity,” Lotoro, 48, said after a concert in Trani, a port town in southern Italy, that featured surprisingly lively cabaret songs composed in the camps at Westerbork in the Netherlands and Terezin (Theresienstadt) near Prague.
 
Lotoro has collected original scores, copies and even old recordings of some 4,000 pieces of what he calls “concentrationary music” — music written in the concentration camps, death camps, labor camps, POW camps and other internment centers set up between 1933, when Dachau was established, and the end of World War II.

This album features music of the Czech composers Rudolf Karel, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann. They were excellent composers , whose lives and works were cut short by Nazism.

Tracklist:
01. Rudolf Karel - Theme et Variatoions, op. 13
02. - 06. Pavel Haas, Suite, op. 13
07. - 09. Gideon Klein - Sonate pour piano
10. - 12. Viktor Ullmann - Sonate pour piano no. 6 op. 44

Francesco Lotoro - Shoah - The martyred musicians of the Holocaust
(320 kbps, front & back cover included)
 

Donnerstag, 26. Januar 2017

Lin Jaldati - Jiddische Lieder - Live, Köln, 3. Juli 1987

This is a concert recording from 1987, July 3, in Cologne, West Germany. Lin Jaldati performs both traditional and composed Yiddish songs, accompanied by her husband Eberhard Rebling on piano and by their daughters Kathinka Rebling on violin and Jalda Rebling, vocals.

Lin Jaldati was sent to concentration camps when the Nazis occupied Holland. She didn't speak Yiddish, but learned Yiddish songs from her fellow prisoners. Jaldati survived Auschwitz; being a communist, she came to East Germany to help establish a socialist German state. She married Eberhard Rebling, a German communist who later became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and started to perform Yiddish songs for a German audience with Rebling accompanying her on piano.

Later they were joined by their daughters Katinka and Jalda. Lin Jaldati dedicated her art and her life to communist East Germany. This didn't prevent her from being banned from performing in the late sixties; the hysteria had gone so far that even performing Yiddish songs was interpreted as a pro-Israel statement. For a long time Lin Jaldati, who was highly accepted by what later became the East German Yiddish and klezmer scene, was the only Yiddish performer in East Germany.

Lin Jaldati - Jiddische Lieder - Live, Köln, 3. Juli 1987
(192 kbps, front & back cover included)

Kurt Weill - Lady In The Dark - The Original 1963 Studio Cast Recording - Recordings by Danny Kaye

With book by Moss Hart, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and music by Kurt Weill, this psychological musical opened on January 23, 1941, to thunderous applause at the Alvin Theatre in New York, and enjoyed a respectable run of 407 performances, in spite of the fact that – like Pal Joey – it broke the traditional mold of Broadway shows at the time.

The story of a stylish fashion magazine editor undergoing psychoanalysis, it starred the radiant Gertrude Lawrence, with Bert Lytell, Macdonald Carey, Victor Mature, and Danny Kaye as the four men of the four dreams that haunt her. The multi-tiered structure, in which each song is part of a particular dream, gave Weill the opportunity to write two of his most memorable compositions, “The Saga Of Jenny” and “My Ship.” Gershwin’s sophisticated lyrics included the tongue-twister “Tschaikovsky,” which would become a runaway hit single for Danny Kaye.

This 1963 studio cast album, starring Risë Stevens, John Reardon, Adolph Green, Stephanie Augustine, Kenneth Bridges, and Roger White, under the musical direction of Lehman Engel, vividly recreates this true masterpiece. It was first released in October, 1963. The reissue also includes five 1941 mono recordings of songs (including Tschaikowsky) sung by Danny Kaye.

Tracklist:
                                                                                               
Glamour Dream
1Oh Fabulous One5:34
2Huxley2:25
3One Life To Live2:32
4Girl Of The Moment2:26

Wedding Dream

5Liza, Liza2:10
6Mapleton High Chorale2:29
7This Is New2:58
8The Princess Of Pure Delight5:33

Circus Dream

9The Greatest Show On Earth5:26
10The Best Years Of His Life2:45
11Tschaikowsky2:26
12The Saga Of Jenny5:54

Childhood Dream

13My Ship3:03

Selected Songs From Lady In The Dark
14One Life To Live2:48
15The Princess Of Pure Delight2:44
16It's Never To Late To Mendelssohn2:23
17Tschaikovsky And Other Russians3:15
18Jenny3:17
19My Ship3:01

Kurt Weill - Lady In The Dark - The Original 1963 Studio Cast Recording - Recordings by Danny Kaye
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Forever More - Words On Black Plastic

"Words on Black Plastic" was the second album by the Scottish Progressive rock group "Forever More" (with some folk shades). Recorded in 1970, it was released as a vinyl album in 1970. The core of the band went on to fame as the Average White Band. The music brings to mind everything from Caravan and Colloseum, to the Band and the Beatles.

"If you have to hunt this down to the ends of the earth, it would be worth your while. It is truly one of the most accomplished and enjoyable albums ever to be lost in the shuffle. Face it, 1970-71 were pretty great years for music (Abbey Road, Layla, The Band, Everybody Know This is Nowhere, Live at Leeds, Led Zep III, All Things Must Pass, Big Star, Electric Warrior, Lola Vs..., John Barleycorn, etc...,the list could go on and on) and a little gem like this gets lost pretty easily with no label support at all (typical of RCA at the time). Also, maybe one of the dumbest covers of all time, it looks like a freaking Mantovani album. I guess it all ended up OK for the band members as Alan Gorrie and Onie McCintyre ended up doing pretty well as the Average White Band (who sound absolutely NOTHING like Forever More) and Mick Travis, who produces folk albums (under his real name, Mick Strode) and who knows where Stuart Francis is now, but happy, I hope. I seriously put these albums up with the best from that time period." - top5jimmy53

This was one of the first albums I bought as a young man, travelling by bike in England. Found this as a cheapo in one of London´s long lost record shops... it looked mysterious for me - and it sounded great, when I first listended to the album some weeks later back in my hometown.

Tracklist:
A1Promises Of Spring4:56
A2The Wrong Person3:30
A3Last Breakfast3:11
A4Get Behind Me Satan5:57
B1Put Your Money On A Pony4:00
B2Lookin' Through The Water3:05
B3O'Brien's Last Stand3:00
B4Angel Of The Lord3:25
B5What A Lovely Day6:02


Forever More - Words On Black Plastic
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Lin Jaldati - Jiddische Lieder (Amiga, 1982)

Lin Jaldati was sent to concentration camps when the Nazis occupied Holland. She didn't speak Yiddish, but learned Yiddish songs from her fellow prisoners. Jaldati survived Auschwitz; being a communist, she came to East Germany to help establish a socialist German state. She married Eberhard Rebling, a German Gentile communist who later became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and started to perform Yiddish songs for a German audience with Rebling accompanying her on piano. Later they were joined by their daughters Katinka and Jalda. Lin Jaldati dedicated her art and her life to communist East Germany. This didn't prevent her from being banned from performing in the late sixties; the hysteria had gone so far that even performing Yiddish songs was interpreted as a pro-Israel statement. For a long time Lin Jaldati, who was highly accepted by what later became the East German Yiddish and klezmer scene, was the only Yiddish performer in East Germany.
 
In the GDR there was no connection to the world centers of Yiddish culture. Israel was seen as an aggressor and song collections, for example from New York, were exchanged among friends but could not be found in any libraries. There were a few recordings by the Leipziger Synagogue choir, mainly religious songs, symphonically arranged. And the well known singer Lin Jaldati: she had survived Auschwitz. Occasionally, official politics made use of her good name. In 1966, she was allowed to release her interpretations of Yiddish resistance and folk songs on one side of a record, and in 1982 an entire record was released. This album, "Jiddische Lieder", with orchestra conducted by Martin Hoffmann, catches her in the last decade of her career. She can be heard intoning, speaking, shouting, and occasionally approximating notes amid the mostly world-weary singing.

Tracklist:
  1. As der Rebe Elimelech
  2. Dem Milners Trern
  3. Nisim fun Rabejim
  4. Hungerik Dajn Ketsele
  5. Rabojsaj
  6. Schwartse Karschelech
  7. In Kamf
  8. Jome, Jome
  9. Schustersche Wajbelech
  10. Ojfn Bojdem
  11. Tsip Tsapekl
  12. A Semerl
  13. Dort bajm Breg fun Weldl
  14. S' brent

(192 kbps)

Mittwoch, 25. Januar 2017

Sylvia Anders - Hanns Eisler - There´s Nothing Quite Like Money (1981)

Sung in English by Sylvia Anders, a German actress and musical comedy star, the recording documents one of the most brilliant (and overlooked) musical and personal collaborations of the twentieth century: that of EISLER & BRECHT.
 
Anyone asked today to name a left-wing German composer who collaborated with BRECHT would surely think first of Kurt Weill. Weill, though, only worked with BRECHT for a short time, and the collaboration didn't really please either man. BRECHT's truer partner - and the truer - radical was HANNS EISLER. (Gregory Sandow). During his lifetime, EISLER (who was one of Schoenberg's favorite pupils) created a massive body of work, but these songs - written to inspire and enlighten a world gone mad with alienation and rampant greed - are his most immediate and successful musical contributions. EISLER's collaboration with BRECHT began in Germany between the World Wars, fueled by their radicalism and by their belief that music should teach optimism and struggle. The two wrote songs on the spur of the moment for workers' rallies and political cabarets: 'If anything new occurred, the first one to telephone me was BRECHT saying, 'We really must do something about that right away.' They continued to work together steadily throughout the 40's in what they called their 'years in exile' in Hollywood - a city that, as the songs document, they both found hatefully corrupt - and finally in East Germany in the 50's where they both settled after EISLER was expelled from the United States for his political beliefs.
 
The seventeen individual songs on this album classify as agitprop; they are political, anti-Nazi, proworker, pacifist, but their stirring sentiments and clear-eyed melodic and rhythmic appeal make them art songs as well. Best are 'The German Miserere,' 'There's Nothing Quite Like Money' (with its biting refrain, 'Money is our aphrodisiac'), 'Song of a German Mother,' 'Easter Sunday,' and the rousing 'Solidarity Song,' which was written in the Thirties and still has resonance today. Also included are the Seven Hollywood Elegies, bitter, nasty miniatures about the corrupt 'paradise' of southern California. German cabaret artist Sylvia Anders has a classically trained voice, which she uses like a surgeon's scalpel to dissect Brecht's lyrics. --Stephany von Buchau, High Notes

Sylvia Anders is a consistently compelling, sensuously and satirically powerful interpreter of both the words and the sinuous musical lines. She is a German actress based in Hamburg but, singing in English, is doubly idiomatic. Among the cheerily bitter titles are: 'The Rat Men,' 'Song of a German Mother' (of a Nazi), and 'The German Miserere.' Because they are so skillfully theatrical, the songs transcend their grim topical origins-especially when sung, as here, with such voracious mockery. --Nat Hentoff, The Progressive
 
(256 kbps, front cover included)
 
 

Die City Preachers - Warum? - Deutsche Protestsongs gegen den Krieg (1966)



The City Preachers were the first folk-rock group in Germany. "Warum?" was their third album, released in 1966 on Philips.

Some "City Preachers" members became later very sucessful in Germany as solo musicians like Udo Lindenberg and Inga Rumpf. They played a mixture of folk and protest songs, spirituals, blues, flamenco and bouzouki. Jewish and Balkan songs, but also early German-language "Protest Songs" were part of their repertoire.

"Warum?" is an album with anti-war protest songs in german language.

Tracklist :
A1 Die Strassen sind so weit 2:28
A2 Der unbekannte Soldat 3:15
A3 Wiegenlied "66" 3:23
 
A4 Vor Sonnenuntergang 3:04
A5 Wo ist das Land? 2:21
B1 Was hast du in der Schule gelernt? 2:42
B2 Strasse der Verzweiflung 2:19
B3 Keiner weiss warum 3:04
B4 Die Hand 2:50
B5 Die Felder von Verdun 3:54
B6 Uns're Welt 2:34


Die City Preachers - Warum? - Deutsche Protestsongs gegen den Krieg (1966)
(~150 kbps, cover art included)

Wolf Biermann - Warte nicht auf beßre Zeiten (1973)

Born in 1936 in Hamburg as the son of a Jewish deckhand, Biermann was confronted with totalitarianism, prosecution and loss as a young child.
His father, who was active in the communist resistance, was murdered at Auschwitz in 1943. In the same year, he and his mother fled Hamburg as the Allies bombarded it.

Some 300,000 people left East Germany for the west in 1953, but 17-year-old Biermann went against the flow. He settled in the socialist German state out of political conviction and, two years later, began studying economics, philosophy and math at Humboldt University in Berlin.

With the support of composer Hans Eisler, Biermann began to write songs and poems and perform cabaret. He also worked as an assistant producer at the famed Berliner Ensemble for two years.
After publishing his some of his works in East German magazines and anthologies, he endeavored to found a small theater of his own.
Just before the first performance, the theater was shut down by the state and Biermann was expelled from the communist party and banned from practicing his profession for half a year. The play was about the building of the Berlin Wall.
Conflict with the GDR authorities only compounded. After his first concert tour in West Germany and the publication of his poetry book "Die Drahtharfe" ("The Wire Harp") by a West Berlin publishing house, the singer-songwriter-poet was accused of being a traitor and banned from performing, publishing and traveling abroad.

For 12 years, Biermann sang for himself or for small, private audiences in his East Berlin apartment on Chausseestrasse. Some of his albums, however, were smuggled over to the west and his songs became more popular there than in the east.
In September 1976 Biermann was finally permitted to perform publicly again in the GDR and two months later he was given a visa to go on tour in West Germany.
Three days after his legendary concert in the Cologne sport arena, he was expatriated by the East German party leaders for his "hostile performance" and not permitted to return to the GDR.

Over 100 artists, writers and actors in the socialist German state staged public protests. When the authorities responded with intimidation, jail sentences and bans, masses of intellectuals picked up and left the GDR.
Biermann saw his expatriation as a catastrophe. "I thought it was all over with my life as a singer and poet," he said later.
Indeed, the first years in exile weren't easy. Nevertheless, the "Troubadour of inner German conflict," as the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" called him in a 1987 article, carried on with his career. He published several volumes of lyric and prose and settled old scores with both East and West Germany on concert tours at home and abroad.
Biermann was enthusiastically received at his first performance in eastern Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He'd already broken with the socialism his former homeland was shedding.

In the 1990s he began exploring his Jewish roots more extensively and was active in politics and media. He campaigned against the Party of Democratic Socialism, the successor to the East German communist party and became head cultural correspondent for the daily newspaper Die Welt in 2003.
Today, Biermann is still an uncomfortable and controversial coeval. He's not afraid to stick his finger in open wounds and stir up discussion. Even if not everyone likes his message, at least it comes across.
"I can't complain that I've been fundamentally misunderstood. I've generally always been well understood," he told Deutsche Welle reporters.

"Warte nicht auf beßre Zeiten" was the second album by Wolf Biermann, released in 1973. This cd reissue completes the 8 tracks of the original album by 3 re-recorded tracks, originally released in 1968 on the single "4 neue Lieder" (Wagenbachs Quartplatte).

Wolf Biermann - Warte nicht auf beßre Zeiten (1973) & 3 tracks
(256 kbps, cover art included)


Sonntag, 22. Januar 2017

Gerhard Gundermann - So wird es Tag - Eine Auswahl (custom made compilation, 2015)

Two years ago - inspried by Gerhard Gundermann´s 60th birthday - a friend compiled this home made collection of Gerhard Gundermann live recordings. The quality of the lyrics and the songs impressed me deeply.

Gerhard Gundermann was a phenomenon in the German musical landscape; although he never became a professional musician, he managed to rise to be one of the most successful singer/songwriters of the '90s in Germany.
Growing up in East Germany and heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, the media frequently called him the "Springsteen of the East." Gundermann wrote lyrics full of poetic density reflecting on the '90s situation in East Germany and coated them in folk-rock songs which struck a chord with the generation who had grown up in the GDR but with the German reunification suddenly had to adopt to a completely different social system.

Working as a miner in his main profession after a failed career attempt as a military officer (he was fired because he refused to sing a praise song for the defense minister), Gundermann started his artistic activities at the end of the '70s as a member of "Brigade Feuerstein", a group which performed political songs and cabaret and had been founded in 1978. He soon gained attention as one of the main lyricists of the group, but this also brought him the first trouble with the official system. Although he was a full-fledged member of the SED, the East German communist party, and even an informant of the Stasi, the notorious secret service, the conflicts accumulated. In 1979, he was dropped as a Stasi informant due to severe differences with the official party line; five years later he was eventually expelled from the SED.

During the decade of touring with "Brigade Feuerstein", he constantly sharpened his ability to use powerful words in his lyrics. In 1987, he left "Brigade Feuerstein" and started solo performances accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. The result of this work was his first album, "Männer, Frauen und Maschinen", released in 1988. Despite strong lyrics, the album left a very uneven impression due to constant interference of censors and other bureaucrats of the GDR cultural nomenclature. Some songs of "Männer, Frauen und Maschinen" Gundermann performed with a band, which marked a significant change. In the aftermath of the album release, he had entered a new chapter in his songwriting career by writing lyrics for the rock band "Silly", who were one of the top bands in the GDR at the time and had just lost their previous lyricist. This job convinced Gundermann that his songs might be considerably enriched by performing them with a full-scale rock band.

The members of "Silly" agreed to provide him with the required band backup. The album "Einsame Spitze" (1992) was much more accessible than its predecessor and laid the foundation for his cult status in East Germany; this was of course also the case due to the newly achieved artistic freedom after the 1989 political changes which enabled Gundermann to put his ideas to life much more creatively. Gundermann then christened his project "Gundermann und Seilschaft" and recorded two more albums: "Der siebte Samurai" (1993) and "Frühstück für immer" (1995) continued the success. The latter earned Gerhard Gundermann the "Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik", the most important musical award in Germany and further consolidated his reputation as one of the most innovative German songwriters.

In 1994, he and his band performed as a support act for a Bob Dylan tour in Germany. "Engel über dem Revier" (1997) painted a much more melancholic picture; it reflects on the closing down of the mine Gundermann had been working in for two decades. But even then, officially unemployed, he refused to make music his profession, realizing that this might corrupt his potential as a songwriter when he has to write songs to sell them.

On June 21, 1998, Gerhard Gundermann suffered a stroke and was found dead at his house. After the death of Tamara Danz, the singer of "Silly", in 1996 (she succumbed to cancer), this was the second big loss for German rock music. By pure chance, Gundermann's last concert took place just seven days before his death had been recorded and was released in 1999 on the double-CD set "Krams - Das letzte Konzert". Another posthumous release of 1999 was "Unplugged", a recording of a 1994 acoustic concert together with "Silly".



Tracklist:
01. PS (with Silly)
02. So wird es Tag
03. Und musst du weinen
04. Der Narr
05. Das war mein zweitbester Sommer
06. Linda (with Silly)
07. Brunhilde
08. Lancelots Zwischenbilanz
09. Gras
10. Einmal
11. Atlantic City
12. Oweh
13. Leinen los
14. Keine Zeit mehr
15. Helpless
16. Ich kann mich nicht mehr erinnern (with Silly)
17. Alle oder keiner (with Silly)
18. Nach Haus (with Silly)

Gerhard Gundermann - So wird es Tag - Eine Auswahl (custom made compilation, 2015)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 21. Januar 2017

Atahualpa Yupanqui - Camino Del Indio (1942-1944)


Argentinean folk icon Atahualpa Yupanqui became one of the most valuable treasures for the local culture. As a child living in the small town of Roca, province of Buenos Aires, Héctor Roberto Chavero was seduced by traditional music, especially by the touching sound of the acoustic guitar.
After taking violin lessons, the young man began learning how to play guitar, having musician Bautista Almirón as his teacher. For many years, Atahualpa Yupanqui traveled around his native country, singing folk tunes and working as muleteer, delivering telegrams, and even working as a journalist for a Rosario newspaper.
 
In the late '30s, the artist started recording songs, making his debut as a writer in 1941 with Piedra Sola, later writing a famous novel called Cerro Bajo. In 1949, the singer/songwriter went on tour around Europe for the first time, including performances with France's Edith Piaf. During the following decades Atahualpa Yupanqui achieved an impressive amount of national and international recognition, becoming an essential artist, a distinguished Latin American troubadour, and influencing many prominent musicians and Argentinean folk groups. Atahualpa Yupanqui passed away in France in May, 1992.                

Atahualpa Yupanqui - Camino Del Indio (1942-1944)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Tracklist:

1.: Camino Del Indio 2.: Malambo 3.: Viento Viento 4.: Una Cancion En La Montana 5.: Camino En Los Valles 6.: El Kachorro 7.: Piedra Y Camino 8.: Vidala Del Silencio 9.: Me Voy 10.: Huajra 11.: Carguita De Tola 12.: La Viajerita

Oktober-Klub Berlin - Unterm Arm die Gitarre (Amiga, 1968)


"Singe-Bewegung" and "Oktoberklub" in East Germany, part 4.

East Germans born between 1945 and 1960, who came into their teens between the erection of the Berlin wall and the mid-’70s, were known as the “integrated generation”, for they identified to a fairly high degree with the German Democratic Republic.

In the main, they regarded socialism as a matter of course, they undertook the “long march through the institutions” and pinned their hopes on a “changing party elite” (as it was called in the West). Some of the politically and culturally active young people sympathized strongly with the anti-capitalist, emancipatory protest of the left wing in the West and the international culture of protest music. This enthusiasm certainly had quixotic qualities, and the crisis-ridden trend of state socialism increasingly undermined its credibility.

But when Stefan Wolle in his book Die heile Welt der Diktatur (The Perfect World of Dictatorship) characterizes the Singing Movement and the Political Songfest as manifestations of an “officially tolerated ersatz protest culture” that availed itself of the “poses and accessories of Western protest movements”, he is oversimplifying the many different facets of this phenomenon.

"Unterm Arm die Gitarre" was the name of a Radio DDR programm produced in cooperation with the Oktober-Klub Berlin.  The album with the same name celebrates the first two years of the Oktober-Klub with a recording of a concert at the Kongresshalle Berlin, February 25s, 1968.

Oktober-Klub Berlin - Unterm Arm die Gitarre (Amiga, 1968)
(128 kbps, front & back cover included)

To be continued...

Malvina Reynolds - Sings The Truth (1967)

Born Malvina Milder of Jewish socialist immigrant parents in San Francisco, Malvina was refused her diploma by Lowell High School because her parents were opposed to US participation in World War I. She entered UC Berkeley anyway, and received her BA and MA in English. She married William Reynolds, a carpenter and organizer, in 1934 and had one child, Nancy, in 1935. She completed her dissertation and was awarded her Doctorate in 1936. It was the middle of the Depression, she was Jewish, socialist, and a woman. She could not find a job teaching at the college level. She became a social worker and a columnist for the People's World and, when World War II started, an assembly-line worker at a bomb factory. When her father died, she and her husband took over her parents' naval tailor shop in Long Beach, California. There in the late forties she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger and other folk singers and songwriters and began writing songs. She returned to Berkeley, and to the University, where she took music theory classes in the early fifties. She gained recognition as a songwriter when Harry Belafonte sang her “Turn Around.” Her songs were recorded by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Seekers, Pete Seeger, and the Limeliters, among others. She wrote songs for Women for Peace, the Nestle Boycott, the sit-ins in San Francisco on auto row and at the Sheraton-Palace, the fight against putting a freeway through Golden Gate Park and other causes. She toured Scandinavia, England and Japan. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before she died in 1978. Ellen Stekert is writing a biography and would like information about Malvina's pre-1945 activities.

How many other musicians made their major-label recording debuts as grandmothers in their mid-sixties, as Malvina Reynolds did on this circa late-1966/early-1967 LP, produced by John Hammond? But those were different times, which saw ridiculously uncommercial, avowedly antiestablishment albums released by the labels of large corporations. And this is certainly an uncommercial record, Reynolds' wavering voice - even the liner notes disclose how "she admitted to one critic that she had a semi-permanent frog in her throat" - backed by plain acoustic guitar-dominated instrumentation, though it sounds like a bass is in the mix at points. As froggy as it is here, though, her voice was in better shape than it would be on her 1970s recordings for the small Cassandra label. And this does give you the chance to hear Reynolds' own versions of her two most famous songs, which were primarily associated with other performers on record - "Little Boxes" (which was a small hit for Pete Seeger) and "What Have They Done to the Rain?" (a hit for the Searchers, and also recorded by Joan Baez, Marianne Faithfull, and the Seekers). Those two compositions, particularly "What Have They Done to the Rain?," are the best songs on the LP, which otherwise ranges from moving and inspirational '60s folk ("I Don't Mind Failing," the melancholy closer "Bitter Rain") to unappealingly didactic folk protest. In part because of that streak of blunt righteousness, and in part because the melodies and singing often aren't that strong, much of this hasn't dated well, even if the spirit of Reynolds' anger and satire - targeting bigotry, suburban conformity, religious fundamentalism, and overdevelopment - remains right-on and commendable in many ways.


Tracklist:

The New Restaurant
What's Goin' On Down There
Little Boxes
Battle of Maxton Field
God Bless the Grass
I Don't Mind Failing
What Have They Done to the Rain?
The Devil's Baptizin
Singing Jesus
The Bloody Neat
Quiet
Love Is Something (Magic Penny)
Bitter Rain

Malvina Reynolds - Sings the Truth (1967)
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Ian & Sylvia - Live At Newport

Ian Tyson and Slyvia Fricker had first teamed up in the late 1950s in Toronto and had moved to the New York City folk scene at the start of the next decade where they were signed by Albert Grossman, who was better known as the manager of not only Bob Dyland and Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Besides their two-part harmonies, Ian & Sylvia were known for their wide ranging repertoire of songs, which included not only folk and country songs (e.g., "Some Day Soon"), but blues (e.g., "Maude's Blues (Losing Is An Easy Game"), bluegrass, spirituals, gospel, and even French-Canadian songs (e.g., "Un Canadien Errant").
Divided about equally between material from their appearances at the 1963 and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals, these 14 tracks present concert versions of many of the duo's best songs, including "You Were on My Mind," "Someday Soon," "Song for Canada," and "Four Strong Winds." Eric Hord adds lead acoustic guitar on the 1963 cuts; Rick Turner does the same on the ones from 1965.

Ian & Sylvia recorded studio versions of all of the songs on their '60s Vanguard albums, which makes this disc a sort of souvenir that's essential only for big fans, although the sound and performances are decent. 

Tracklist:
1. Introduction: Ed McCurdy
2. Oh Katy Dear
3. Un Canadien Errant
4. V'Le Le Bon Vent
5. The Greenwood Sidie (The Cruel Mother)
6. Royal Canal
7. C.C. Rider
8. Red Velvet
9. Song For Canada
10. Travelling Drummer
11. Someday Soon
12. Play One More
13. You Were On My Mind
14. Maude's Blues (Losing Is An Easy Game)
15. Four Strong Winds

Ian & Sylvia - Live At Newport
(ca. 192 kbps, cover art included)       

Joshua White - Southern Exposure - An Album of Jim Crow Blues (1941)

"The blues, contrary to popular conception, are not always concerned with love, razors, dice, and death," Richard Wright wrote in 1941, in the liner notes to a new album of 78 rpm records. "Southern Exposure contains the blues, the wailing blues, the moaning blues, the laughing-crying blues, the sad-happy blues. But it contains also the fighting blues . . ."

Southern Exposure was the third album by Josh White, a young singer who was then staking out a unique position in American music: he was the only musician ever to make a name for himself singing political blues. Oddly, he made no claim to uniqueness; like Wright, he argued that the blues was by its nature a protest music, and decades of writers on the subject would concur. They always pointed, though, to veiled verses like "You don’t know my mind/ When you see me laughing, I’m laughing just to keep from crying." What Josh was singing was something quite different: a repertoire of blues about current events, written from a strong left-wing perspective. Some of the other blues artists who became caught up in the folk revival recorded similar pieces (Big Bill Broonzy’s "Black, Brown and White" and Leadbelly’s "Bourgeois Blues" are the most successful examples), but only Josh made it the centerpiece of his work.

In 1941, Josh White was 27 and had already lived out two previous musical careers. He had spent his childhood traveling around the South as "lead boy" for blind blues and gospel singers, making his first recordings at age 14 with the streetcorner evangelist Blind Joe Taggart. Then, in the early 1930s, he had settled in Harlem and became a solo artist, his records influencing a generation of players in the southeastern states (both Blind Boy Fuller and John Jackson covered his songs and guitar arrangements). These early recordings were pretty standard blues and gospel fare, though his guitar work was already outstanding and he was the only artist to have simultaneous success in the sacred and secular markets, recording gospel under his own name and blues as "Pinewood Tom." Only one of his 1930s records hinted at his future direction: in 1936 he put out "No More Ball and Chain" backed with "Silicosis Is Killin’ Me," two songs by a populist country songwriter, Bob Miller. Miller was a link between what was then called "hillbilly" music and the progressive New York scene, working with the Appalachian ballad singer and union organizer Aunt Molly Jackson and later the Almanac Singers, but his collaboration with Josh was brief. They might have done more work together, but, shortly after making the record, Josh cut his right hand so severely that he was unable to play for the next four years.

It was with the Almanacs that he first recorded for Keynote Records, an outgrowth of New Masses magazine, and in 1941 the label released his most influential album of the period, Southern Exposure: An Album of Jim Crow Blues. This time, the songs were all original compositions, collaborations between Josh and the Harlem Renaissance poet Waring Cuney. It was the first full-fledged Civil Rights record album, and there would never be another with so much popularity or impact. The title song gives an idea; written to the tune of "Careless Love," it was the lament of a Southern sharecropper:

Well, I work all the week in the blazin’ sun, (3x)
Can’t buy my shoes, Lord, when my payday comes.

I ain’t treated no better than a mountian goat, (3x)
Boss takes my crop and the poll takes my vote.

The rest of the material, most of it in a straightforward 12-bar blues framework, included "Jim Crow Train," Bad Housing Blues," and "Defense Factory Blues." The latter was typical, a hard-hitting attack on wartime factory segregation with lines like, "I’ll tell you one thing, that bossman ain’t my friend/ If he was, he’d give me some democracy to defend." Harlem’s main newspaper, the Amsterdam News, devoted two articles to the album’s release, rating it as a work that "no record library should be without" and emphasizing the painful familiarity of the subject matter: "All of you know the guy who ëwent to the defense factory trying to find some work to do . . .’; and over there on 133d St. and Park Ave., and down in Mississippi and out in Minnesota, we all have a brother or a sister or a cousin who can wail: ëwoke up this mornin’ rain water in my bed. . . . There ain’t no reason I should live this way. . . I’ve lost my job, can’t even get on the WPA.’"

(Thanks to Elijah Wald, Living Blues magazine, for the information.)

(224 kbps, front cover included)

Freitag, 20. Januar 2017

Theodore Bikel - Sings Yiddish Theatre And Folk Songs (1967)

A talented folksinger and actor, Theodore Bikel has carved out his place in the modern entertainment industry as a renaissance man. For over 50 years, Bikel has impacted film, the stage, and the arts, from his supporting role in The African Queen in 1951 to his appearance at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival to his appointment to the National Council for the Arts in 1977. Although he was born in Austria, he has lived in Israel, England, and the United States and speaks five languages. Bikel has recorded for Elektra, Columbia, and Reprise, published Folksongs & Footnotes, and served as a vice president of the American Jewish Congress.

Bikel was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1924, but his family fled to Palestine in 1938, where they became British subjects. Bikel wanted to study language and become a teacher, so he worked at a communal farm to help pay expenses. Drawn to the theater, however, he left the farm in 1943 to study at the Hamimah Theater in Tel Aviv. Later, Bikel and four other actors formed the Tel Aviv Chamber Theater. In 1946, he left Israel to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. While in England, he also began to take a serious interest in folk music and learn the guitar. In 1947, Bikel's acting skills were noticed by Sir Laurence Olivier, leading to a part in the London production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

By the early '50s, Bikel began to play Russian officers and German sailors in English and American films and in 1955, he moved to New York City. The move also coincided with the beginning of a career in folk music. He signed with Elektra Records in the mid-'50s and recorded Israeli Folk Songs in 1955. He became a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival and performed at the event in 1960. Bikel's repertoire proved uniquely eclectic, including songs from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Israel. He played hundreds of dates in United States, from the Rainbow & Stars in New York to The Boarding House in San Francisco, and traveled broadly, performing in New Zealand, Australia, and throughout Europe.
  Over the next 40 years, Bikel continued his dual career in film and folk music. He received parts in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming in 1966, See You in the Morning in 1989, and Shadow Conspiracy in 1997. He recorded Songs of the Earth for Elektra in 1967, A New Day on Reprise in 1970, and A Taste of Passover for Rounder in 1998. Bikel also involved himself in a number of political activities. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Bikel to the National Council for the Arts, a position he retained until 1982. He has also served with the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, Americans for the Arts, and the American Jewish Congress. In 1992, Bikel received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hartford.

"Sings Yiddish Theatre & Folk Songs" was originally released in the '60s on Elektra. This also features the arrangements of master maestro Dov Seltzer. 


Tracklist:
1 A Chasene Tants
2 Doina
3 Beygelach
4 Di Grine Kuzine
5 A Pintale
6 Dire-Gelt
7 A Finf-Un-Tsvantsiger
8 Got Fun Avrohom
9 Kalt Vasser
10 Dem Milner's Treren
11 Machatonim
12 Shabes Shabes
13 Machateyneste Belz
14 Mayn Shtetele Belz
15 Yossel Der Klezmer
16 A Kleyn Melamedl

Theodore Bikel - Sings Yiddish Theatre And Folk Songs (1967)
(256 kbps, cover art included)