Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Radio East Berlin: Forgotten Music of a Lost Country (part 2)

What is this? Why, I am talking you through a recently compiled CD-R of East German music. Part 1 appeared yesterday, this is part 2. See also

Walter Kubiczek – Maskentanz
Walter Kubiczek – Abbisinia
Two pieces of rare groove soundtrack work by Herr Kubiczek. The latter sounds like it might have come from an East German spaghetti western, while the other is a bit more racy.

Modern Soul Band – Hallo Carlos
Orchester Günter Gollasch – Es Steht Ein Haus in New Orleans
More German soundtrack action.

Walter Kubiczek – Tentakel
Kubiczek returns with the theme tune to a popular East German cop show. I bet in Tentakel the main character was a tough cop who always plays strictly by the rules.

Renft – Gänselieschen ([No idea what this means, anyone got any ideas?])
Renft feature heavily in Anna Funder's book Stasiland. Unlike many East German rock bands, they were actively counter-cultural. I understand that their lyrics were somewhat oblique, but they did not play ball with the authorities and had a generally oppositional aura. This might perhaps be detectable in the relatively melancholic nature of this tune. Their story illustrates the dangers of messing with the East German regime – one day Renft were hauled into the culture ministry and informed that they were disbanding. And that was the end of their musical career.

DIE PUHDYS – Geh Zu Ihr (Go to her)
DIE PUHDYS, meanwhile, illustrate the benefits of cooperation. As an apolitical band of vokuhila rockers, they became the officially sanctioned face of East German rock, and found themselves rewarded with nice houses and various other perks. The fall of the Wall should have swept them away (as lamer mullet rockers from the western world would now be able to play and sell to East Germans). However, emerging particularist sentiment meant that they remained the band of the East. This song of theirs is that bit more musically interesting than anything else I have heard by them; the oompah tuba sound is a particularly inventive touch.

Jürgen Hart – Sing Mei Sachse Sing (Sing My Saxon Sing)
Bit of an odd one this. In the life of the DDR, Saxony was famous for a two things – the comedic nature of the local accent, and the region's inability to pick up West German TV and radio. DDR cops, especially the kind of cops whose main job is to crack heads, were disproportionately recruited from the good folk of Saxony, because of their lack of exposure to the corrupting influence of the West. So, this song… I really wish I knew what the lyrics were about. It is obviously meant to be funny, and the stomping march-beat does call to mind an army of thicko cops stomping their way towards a load of dissidents who need a good kicking. But is this laughing at Saxons (and very obliquely challenging the DDR regime), or is Mr Hart celebrating the fascinating local culture of Saxony? I have seen actual albums by him, with covers showing road signs pointing to Saxony, so maybe it is the latter.

Berluc – Hallo Erde, Hier Ist Alpha (Hello World, Here is Alpha)
Socialist space rock! Here we have Berluc saluting Sigismund Jahn, the East German cosmonaut. This is a stormer of a tune, with hints of Status Quo and Thin Lizzy. I keep wanting to seek out more music by these fellows, but fear that this might be a flash in the pan.

Sandow – Born In The GDR
As far as I know, this is the only song here that was recorded after the Berlin Wall came down. It communicates well the sense of dislocation you would get if your (admittedly rubbish) country were to disappear overnight.

Kinderchor A. Weiz – Unsere Heimat (Our Home)
We end with a poignant tune from the Pioneers, East Germany's socialist boy scouts.

Sachsen signpost

dancing on The Wall


shane said...

Nice post. I've often wondered what the recording of that meeting with Renft and the ministry sounds like.

ian said...

The guys from Renft apparently recorded the meeting with the ministry (in secret), and afterwards used the recording to pressurise the government into not throwing them in jail. I think Anna Funder says it was included in a record released by reformed Renft after the Wall came down. But it is in German.