Archive for April, 2008

september song – franz treichler sings kurt weill

April 25, 2008

after lotte lenya‘s interpretation you can now have a listen to the interpretation of kurt weill songs by the young gods. different interpretations, for sure. i really love the version of speak low and september song – both songs the young gods usually still play live – speak low is actually (in again a very different version) on their brand new record knocking on wood. not much more i want to say to the young gods. since they constitute part of my personal pantheon of musical gods there will be some more about them later (including some out of print / unreleased stuff – just to keep you interested).

this record has been recorded (in the studio) after a special concert (well, i think it was actually two concerts) presenting kurt weill songs – together with element of crime (see below). they actually played this show just a couple of years back again at a kurt weill festival in germany.

the tracklist reads as follows:



ripped from vinyl@224, you can get the young gods play kurt weill here. enjoy!

september song – lotte lenya sings kurt weill

April 23, 2008

lotte lenya – surabaya johnny

so we are going back to the source, in a way. just to get you an idea how kurt weill songs sound when sung by maybe the most important singer for his music: lotte lenya. after all she was married to kurt twice…

and you all know lotte lenya: maybe you do not know that it is lotte lenya – she was also a sucessfull actress and maybe her most famous role was the mean KGB-dyke in the james bond movie from russia with love. funny i remember that even as a kid i realized that she was hot for the blond girl. which was in turn hot for james bond. which i was hot for, too (still am, actually – and from russia with love has the added bonus of turks with moustaches – although in doctor no he wears blue swimming trunks – well, i could now go on about sean connery for a while…) where were we? yes, lotte lenya and kurt weill – well, not much i can write about them, since there are a couple of good resources with a lot of information available. try for example the kurt weill foundation for music.

i would just like to point out that he not only worked with bertold brecht (for the famous three penny opera and the rise and fall of mahagonny), but also with a lot of other great writers for his songs (and he not only composed songs, by the way). some of these songs are definitly standards these days, sung by many known artists. so maybe – like you know lotte lenya without knowing that it is lotte lenya – you might also know the music of kurt weill without knowing that it is kurt weill.

some of the best known songs in english have been recorded by lotte lenya after the death of her husband and published as september song and other american theatre songs of kurt weill sung by lotte lenya.

here the tracklist – you might recognize some titles and / or writers:

SEPTEMBER SONG lyrics by Maxwell Anderson
IT NEVER WAS YOU lyrics by Maxwell Anderson
SAGA OF JENNY lyrics by Ira Gershwin
FOOLISH HEART lyrics by Ogden Nash
SPEAK LOW lyrics by Ogden Nash
SING ME NOT A BALLAD lyrics by Ira Gershwin
LONELY HOUSE lyrics by Langston Hughes
A BOY LIKE YOU lyrics by Langston Hughes
GREEN-UP TIME lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
TROUBLE MAN lyrics by Maxwell Anderson
STAY WELL lyrics by Maxwell Anderson
LOST IN THE STARS lyrics by Maxwell Anderson

although this record is not the oldest i posted, it certainly sounds like. i even had to fade in the first song (september song) after about a third: the first third has a very mean scratch. but then this record has been reissued on cd (with the back cover as front cover) – so if you want no patina, you do have the possibilty to do so. for all the others: get it here. and enjoy!

blue is one of many colours: element of crime II

April 21, 2008

slowly transitions took place, starting maybe with freedom, love & happiness, continuing on the record the ballad of jimmy and johnny, which had already a german song on it – then in retrospect it seemed like they (consciously?) ended the “english period” with their live album crime pays.

and then they dropped damals hinterm mond: wow. blue was suddenly one of many colours, although still a dominant one, but a soft blue: melancholy substitued the grittyness, suddenly their records were not the soundtrack to cold winternights, but to warm summernights. it seems they discovered a musical tenderness – also using an even wider range of instruments, most notably the accorddeon. and yes, somehow they took up the tradition of the german music of early to mid 20th century – yes, i am thinking of kurt weill. they actually played already in 1990 (?) a special concert with kurt weill songs in the french part of switzerland – together with the great the young gods (this foreshadows what’s to come soon on this blog). parallel to the music becoming very unique, incorporating a tradition that at the time many (not milva, of course) neglected in german rock music, the lyrics, now sung in german, became actually, well, literature (which had the funny side effect of element of crime being extremily popular with a german literature university crowd). this development one could also follow live: from rock concert their concerts evolved more and more into something like a ceremony.

so a couple of always more successfull albums later they are actually one of germany’s most respected rockbands – already a true classic. should you have missed their developement and would like to catch up, i propose you visit der likedeeler ( by the way: he just posted that older german über-band, ton steine scherben – also highly recommended – and be sure to snoop around in his blog a little bit: some stunning stuff to be found…).

in the meantime, i propose you another live recording out of my vault, this time from 1993 (when they published weisses papier). the difference is already remarkable compared to the concert from 1988 i posted earlier (and then compare it to the köln concert from 2006, which you can also find at the above mentioned link). the concert was recorded from radio to tape – i in turn ripped it into 6 files – the first 2 files are the concert, the 4 others are the encores – well, i had to cut it quite often, but there are still snippets of the announcers – they just didn’t stop talking…

i would like to point out that part 3 is just one track: ofen aus glas – yes, this one is for you, A.

element of crime, live at the schüür in lucerne, switzerland, on april 17th, 1993. enjoy!

further i would like to point out that you will them hear playing ich will von dir verhaftet sein – but sung in french: dicte-moi la loi. and another song they also played at this concert is surabaya johnny, a brecht / weill composition from their musical happy end. and with this song we loop back to sein, end this post and already introduce the next one:

detour – jivaros quartet

April 19, 2008

it’s about high time to post some music by the jivaros quartet. one of my favourite live bands at the time (the ones i saw maybe the most concerts of – together with the needles – they in turn will come up later).

the feeling of physical coldness that for me element of crime transmit on their earliest recordings is also transmitted through the music of the jivaros quartet – this time not the coldness of the gray city in a winter night, but the coldness of one of the highest towns in europe: la chaux-de-fonds.

they have for me been the essential swiss band: not that their music was inspired by swiss roots music, and not that they sung in swiss german – they were actually a rather “classic” guitar band of the late eighties / early nineties with some garage influences and a melacholic twist (yep, we’re still on the topic of blue, somehow), singing in a rather mumbled english with a french accent. but especially live they had an added claustrophobic quality of a small country with small towns where everybody knows everybody and a an aggressivenes that i have never encountered in other music. an aggression that never breaks out, an undercurrent that is there and gives the music a nearly uncomfortable edge: you hope that the singer finally starts to scream, that the guitars finally go into a really noisy and screeching feedback – but it never happens. somehow very swiss. and it made for extremely intense concerts…

and talking of concerts: i actually saw them once in some grotty cave – only about 15 people attended and it seemed in the beginning rather sad. but the jivaros quartet just gave a fuck and played something like 2 hours straight through with a great performance. that was rather stunning – we all came away feeling rather privileged.

so – in rememberance of this odd band from an odd town here the – i believe – complete discography. but then i have not found a complete dicography on the net – if somebody knows more, please drop a line. oh, and if somebody has by chance a live recording and / or the out of print record of the follow up band sunday ada and is willing to share: yes, please!

to the technicalities: eveything is ripped track by track as mp3’s@224, cover front and back scans (and therefore the tracklists) included. i did not rip the 12″ single wrong – these songs are included as bonus tracks on near the noise. and well, my scanner seems has a mind of its own – the covers are originally not bi- coloured…

and now – listen and enjoy!

jivaros quartet: isolated songs and mud sculptures (6-track ep – 1988.)

jivaros quartet – near the noise (LP – 1989)

jivaros quartet – implosion (3-track 12″ single)

jivaros quartet – loneliness pours out of our heads (3-track cd single – 1991)

jivaros quartet – goodbye vincent (LP – 1991)

nervous and blue: element of crime

April 19, 2008

we stay basically blue. and we stay with german liedgut, referring to the cut off german culture of the early 20th century. well, not straight away, but believe me, we’ll get there. and i get now the chance to fullfill part one of a request (hello H!).

the band that would later become a flagship of german sung music, the band element of crime started with english lyrics (although i remember that they have been critzised for the thick german accent – which i found always very fitting).

while we had something of a “juicy blue” in the last post with sein, we have now a rather cold, grey blue. the mood is rather gritty and also more laconic. let’s blame that on moving from the more alpine zürich to the nordic berlin. or from moving from a town where you actually see a lake and the mountains to the big city where there is just…city around you. a city in winter, the cold creeping into old buildings.

element of crime usually insisted on being a rock band – and to a degree this is true, but maybe also a little bit misleading: they were less rocking then, but, hm, rolling, maybe? well, they oscillated in the early years between nervous and blue (actually the first song i heard of them) – remembering me at times of early talking heads, just a lot bluer. and like the talking heads, they actually covered take me to the river on their first record. and while the version of the talking heads on stop making sense is actually a funky monster, the version of element of crime is a rather naked one. still funky, but more timmy thomas then al green. and after all these years (it came out in 1986) i still think it is a very good record, this first record, called basically sad, and it had also a great cover.

as mentioned above, i got aquainted with element of crime through their second record, try to be mensch, which gained them some more recognition, having something of a hit on it, the aforementioned nervous and blue. one reason for the (international) recognition was certainly that this record has been produced by mister john cale.

then the blue got a little bit lighter – still laconic, the grittyness disappeared a little bit to make space for some irony – also reflected in the title and cover of their third record: freedom, love & happiness.

and here we stop for now – more will be in a secod post. but before that second post we will make a little detour…

in the meantime you can visit the band’s website and do some homework.

oh, and if you thought i leave you without some music you are very wrong. i actually have something very special for you: from 1988 (the year freedom, love & happiness came out), recorded at the jugendhaus in the pretty little town of zug in switzerland (known for its low taxes, right) comes a live recording of element of crime (and i checked: they did not use that recording for their live recording crime pays). yep, compared to more recent ones this is noisier – and also the audience is quite noisy, which is actually kind of nice. element of crime did have to convince them, obviously – and managed to do so – and they ended up playing quite a lot of encores. taped from radio, i ripped the tape as two mp3 files (@ the usual 224). and yes, nervous and blue is also on it (but not take me to the river, i’m afraid).

so here you get element of crime live at the jugenhaus zug in 1988. enjoy!

and then i do have a request myself: if anybody has a recording of EOC playing Kurt Weill (at the festival la batie) – i’d love to get my hands on a copy.

to be – sein

April 15, 2008

we stay with music that can be labelled “german chanson”. we stay with lyrics that use colourfull images and bawdy words – but are intricatly crafted. we also stay in switzerland but move a little bit north, to zürich. but while höslis lyrics have a big dose of a sharp humour, the lyrics of musu meyer are – hmmm… maybe harsher: there is a resignation which gets powefully contradicted by their presentation. i find it difficult to describe it, but it seems to me that the lyrics of the songs of the band sein are darker, are partly a swan song to times gone by – but don’t be fooled, these were only good times because the next beer was not far away… this sounds all terribly negative – but it is actually full of poetic beauty and also of strength – like medieval murder ballads, maybe. which brings us to the music: i seem to hear traces of medieval troubadours, and this not only lyrically. but more obvious the music reminds of another european song tradition. while the music of hösli und ricardo leans for me more into the direction of the french chanson tradition (with a certain easyness and for not being afraid of also being pop), sein take up the german tradition of the 1920s. and of course this also means traces of different european folk styles – partly also an effect of the instruments used. and sein shares another characteristic with hösli und ricardo: a unique voice. and the women with the unique voice, musu meyer, has like hösli a captivating stage presence. just have a look at some live footage: sein performing bills busentempel live:

i hope you are now ready for more music: here you can get sein‘s record komm bruno, lass uns tanzen. enjoy!

and please visit sein’s website – you’ll find some more information and also some more videos.

UPDATE: and then, because you asked so nicely. a bonus.


more than blue: hoesli und ricardo

April 14, 2008

more than blue – dark blue. and yes, the german “blau” also describes a blue sky, and yes, it also is the colour for this melancholic state, that one which the french describe also as “l’heure bleu”, this hour between sunset and darkness, when the world suddenly takes on a different appearance. but lets not forget that the german “blau” also describes the state of an alcoholic overdose (or the right dose, some might like to argue).

“blau” is also the title of one of hösli und ricardo‘s records. yes, steven’s nude club was over, and although hösli played also in some other groups it just was not such a winning combination. so what was the logical solution? he dropped gilbert dessert and made a record under the name of hösli (called reussbühl – a suburb of lucerne. if anybody has a copy in good quality for me: please!). honing his lyrical skills, he started to create something what i at the time thought of as “central switzerland chanson”. well, there is a tradition in switzerland of singing in swiss german: coming especially out of berne there was a number of singers / songwriters with acoustic guitars not unlike certain german songwriters of the same period, although they rather put themselves in the tradition of troubadours, the best known being certainly mani matter. and also in rock, especially the more bluesy one there were very early on bands singing in the local dialect. and let’s not forget that also quite some bands coming out of a post-punk, new wave, pop context in the 80s sung in swiss german like hertz and frostschutz. but singin in “high german” is somehow a different thing: it is not the local language and it gives a different twist, a certain distance maybe. and hösli stands less in the tradition of “just” observing daily situations. his lyrics are always pushing it a little bit further: they actually can hurt. so it is not the ironic and rather cute way to express himself like many other singers that sing in (swiss-)german. one does not recognize himself in the lyrics with a smile, one prefers not to recognize oneself in his lyrics – well, it could hurt. but then there is always the option to kill the pain with some more alcohol. becoming “blau”. so höslis lyrics might stand rather in a tradition of some of the french chanson – the edgier tradition, that is.

and then he found ricardo. obviously they complemented each other perfectly: they even moved in together so their working together would become even closer. and then you can even watch their working together: there is a documentary about them, called blau. “blau” like their second album.

if you prefer reading, then i propose you an article on the making of hösli – a more detailed account then i have given and some very nice pictures, which has been published in das kulturmagazin (in german). yep, you have to scroll down a bit – or use this direct link to the pdf. the year this article has been published, 2005, has also beeen the year hösli und ricardo published their latest record, in guter gesellschaft. musically richer and more diverse then blau, i do wonder where they would have taken it from there. but all i can do is wondering. since the story of hösli found an early ending in last summer when he passed away.

so we end this little hösli-special on a rather sad note – but with some of his music. here you can get the last record of hoesli und ricardo: in guter gesellschaft. and yes, the cover has now an eery quality…

Und weil ich einsam oft so für mich in die Sterne schau, bin ich heute, so wie gestern…blau.”

dessert? gilbert!

April 13, 2008

already during steven’s nude club, mister hösli started a side project. while the nude club was about energy, party and having a good time, it seemed that hösli found out that he actually knew how to write lyrics. very good lyrics. lyrics one should pay attention to. so a solo project developed – playing in small venues, small theaters, places dedicated to “kleinkunst” – small art – small in audience size and ressources available, that is. but nothing small about his rhymes – excellent musings about life – acid, tender, drunk – and always to the point. in the beginning he did use a stage name for this at the time side project: gilbert dessert (and i remember that his first public appearance actually happened in front of a backdrop painted by davix: a giant strawberry cake). and he even published under this name a tape. i guess this must be now a real rare treat – so i ripped it for your pleasure – let me present to you: the great gilbert dessert in: keiner fällt tiefer. ripped from tape as mp3@224 you can get it here (link expired). enjoy!

time to let the hösli down: steven’s nude club

April 11, 2008

on the tape with the old recordings of bessie von brühl was also some naturakt. and the singer of that band i met at the same time as bessie and through the same friend. when this singer was still with naturakt, he was known to let his hösli down – years before robbie and eminem… may i introduce you to hösli.

but when i met him he already had a new band: together with erotic bass player ibrahim and sexy davix (i was rather infatuated with him – another sexy shirtless drummer) he formed as singer and guitarplayer the core of the at the time rather successfull band steven’s nude club. playing ska-ish rock they were a great live act – a lot of fun and mister hösli did not only have interesting hair (some kind of psychobilly horn), but also his unique stage presence. they made a couple of records, played tons of concerts, either in the core formation, or even better together with a brass section and in the beginning also with an additional singer. and sometimes they even had a guest appearance by harmonica player andrzej

well, the fun was over sometime in the nineties – davix moved to berlin, concentrating on his visual art, i do not know what became of ibrahim – and hösli…stayed in lucerne and continued to make music. more about that in the next post.

so i propose now steven’s nude club first six-track ep from 1986. lovingly ripped from vinyl – get it here. and because i enjoyed it so much at the time, i would like to point out to you the little detail of the, hmmm: crown…

and as a little bonus here a live recording from 1987: steven’s nude club live at the fri.son, fribourg on may 8th. enjoy!

more from the comtess

April 3, 2008

as promised – more from the comtess, i.e. bessie gräfin von brühl. after all i am quite surprised at how many people downloaded her music. interesting. so i digged deep and came up with the full tape of what i posted earlier – it is actually called bessie gräfin von brühl – live. you’ll get the correct tracklisting and even some more songs! and well, i found even some more stuff – early stuff…

i posted it all in the original post – so you better have a look! enjoy!