as i mentioned in the preceeding post i have been inspired to post other music then what i planned a while ago. the following is inspired by the fact that they just put out not one, but two new records – obviously der likedeeler took this as a good occassion to present the whole discography – wow.
bap – the old german rock band. they celebrated not too long ago their 30 years of existence. they were the first band / artists i was a real fan of – you know, wanting to know everything about them, collecting press clippings and all that. yes, i was very young. i knew their songs by heart and in a way they have been rather influental for me in showing that musicians can very actively participate in society: the lyrics were and are always very outspoken, they were and still are involved in social movements, especially against war and against facism and intolerance in its many forms. their attitude towards social responsability as successfull musicians still shapes my attitude towards artists that shrug their shoulders and just say “well, i’m only a musician”. an attitude that makes me rather impatient – i’m sure i will elaborate on this a little bit more in the future. but then it should anyway come as no surprise that music and society (music and politics) is a topic i am very interested in – and yes, to a degree bap are also responsible for that.
after this introduction it will come as no surprise that wolfgang niedecken, the frontman and singer (and only remaining original member today) started with singing bob dylan songs he translated into german – more precise in kölsch, the local dialect of the city of cologne. so the first record was a more acoustic affair – but then came “major” heuser as guitarist / songwriter onboard and bap evolved into a rock band. obviously bob dylan was still an influence, but now more lyrically. musically the influences of the rolling stones and bruce springsteen come to mind. this happened in the late 70s, early 80s – where they also started to be successfull, rising high in the german speaking countries, making great records and being known for their excellent live shows – they usually played well over 2 hours and just had the pressure of an excellent rockband. and they enjoyed a devoted following: usually the whole crowd knew the lyrics (which are not that easy, most of the time) – yep, i’ve seen some amazing shows in the mid/late 80s.
but in the late 80s, early 90s i kind of “lost touch” with their output: to a degree the records were less exciting – still having some great songs on it, but as a whole i did find them not that, hm, convincing anymore. others have felt the same at the time and put it down to bap becoming “more mainstream”. i do not agree – for me it was less a matter of being mainstream as something i observed also with other artists in the late eighties: suddenly there were all these new technologies available for making music sound even juicier and fatter (synthesizers, the first samplers, new studio technology) – and if you were able (i.e. if you had the money) you were of course trying out these new possibilities. i think this is one of the main resons that at this time there were so many overproduced records around – which in the case of a band like genesis was actually interesting, since they were always also about production values. but in the case of bands like bap, where the music lived to a big degree from being direct and to a degree raw, these new forms of producing and recording produced some rather, hm, tacky results. but then let’s not forget that it was also the flavour of the time, i.e. the hip aesthetic for these years… another reason for loosing somewhat sight of bap was that i was just young, not very young anymore, and a lot of exciting things happened – musically as well as on any other level: the cold war was over, the wall came down, history was happening and we were right in the middle of it: the world was our oyster. so who needed some old rockers asking critical questions and suddenly coming accross as grumpy? we wanted new things, new music, new flavours: forward was the way.
i certainly wasn’t alone with that attitude: the 1990s have been (in europe, at least) not a very good time for classic rock. and to a degree i think that also reflected back to the groups concerned: in the case of bap, i found that the lyrics of this period tend to be less interesting: they have a tendency to be grumpy and seem to somehow struggle with the problem of relevance, getting more complicated – well, they were always literature, after all wolfgang niedecken is a brilliant lyricists, but suddenly the lightness is missing – the flow was gone. so it was also not surprising for me that in the nineties there have been solo-projects, wolfgang niedecken concentrated more on painting again (something he shared with frank tovey a.k.a fad gadget, who had the opinion that also the times we live in demand/favour different artistic expressions), and also seeing quite some changes in the line-up of the band.
i personally picked up the thread again somewhere around the year 2000 – yes, the nineties might have started like there will be no need for grumpy old rockers anymore – but then suddenly asylant’s homes burned and the so called social climate slowly got grittier – the oyster clamped shut…
and bap got back to the roots: playing good rock with a lot of punch. and i also found that the lyrics had an easyness again – still being sharp and explicit, but also allowing for some mild irony where appropriate – maybe one can classify it as a newfound easyness through maturity. yeah, i heard by chance some stuff from their record songx and thought: wow, they are back with a vengeance and sound very fresh again! enjoying themselves again and also enjoying to kick some butt again.
fast forward to 2008: they just published two new records, both called pandora, once plugged and once unplugged – with an only partially overlapping tracklist. and yes, the record shot from 0 to 1 in the german charts – and yes, i find both really good. recommended!
so – this text got a little bit longer then planned (and i still haven’t said everything, huh), but i think it is time to give you some music now. a lot of music, actually. i ripped for you from an old tape a concert from 1986, given on a special evening: the last rockpalast show. rockpalast was a tv show, well, the only tv show at the time that showed live concerts from a wide variety of bands. a show that has been distributed internationally and was a must for everybody into music. the quality is real good – after all it is a radio rip. the crowd is very hot and bap in a good mood (hey, they played 5 encores). i still have to smile thinking of poor big country that had to play afterwards…
two things for me stood out re-listening to this old recording: bap always also wrote really good slow numbers. and i still don’t get why they covered money for nothing by the dire straits. it’s still one of the crappiest songs of dire straits – and i still hate the lyrics… yeah, a mistery…
so here you get bap live at rockplalast, grugahalle essen, on march 15th 1986 – there are 3 files for the concert, 5 files for the encores and an interview (which is also translated in english). and yes, it’s a huge file.
and the official site of the band bap you’ll find here. and now enjoy!