Tuesday, July 31, 2018


    Yesterday morning I drank a pot of strong black coffee and felt a surge of urination....and inspiration. Namely, to write. To write about music. So I decided to fire this blog back to life. I started by searching through my collection and revisiting my photos, notes and lists of all the records I had accumulated over the past few years. It has been a long time since I last posted on this blog. The first records, that came to mind, were these two 25 cent thrift store finds.

      I am as much a fan of non-English language music as I am music in English. I always make it a point to search out the music and the records. French YeYe is a huge favorite (I've always been a Francophile). French Chansons. Piaf, Brel, Gainsbourg, Lucienne Boyer, Sylvie Vartan, Brigitte Fontaine, etc. I seek out music from all over the world and from all cultures. African Zulu music. Arab folk music. Dabke (check out Omar Souleyman). Japanese Koto instrumentation. Exotica. Korean Pop. Calypso. Mento. And avant-garde and noise music is not, at all, limited by the language spoken by those making the music.
     I enjoy not being able to completely understand the words, but still comprehend the "feel" of the piece of music. The voice becomes a musical instrument, to a further extent than if it was sung in a language I understand. One is not burdened by the verbal contents of the song; the narrative, the meaning, or any message being imparted. No images or ideas force their way into your head. You have to take the music at face value. You have to accept that a certain element of the song is beyond you and, well, that is because you are ignorant of that element. All you hear are rhythmic and melodic human sounds. It is important to have some knowledge on other cultures and music is a great place to start. It goes towards one's worldview.
    These two "Hit Parade"-type compilation stereo LPs were pressed in Germany in early 1960. On Polydor Records. The LPs cover European music from 1959-1960. Artists include Hazy Osterwald, Peter Kraus, Honey Twins, Ivo Robic, Peter Alexander, Tommy Kent, among others. Genres include Rock 'n' Roll, Big Band and Pop. And the more traditional popular genres/styles like "foxtrot" and "tango." A number of these songs are translated versions of popular American RnR songs. Some of these artists were hugely popular and prolific.
    Hazy Osterwald's "Kriminal-Tango" is a standout track. Hazy was a Swiss Big Band musician. Here he adopts a more RnR style. "Kriminal-Tango" was a 1960 Austrian film directed by Geza von Cziffra. I love the sinister "crime-jazz" feel of this tune. There is something very pleasing about the way he sings the song title. There are covers of the song. They are mostly by obscure artists. Punk band Die Toten Hosen did a decent cover. I can think of a few artists who'd render fantastic covers; Johnny Cash, Scott Walker, Nick Cave, Tom Waits or Blixa Bargeld. Also, an R&B/Vocal group cover would be cool. And a Rockabilly version. I found these LPs years ago and I am still very much intrigued with this song.

    Another excellent track is by Austrian teen rocker Peter Kraus. "Susi sagt es Gaby" is very typical of late 50's/early 60's teen rock 'n' roll. Similar to guys like Robin Luke and Sanford Clark. France's legendary Johnny Hallyday instantly comes to mind. "Susi sagt es Gaby" is from the 1960 film "Kein Engel ist so rein." These LPs are invaluable resources. They show that the phenomenon of RnR spread the world over. They're a fractional glimpse into a time in RnR history that has been unfairly and drastically obscured by "Hippy" Rock, Classic Rock, The Beatles, Eric Clapton and The Eagles. The world of early RnR is infinitely interesting and weird. Unfortunately, it came and went. Frozen in time.

Hazy Osterwald - Kriminal-Tango         

 Peter Kraus - Susi sagt es Gaby

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