Saturday, October 15, 2011
A car dealer's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of a pregnant policewoman.
A masterpiece of black comedy and arguably the directors' most perfect work summing up their oeuvre so far.
I'm ashamed to admit that I came across Joy Divison much too late. That is: I did know about the band and I was intending to look into their music some time later, but Ian Curtis commited suicide and that was the end of the band named Joy Division (the remaining members continued as the immensely successful New Order). In 1980 the single 'Komakino' was released posthumously as a 7" flexi disc limited to 10,000 copies and given away free in selected record shops and it was introduced on that Bavarian radio show I have already mentioned so often. The song is quite unusual compared to the band's previous releases, it is driven by a more tribal beat and appears like as if mechanically driven, of course the result of the band's impeccable timing. Still, it undoubtedly couldn't be mistaken that this is any other band than Joy Division, and this particular last title might have been directing to what they would be doing in the future. This song led me to purchase all of their previous music, and I can easily say Joy Division is one of the best and most important bands in rock history. There is not a single song by them that is less than perfect.
Friday, October 14, 2011
When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
The internet is an amazing thing. While compiling this list of songs I have come upon quite a few titles that I have had in my head for decades, but was always unsuccessful to find and purchase. These last few weeks I have been very successful, and I'll be reporting about them all in due time. Only today a song came back to my mind that I had heard on that Bavarian radio show 'Zündfunk' in 1981. It was a fascinating and weird peice of electronica, I'd say it was like the Residents playeda Kraftwerk song, and the listener was informed it was by an obscure Autralian band named Laughing Hands. That's 30 years ago, and I've been searching for that band ever since. In those days it was really not easy to get the music you were searching for. There was no internet, you lived in a provincial Bavarian town with record stores who hardly sold truly independent music, even in Munich the specialty stores didn't sell 'everything', the same goes for mail order companies. I never came across that Laughing Hands album. Stupidly I did come across a cd by a band of the same name and bought it, I guess it was the mid 90s, but unfortunately that was a nice, but otherwise not particularly world music combo from Denver, Colorado (who are still active, it seems). Alas, just today I decided to do a new research online, and though it can be said there is little information available, I was tremendously successful: I found out that there is a Japanese cd compiling both albums of the original Laughing Hands and I ordered it. And even better: that one title that has been lingering in my head since 1981 is on Youtube! It has no title, it's simply track 6 on thier 'Dog Photos' album. Amazingly my memory has stored the music as exactly as it sounds. More information was to be found as well: Laughing Hands were the first band of the Australian electronic composer Paul Schütze, a legend ever since, who has produced quite a few remarkable ever since. So this is another artist I'll be looking into more in the near future.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
When we emigrated to Germany in 1971 I was in for quite a culture shock. One of the worst things I realized was that Germany probably has the worst popular music in the world. It is bad in any sense of the world. One evening a few weeks after our arrival my parents took my grandparents out for a dinner, and my sister and I stayed with a teenage boy who babysitted us for the few hours they were away. We were at his place, and he fed us with Mon Cheri confection (which contains alcohol!) and watched the show ZDF Hitparade with us. That show was hosted by a very vile guy, Dieter-Thomas Heck, something like a greasy used car dealer celebrating 'German' pop music. The songs were what actually was popular among the older German population, but was watched by nearly everybody. The songs presented were to be sung in German, the rule being that only 3 words could come from a different language. I think much later they changed that rule completely. The music was usually simple conventional songs with a 'catchy' refrain and a monotonous stomping rhythm. Most popular were such songs that had simple lyrics that everybody could clap and sing along to, and even better if the singer and the song had some kind of exotic context. Out of a perverse fascination I have watched most of the shows in the 70s, and although I hate all of them, many songs have remained in my memory - unfortunately. Therefore I could come up with quite a few titles, but I picked this one, since it fits the cliche quite perfectly and was a hit in 1972. Oh, I forgot to mention: like 'Fiesta Mexicana' the more successful songs were not just one-hit wonders. These are played to this day in beer tents and fairs all over the country, everybody knows these songs, if they like them or not. Rex Gildo was successful performing as if he were a Hispanic singer, but actually he was a Bavarian born and raised just a few miles from where I live here, his real name was Ludwig Franz Hirtreiter. Behind the in-the face fake cheery Spanish boy image he must have been a troubled human being. He died in 1999 aged 63, having spent three days in an artificially-induced coma after attempting suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment building. He was said to have been suffering psychological problems. After his death, it was reported that he had been gay and involved in a relationship with his secretary with whom he lived, for seven years.