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Germany’s Hitparade 1930-37

October 27th, 2014 16 comments

Listening to this mix, previously posted in 2010, the other day, I thought it might be useful to recycle it, especially since with the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 the era is of heightened interest again. Obviously, if you want this mix, and the second one I’ll repost next week, because you are nostalgic for the Third Reich, you are not welcome to it. As Indiana Jones so memorably put it: “Nazis. I hate these guys.”

This is the first of two compilations of German hits covering the era from the rise of Nazism to its demise. The first compilation leads us through the latter years of the Weimar Republic to 1937, just before war became an inevitable prospect. The second mix will start in 1938 — the year of the Anschluß, or annexation of Austria — through the war to 1944 (there were no hits in 1945, it seems).

None of the pre-war Schlager featured here are of the Nazi propaganda sort, and even the propaganda of the war-period songs is subtle, framing national optimism and encouragement in romantic song (with sentiments such as “I know one day there’ll be a miracle” and “Everything must pass”), which was very much in line with Goebbels’ propaganda strategy which used film and song to distract the Volk’s mind from matters of war.

The careers of some of the artists featured in the first mix ended with the advent of Nazism. Marlene Dietrich (1901-92), whose Ich bin die fesche Lola comes from Der Blaue Engel (filmed simultaneously as The Blue Angel in 1929), launched her Hollywood career before Hitler assumed power on 31 January 1933. While Dietrich agitated against the Nazis from the safety of Hollywood, her sister ran a cinema near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, frequented mainly by SS guards. Marlene renounced her sister as a result, yet after the war helped her financially. In post-war West Germany, Dietrich was long regarded by many as a traitor on account of her support for the Allies in WW2. At a 1960 concert in Düsseldorf, an audience member threw an egg at her (in fairness, other audience members gave the offender a good beating for his troubles).

Comedian Harmonists

The sextett Comedian Harmonists created many pre-Nazi classics which became German standards (such as Veronika, der Lenz ist da; Wochenend und Sonnenschein; Ein Freund, ein guter Freund; Mein kleiner Kaktus). Half of the group comprised Jewish members, and the group struggled soon after the Nazis took power. In 1934 the group was prohibited from performing in Germany; after a year of foreign tours it split in 1936. The three Jewish members emigrated, and formed a band which toured under the original name; the three Aryans formed a new group called the Meistersextett. Likewise, the Hungarian Jewish singer Gitta Alpár (1903-91) left Germany after 1933, and was divorced by her Aryan actor husband Gustav Fröhlich on top of that.

Richard Tauber (1891-1948), the Austrian tenor who was the subject of Tom Waits’ blues, was the son of a Jew who had converted to Catholicism, and had even hoped Richard would become a priest. Instead, Richard joined the stage, appearing in operas and operettas. Already a big star in Germany, Tauber was badly beaten up by Nazi thugs, presumably because of his Jewish ancestry, and left Germany for Austria. He fled his homeland after its annexation. He subsequently became a British citizen, and died in London at the age of 57.

Then there was the tragic Joseph Schmidt (1904-42), a Jewish tenor who was among the first artists to be banned from German radio by the Nazis. A few months after the release of his film Ein Lied geht um die Welt (the title track features on this set; see the video clip from the film) in May 1933, Schmidt fled Germany for Vienna, then after the Anschluß to Belgium, then after its invasion by Germany to France, and following France’s occupation to neutral Switzerland, where he arrived in September 1942. Several escape attempts had weakened Schmidt, leading to his collapse on a Zürich street. He was identified as a Jewish refugee, a category that in Swiss law was not regarded as political emigrés, and taken to the internment camp Girenbad while his residence application was being processed. While interned he fell ill and was treated in a hospital for an inflammation of the throat. The doctors refused to follow up his complaint about chest pains, and Schmidt was returned to Girenbad. Two days later, on November 16, he died of a heart attack. The following day, his approved residence permit arrived.

Just as dramatic is the story of Renate Müller (1906-37). Müller was a movie star (appearing in 1933’s Viktor und Viktoria, a movie banned by the Nazis and remade in English in 1980 as Victor/Victoria, from which the featured song comes. See video clip). After the departure of Marlene Dietrich, Adolf Hitler himself asked the beautiful, thoroughly Aryan Müller to make Nazi propaganda movies. She refused to do so, and also resisted pressure to split from her Jewish lover. Her sudden death at 31 in 1937 was attributed to epilepsy, but in reality she died after falling from a window. It might have been suicide, but Gestapo officers were seen entering the building shortly before. She might have jumped in a panic at the approach of the feared secret police, or she might have been pushed the agents. There are rumours that Müller had some incriminating information on Hitler.

The Polish-born actress Pola Negri (1897-1987), the famous femme fatale of Hollywood’s silent movies era and former lover of Rudolfo Valentino and Charlie Chaplin, had returned to Europe after her career floundered with the advent of the talkies and after losing a fortune in the Wall Street Crash. She acted in a few Goebbels-commissioned films, then fled Germany in 1938 as rumours of her part-Jewish ancestry appeared. Other rumours concerned an alleged affair with Hitler, who counted the Negri movie Mazurka among his favourites. Negri won a libel suit against a French magazine that had made the claim.

Like the unfortunate Joseph Schmidt, many artists left Germany as the horror of life under the Nazis began to reveal itself. The movie folks and writers among them, Jewish and gentile, tended to move to the US. These included the comic actor Siegfried Arno (1895-1975), who in his day was known as “the German Chaplin”. But the USA had no great demand for singers. So many of them continued their careers in Germany. Some of them surely had Nazi sympathies, or at least exhibited exceedingly high levels of pragmatism and wilful ignorance. Some, like Dutch-born singing hoofer Johannes Heesters, Swedish diva Zarah Leander or Führer-favourite Lale Andersen, would claim that they had no idea about politics, as though one needed the insights of a Chomsky to realise that very bad things indeed were happening under the swastika, even while cocooned in the protective shell of celebrity.

But it would be an error to believe that all artists were supportive of the Nazis. Hans Albers (1891-1960), one of the biggest stars in Nazi Germany, despised the Nazis. The regime forced him to officially split from his half-Jewish girlfriend, Hansi Burg, but he continued to live with her. In 1939, he arranged for her escape to Switzerland. When she returned to post-war Germany, Albers dropped his girlfriend at the time to reunite with Burg, with whom he lived until his death in 1960. His Flieger, grüss mir die Sonne is sometimes considered a Nazi propaganda anthem. It was nothing of the sort, at least not in intent. Released the year before the Nazis took power, Albers sung it in the sci-fi film F.P. 1 Antwortet Nicht.

Paul Hörbiger (1894-1981), an Hungarian-Austrian actor, became a resistance fighter against the Nazis. Arrested by the Nazis in 1945, he was sentenced to death for treason, with the BBC even reporting his death. Hörbiger lived, and enjoyed a long career on film, TV and stage which ended just a year before his death in 1981 at 86. Long revered in Germany and Austria as a grand old gentleman of stage and screen, Hörbiger’s film credits include the classic The Third Man, in which he played Harry Lime’s nameless porter.

Hans Söhnker (1903-1981) was discovered just as the Nazis took power. With some fellow actors of much courage he helped hide Jews on the run from the Nazis. Reportedly Söhnker was blacklisted by the Gestapo on several occasions because of these activities, with his celebrity presumably protecting him from the serious consequences non-famous Germans risked doing the same noble thing. He went on to have a long, fruitful career in Germany, where there was much affection for him.

Lilian Harvey (1906-1968) was born in London to English and German parents. During WW1, her father worked in Magdeburg, preventing the family from returning to England. Lilian might have become a big British star; instead her career hit the big time in Germany. After a failed attempt at breaking through in Hollywood, she drew the attention of the Gestapo in the ’30s for her refusal to disassociate from her Jewish friends. Based in France after war, she resumed her career in West Germany.

Others were apolitical. Heinz Rühmann (1902-94) was one of Germany’s biggest stars for close to six decades (he appeared in the excellent 1930 comedy Die drei von der Tankstelle, and in a 1941propaganda comedy with the entirely unfortunate title Der Gasmann, which, unusually for comedies, liberally used the “Heil Hitler” salute). Rühmann, reportedly Anne Frank’s favourite actor, presented himself in public as entirely apolitical, but after the war he was accused of having divorced his Jewish wife in 1938 so as to protect his career in the Third Reich. However, his next wife, Hertha Feiler, (with whom he remained until her death in 1975) had a Jewish grandfather, which caused Rühmann some trouble with the Nazi hierarchy. A Rühmann & Feiler duet appears on the second mix.

Willi Forst (1903-80), an Austrian actor, director and singer, was highly regarded by the Nazis, and made movies commissioned by them (including that Hitler favourite starring Pola Negri). After the war he defended himself from accusations of having been a sell-out, referring to his country’s “occupation” (for which his compatriots had voted, of course) and pointing to subtle subversion in his films. The fine actor Curd Jürgens later recalled Forst’s advice during the Nazi era to never make any political statement in case it might come back later to bite him.

Actor Willy Fritsch (1901-73) was a member of the NSDAP, though he made no political statements in his films other than the 1944 propaganda flick Junge Adler (which featured post-war movie star Hardy Krüger and 1970s TV host Dietmar Schönherr). Fritsch’s Nazi party membership was not held against him after the war, when he was one of Germany’s most popular actors. Singing with him on Ich wollt’ ich wär’ ein Huhn, recycled from the film Glückskinder, is Lilian Harvey (video clip). Their lyric is different from the more comedic version of Die Goldene Sieben (more about whom in part 2), who draw some verses from the movie version of the song, including the notion that Mickey Mouse lives in a mousehole. In the hit version Fritsch is more interested in being a chicken so that he need not have to go to the office. And it is that everyday-man persona with which he cemented his acting career.

In some of these post-war roles he played the father to young Romy Schneider’s characters. The ill-fated Romy was the daughter of the committed Austrian Nazi actor Wolf Albach-Retty and Magda Schneider (1909-96), of whom it is said that she had been close to Adolf Hitler. Like Heesters and Fritsch, her post-war career was not inhibited by the taint of Nazi associations. Another performer with a dodgy Third Reich record could never be taken to task: the Viennese crooner Luigi Bernauer (1899-1945) died in Oslo while on a tour entertaining German troops in occupied territories.

TRACKLISTING
1. Marlene Dietrich – Ich Bin Die Fesche Lola (1930)
2. Comedian Harmonists – Ein Freund, Ein Guter Freund (1930)
3. Siegfried Arno – Wenn Die Elisabeth Nicht So Schöne Beine Hätt (1930)
4. Richard Tauber – Adieu, Mein Kleiner Gardeoffizier (1930)
5. Paul Hörbiger – Das Muß Ein Stück Vom Himmel Sein (1931)
6. Lilian Harvey – Das Gibt’s Nur Einmal (1931)
7. Gitta Alpar – Was Kann So Schön Sein Wie Deine Liebe (1932)
8. Hans Albers – Flieger, Grüß’ Mir Die Sonne (1932)
9. Die Weintraubs – Wenn Wieder Frühling Ist (1933)
10. Joseph Schmidt – Ein Lied Geht Um Die Welt (1933)
11. Renate Müller – An einem Tag im Frühling (1934)
12. Comedian Harmonists – Gitarren spielt auf (1934)
13. Herbert Ernst Groh – Ein Walzer für dich (1934)
14. Hilde Hildebrandt – Liebe ist ein Geheimnis (1934)
15. Eric Helgar – Wir wollen Freunde sein für’s ganze Leben (1934)
16. Erwin Hartung – Kannst du pfeifen, Johanna (1934)
17. Luigi Bernauer – Nachts Ging Das Telefon (1935)
18. Jan Kiepura – Ob Blond, Ob Braun, Ich Liebe Alle Frau’n (1935)
19. Pola Negri – Wenn Die Sonne Hinter Den Dächern versinkt (1936)
20. Hans Albers – Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins (1936)
21. Willy Fritsch & Lilian Harvey – Ich wollt’ ich wär ein Huhn (1936)
22. Die Goldene Sieben – Ich wollt’ ich wär ein Huh (1936)
23. Die Metropol Vokalisten – Buh-Buh (1937)
24. Hans Söhnker & Magda Schneider – Wem gehört Ihr Herz am nächsten Sonntag, Fräulein? (1937)
25. Heinz Rühmann & Hans Albers – Jawohl, Meine Herren (1937)
26. Johannes Heesters – Ich werde jede Nacht von Ihnen träumen (1937)
27. Willy Forst – Kapriolen (1937)

RUNTERLADEN

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More German stuff
More Mixes

Curious Germany Vol. 4

January 12th, 2012 1 comment

We haven’t had German curiosities for a while. Well, here are some: Marlene Dietrich singing a folk anthem, Bowie going to Berlin,  a Schlager icon rocking out for peace, a short-haired teen doing Be My Baby, Chubby Checker twisten in Deutsch,  and a politician getting remixed.

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Marlene Dietrich – Sag’ mir wo die Blumen sind (1962).mp3
The Springfields – Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind (1963).mp3

While Mae West was singing Light My Fire in the 1960s (see HERE), Marlene Dietrich became a bit of a folkie with her German versions of Blowin’ In The Wind, retitled in German Die Antwort weiß ganz allein der Wind (HERE), and this cover of Pete Seeger’s 1955 anti-war anthem Where Have All The Flowers Gone.  The German version, with the lyrics by the author Max Colpet (who, among other things, wrote five scripts for Billy Wilder films) , has been recorded many times, even by Joan Baez; Dietrich’s was the first. In 1963, The Springfields, featuring Dusty Springfield, issued a rather lovely folk recording of that and other German-language songs.

Seeger has praised Sag’ mir wo die Blumen sind as being better than his original lyrics. Dietrich also recorded the English version of the song, as well as a French adaptation (titled Où vont les fleurs?).

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David Bowie – Helden (1977).mp3
Bowie lately hit the retirement age of 65, prompting many to lament the curious notion that Ziggy Stardust can now travel on a pensioner travelcard. When Bowie recorded Heroes, he was long past the Ziggy deal. It was his Berlin period during which he fused the cultures of the Weimar Republic cabarets, Krautrock and Kraftwerk, and the local junkie scene. It’s very nice that David Bowie sought to pay tribute to the city that served as his muse by recording in German, but since he lived and recorded there, one might quibble that he could have taken better care with his pronunciations. As it turns out, he put as much effort in enunciating German words correctly as English football commentators take care to pronounce the names of German (or any non-Latinate) football players.

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Udo Jürgens – Peace Now (1970).mp3
Here’s one in English, by Udo Jürgens, the Austrian-born Swiss national who enjoyed immense success in West Germany, the place of his parents’ birth. Jürgens provided one of my earliest musical memories since my sister was a big fan of the man in the late 1960s (see HERE). I still think that Siebzehn Jahr Blondes Haar and the funny Es Wird Nacht Senorita are superior Schlager moments; if more songs of that genre were as good as those, nobody would have cause to laugh at German music.  Jürgens also wrote hits for Matt Munro, Sammy Davis Jr and Shirley Bassey.

Peace Now was the rocking English-language b-side of a German single titled Deine Einsamkeit, released in October 1970. It’s actually pretty good, in a dated sort of way that draws from rock, funk and gospel. Udo, exhibiting a rather lilting German accent, buys into the Zeitgeist as he sings: “Everybody is talkin’ ’bout peace in the world, but everytime I hear a hungry baby cry I ask: Peace, now show me your face.”

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Suzanne Doucet – Sei mein Baby (1964).mp3
It’s quite interesting that in the 1960s, a female singer’s image could be defined by her short hair. So it was with Suzanne Doucet. Born in 1944 in the university town of Tübingen to a family of thespians and artists, she was briefly a Schlager star while studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, as you do. Later she appeared with Donna Summer in the German version of the musical Godspell. Then she married an American, moved to the US and became a leading New Age musician, a field in which she remains active (so it’s important to know that she was born with the sun in Virgo, Aquarius rising, and Saggitarius moon – whatever that means).

Sei mein Baby is a lovely bilingual cover of The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, and appeared on the b-side of Doucet’s first hit single, Das geht doch keinen etwas an (That is nobody’s business).

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Chubby Checker – Der Twist Beginnt (1962).mp3
I got this German version of Chubby Checker’s Let’s Twist Again  courtesy of reader Ton, who certainly would agree with me that Chubby did not put much effort into his translations. “Sei nicht so lazy”, indeed. In fact, Chubby sounds a bit like a cliché Wehrmacht soldier in a 1960s war movie, right down to the way he enunciates the affirmative word “Ja”. You can almost hear it: “Ve hef vays of making you tvist.” At least the backing track is new, which makes this a proper cover version of Checker’s own original. He compiled a fairly impressive catalogue of German-language records, with titles such as Twist doch mal mit mir, Autobahn-Baby, Holla Hi Holla Ho and Troola-Troola-Troola-La. But he proably recorded loads in other languages, as his LP Twistin’ Around The World suggests.

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Karl Schiller – High.mp3
Karl Schiller was West Germany’s economic minister from 1966-72. He did not record this track. High appeared on one of four LPs of politicians’ speeches set to far out music by Volker Kühn and Roland Schneider (featuring jazz-rock guitar maestro Volker Kriegel) . Schiller’s speech was economic babble laced with contemporary lingo about drugs, being high and blow-ups. Schiller had a rather colourful political career. In 1937, at the age of 26, he joined the Nazi party, but after the war he joined the left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SPD). He left them in 1972 when he clashed with Chancellor Willy Brandt (possibly Germany’s greatest politician and a co-star on Kühn and Schneider’s Pol(H)itparade LP) over economic policy, and collaborated with. Eight years later he re-joined the SPD. He died in 1994.

More Curious Germany

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The Originals Vol. 27

June 19th, 2009 7 comments

Sometimes it happens that an act which wrote a famous song has it recorded by others before they do. This can be because the composer was still a songwriter waiting to become well known (Kris Kristofferson or Leonard Cohen), or because the first performer was friendly with the star who wrote the song. We have seen a couple of such cases in this series before, with Barry McGuire recording the Mamas and the Papas’ California Dreaming and Chad & Jeremy’s doing Simon & Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound first (amusingly, DivShare indicates that the McGuire version has been downloaded 140,701 times. Yeah, right). In this instalment, all five songs were recorded by others before the writers recorded their more famous versions.

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New World Singers – Blowing In The Wind.mp3
Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind (Gerde’s version, 1962).mp3

Bob Dylan – No More Auction Block (1962).mp3
Chad Mitchell Trio – Blowin’ In The Wind.mp3
Peter, Paul & Mary – Blowin’ In The Wind.mp3

Marlene Dietrich – Die Antwort weiß ganz allein der Wind.mp3

Before he became almost instantly famous, Bob Dylan’s favoured hang-out in Greenwich Village was Gerde’s Folk City. In 1962 he took ten minutes to cobble together Blowin’ In The Wind, based on an old slave song called No More Auction Block, which he says he knew from the Cater Family’s version. Dylan’s recording of the song dates from October 1962, at the Gaslight Café.

gerde's

Also performing regularly at Gerde’s was the multi-racial folk group New World Singers. Delores Nixon, the black member, often sang No More Auction Block as part of the group’s repertoire. Dylan later recalled that he wrote Blowin’ In The Wind after spending the night with Delores (who told him that it was unethical to “borrow” the melody, even though many folkies used to do that). One day in April 1962, Dylan handed the lyrics of Blowin’ In The Wind to New World Singer Gil Turner, who hosted the Monday evening line-up. Turner was impressed and asked Dylan to teach him the song, so that he could perform it immediately. Turner introduced the song — “I’d like to sing a new song by one of our great songwriters. It’s hot of the pencil and here it goes.” The crowd went mad, and Dylan went home. After that, he would include Blowin’ In The Wind on his repertoire; his version featured here is an excellent bootleg from a gig at Gerde’s in late 1962, before he recorded it for his sophomore album and before anybody else released it.

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The timeline of recordings of Blowin’ In The Wind is a little confused. Some sources date the New World Singers’ recording to September 1963, four months after Dylan’s was released. That is patently wrong, however. The New World Singers’ version appeared on a compilation of “topical songs” called Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 which apparently was released on 1 January 1963 on Broadside Records, the recording arm of the folk magazine (you guessed it) Broadside, which was founded by Pete Seeger and printed the lyrics of the song in May 1962. The Chad Mitchell Trio, sometimes credited with recording the song first, released the song on their In Action LP in March 1963.

dietrich_antwort_windIn 1963, Blowin’ In The Wind became a massive hit, not for Dylan, but for Peter, Paul & Mary. Naturally the song has been covered copiously and esoterically. Perhaps the most unexpected recording is that by the German film legend Marlene Dietrich in 1964; her Burt Bacharach-orchestrated single, which is not at all bad (I do dig the groovy flute), was backed by another German take on a folk anthem, Where Have All The Flowers Gone. I owe the New World Singers file to my latest Originals friend Walter from Belgium, who has kindly set me up with 30-odd more songs for this series.

Also recorded by: Chad Mitchell Trio (1963), Kingston Trio (1963), Stan Getz (1963), Marie Laforêt (1963), The Breakaways (1963), Conny Vandenbos & René Frank (as Wie weet waar het begint, 1964), Stan Getz & João Gilberto (1964; b-side of The Girl From Ipanema), Richard Anthony (as Ecoute dans le vent, 1964), Eddy Arnold (1964), The Browns (1964), Sam Cooke (1964), Marianne Faithfull (1964), Lena Horne (1964), Lucille Starr & Bob Regan (1964), Nina & Frederik (1964), Chet Atkins (1965), Trini Lopez (1965), Cher (1965), The Mad Hatters (1965), Johnny Rivers (1965), Bobby Bare (1965), Jackie DeShannon (1965), The Silkie (1965), Blue Mood Four (1965), Marlene Dietrich (English version, 1966), John Davidson (1966), I Kings (as La risposta, 1966), Robert DeCormier Singers (1966), Peggy March (as Die Antwort weiß ganz allein der Wind, 1966), The Sheffields (1966), Stevie Wonder (1966), Dionne Warwick (1966), Joan Baez (1967), Brother Jack McDuff (1967), Lou Donaldson (1967), Laurel Aitken (1967), O.V. Wright (1968), Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs (1968), The Dixie Drifters (1968), The Hollies (1969), Stanley Turrentine feat. Shirley Scott (1969), The Travellers (1969), Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969), Diana Ross & The Supremes (1969), Bill Medley (1970), Johnny Nash (1970), Luigi Tenco (as La risposta è caduta nel vento, 1972), Brimstone (1973), Black Johnny & His Paradiso’s (1973), Trident (1975), Horst Jankowski und sein Rias-Tanzorchester (1977), Julie Felix (1992), Neil Young (1991), Barbara Dickson (1992), Richard Dworsky (1992), Judy Collins (1994), The Hooters (1994), Hugues Aufray (as Dans le souffle du vent, 1995), Mina (2000), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (2001), Emmerson Nogueira (2002), Peter Saltzman (2003), The String Quartet (2003), Loona (2004), Bobby Solo (2004), Jools Holland with Ruby Turner (2005), House of Fools (2005), Dolly Parton & Nickel Creek (2005), Nena (2007), Sylvie Vartan (as Dans le souffle du vent, 2007), Massimo Priviero (2007) a.o.

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Billy Preston – My Sweet Lord.mp3
George Harrison – My Sweet Lord.mp3

billy_prestonYes, of course, the Chiffons did it “originally”. And with that out of the way, Harrison wrote My Sweet Lord, which would become his biggest and most controversial hit, for Billy Preston. Preston had at one point come to be regarded as the “Fifth Beatle” thanks to his keyboard work which earned him a co-credit on the Get Back single. He had actually known the band since 1962, when he toured Britain with Little Richard, for whom the Beatles opened in Liverpool. Post-Beatles, Preston continued working with Harrison, who had brought him into the Let It Be sessions.

Written in December 1969 in Copenhagen, My Sweet Lord song first appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album, a star-studded affair which included not only Harrison, but also Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richard on bass and Ginger Baker on drums. The album also included Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (a song which the Beatles had considered of recording); almost a year later that song would provide the title of the triple-LP set. The All Things Must Pass album, produced by Phil Spector, also included George’s cover of his own My Sweet Lord.

my_sweet_lordPreston’s version is much closer to Harrison’s original concept than the composer’s own take. In his defence during the My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine plagiarism case, Harrison said that he was inspired not by early-’60s girlband pop, but by the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1969 hit Oh Happy Day. That influence is acutely apparent on Preston’s recording, but less so on Harrison’s chart-topper. Indeed, had Preston scored the big hit with it, not Harrison, it might have been Ed Hawkins initiating the plagiarism litigation.

Also recorded by: Stu Phillips & The Hollyridge Strings (1971), Johnny Mathis (1971), Homer Louis Randolph III (1971), Peggy Lee (1971), Ray Conniff (1971), Monty Alexander & the Cyclones (1971), Ronnie Aldrich and His Two Pianos (1971), Andy Williams (1971), Eddy Arnold (1971), Edwin Starr (1971), Top of the Poppers (1971), Nina Simone (1972), Richie Havens (1972), The Violinaires (1973), Five Thirty (1990), Boy George (1992), Stacy Q (1997), George Harrison & Sam Brown (2000), David Young (2000), Emmerson Nogueira (2003), Bebe Winans (2003), Girlyman (2003), Joel Harrison (2005), Gary Christian & Desa Basshead (2008) a.o.

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Flying Burrito Brothers – Wild Horses.mp3
Rolling Stones – Wild Horses.mp3

burritoIt is difficult to say which one is the original, and which one the cover. The Stones recorded it before the Flying Burrito Brothers did, but released it only after Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons’ band released it on their 1970 album, Burrito Deluxe. Wild Horses was written in 1969 (Keef says about his new-born son; Jagger denies that its re-written lyrics were about Marianne Faithfull) and recorded in December 1969 at the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, the day after the group laid down Brown Sugar. Jamming in a country mood, Mick asked Keith to present a number in that genre, spurring his country-loving friend on by saying: “Come on, you must have hundreds”. Keith disappeared for a bit, and returned with a melody and words for the chorus. Mick filled in the lyrics for the verses, and the song was recorded (with Jim Dickinson standing it for Ian Stewart, who did not like playing minor chords)  before the Stones packed up and left Memphis.

Earlier that year, the Stones had collaborated on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace Of Sin album; and as the curtain fell on the 1960s, the Burritos opened for the Stones at the notorious Altamont concert (according to some reports, it was during their performance that the Hells’ Angels started the first fight). Parsons was especially friendly with Keith Richard, whom he introduced to the treasury of country music. It is even said that the song was intended for Gram — probably a false rumour, yet it  sounds more like a Parsons than a Stones song. Whether or not it was intended for Parsons, the Burritos were allowed to record Wild Horses, and release it before the Stones were able to (for contractual reasons involving their “divorce” from Allen Klein) on 1971’s Sticky Fingers album.

Also recorded by: Labelle (1971), Leon Russell (1974), Melanie (1974), The Sundays (1992), Southside Johnny (1997), Otis Clay (1997), Blackhawk (1997), Old & In the Way (1997), Elliott Murphy with Olivier Durand (2000), Brent Truitt, Tim Crouch and Dennis Crouch (2000), The Rocking Chairs (2002), Leslie King (2003), The String Quartet (2003), Rachel Z (2004), Charlotte Martin (2004), Karen Souza (2005), Alicia Keys featuring Adam Levine (2005), Tre Lux (2006), Richard Marx with Jessica Andrews (2008) a.o.

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Judy Collins – Suzanne.mp3
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne.mp3
Françoise Hardy – Suzanne (English version).mp3

judy_collinsMany of Laughing Len’s most famous songs were first recorded by folk warbless Judy Collins: Sisters Of Mercy; Bird On A Wire; Since You’ve Asked; Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye — and Suzanne. The song was born in Montréal, landmarks of which are described at length in the song. Cohen already had a chord pattern in place which he then married to a poem he had written about one Suzanne Verdal — the beautiful wife of the sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, a friend of Cohen’s — whom he fancied but, as the lyrics have it, touched only in his mind.

francoise_hardyOne night in 1966, a year before Cohen released his debut album, he played the finished song over the telephone to his friend Judy Collins, who was already a star on the folk scene. Duly enchanted, Collins recorded the song for her In My Life album, which was released in November 1966. A few months later, the English-born singer Noel Harrison and Josh White Jr both recorded it before the song’s writer got around to releasing it in December 1967. It is fair to say that Leonard Cohen owes much of his start in music to Judy Collins’ patronage. Apart from Cohen’s version, I really like Françoise Hardy’s (English-language) remake from 1970.

suzanne

Suzanne Verdal, the muse behind Cohen's song.

As for the subject of the song, she is now (or at least was fairly recently) living out of her car in California following a serious back injury sustained in a fall. In 1998, BBC4 interviewed her about the song; she comes across as charming — one can sense why Cohen might have been enchanted by her three decades earlier. The interview is a useful tool for deciphering the lyrics. The marine theme was inspired by the adjacent St Lawrence River, nearby was a Catholic church for sailors under the patronage of the Virgin Mary. Suzanne was a practising Catholic (hence the nautical Jesus allusions). And the tea…well, it was just tea, with pieces of fruit in it.

Also recorded by: Noel Harrison (1967), Josh White Jr (1968), Pearls Before Swine (1968), Catherine McKinnon (1968), Genesis (a US band, 1968), Graeme Allwright (1968), Françoise Hardy (1970), (in French, 1968), Jack Jones (1968), Harry Belafonte (1969), Herman van Veen (in Dutch and German, 1969), Nina Simone (1969), John Davidson (1969), George Hamilton IV (1969), Gary McFarland (1969), Fairport Convention (1969), Françoise Hardy (in English, 1970), Nancy Wilson (1970), Joan Baez (on four occasions, first in 1971), Neil Diamond (1971), Anni-Frid Lyngstad (1971), Fabrizio De André (1972), Roberta Flack (1973), Mia Martini (1983), The Flying Lizards (1984), Geoffrey Oryema (1991), Bomb (1992), Richard Dworsky (1992), The Parasites (1993), Peter Gabriel (1995), Dianne Reeves (1999), Barb Jungr (1999), Kevin Parent (2001), Nana Mouskouri (2002), Denison Witmer (2003), Andrea Parodi e Bocephus King (2003), Marti Pellow (2003), René Marie (2003), Perla Batalla (2005), Aga Zaryan (2006), Sylvie Vartan (2007), Aretha Franklin (in the ’60s, released in 2007), Alain Bashung (2008), Gaetane Abrial (2008), James Taylor (2008) a.o.

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Ray Stevens – Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.mp3
Kris Kristofferson – Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.mp3
Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down.mp3

ray_stevensKris Kristofferson is country music’s Cinderella. Although from a distinguished military family and highly educated, by the mid-’60s he was a janitor for Columbia Records in Nashville, writing his songs literally in the basement. His bosses even warned him not to pitch his songs to the label’s recording stars, or he’d be fired. One day, Kristofferson broke that rule. Double-shifting as a helicopter pilot, he collared Johnny Cash on the building’s helipad (some say he landed a chopper in Cash’s garden) to present him with Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down. Cash was impressed with the song, and made sure that Kristofferson would not be fired. He did not, however, record his songs — yet. Still, soon Kristofferson’s songs — such Me And Bobby McGee (which already featured in this series), Help Me Make It Through The Night, From The Bottle To The Bottom — were recorded by a variety of country artists. Eventually Kristofferson was rewarded with a recording contract; his big career breakthrough came when Cash introduced him at the Newport Folk Festival.

johnny_cash_showStrangely, Cash was not the first to record Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down. Ray Stevens, a country singer who frequently dabbled in novelty songs, recorded it in 1969, scoring a minor hit on the country charts. Cash had the bigger hit with his 1970 version, which corrected the colloquial spelling. Cash resisted pressure to change the line “wishing Lord that I was stoned” to “…I was home” in deference to the song’s writer; he however had the kid playing with, not cussing at, the can that he was kicking.

Johnny Cash was a marvellous interpreter of songs, but his take Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, fine though it is, does not stand up to Kristofferson’s version, which was also released in 1970. Indeed, it recently occurred to me that, if I was forced to choose, I would list KK’s version of Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down as my all-time favourite song.

Also recorded by: Sammi Smith (1970), Hank Ballard (1970), R. Dean Taylor (1970), Vikki Carr (1970), Lynn Anderson (1971), John Mogensen (as Søndag morgen,1971), Hank Snow (1971), Bobby Bare (1974), Frankie Laine (1978), Louis Neefs (as Zondagmiddag, 1979), Johnny Paycheck (1980), Shawn Mullins (1998), David Allan Coe (1998), Crooked Fingers (2002), Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-press (2006), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (2006), Trace Adkins (2006), Ernie Thacker (2009) a.o.

More Originals

Singing actors – Vol. 1

May 24th, 2008 6 comments

The release of Scarlett Johannson’s album of Tom Waits covers brings into focus again the question of thespians turning to the microphone, a career divergence usually as ill advised as the reverse direction. Here is the first of two mixes compiling vocal performances by actors, most of them straight efforts at assaulting the hitparades, a selected few performed in character, a couple of them novelty records. Some are pretty good, some so bad that one wonders what these people were thinking. The second part will follow next week.

William Shatner – Common People
Shatner had created a classic in the so-bad-it’s-really-bad-cult genre with his staggering cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. One evident admirer of Capt’n Kirk’s stylings was Ben Folds, who in 2004 produced an interesting, in parts quite good album of Shatner’s ramblings. Shatner doesn’t sing, but speak (and so I’m kicking off this compilation with a track which exposes its title as a misnomer). Over a whole album, that method of interpretation slowly loses its appeal; but on a song like this cover of the Pulp hit, it works gloriously (with the help of Joe Jackson coming over all emo). One does not know whether to laugh at this, or acknowledge that it’s all quite great.

Ricky Gervais & Liam Gallagher – Freelove Freeway
In what may well be the best scene in the original The Office, David Brent hijacks a team-building session to perform some of the songs he wrote on his abortive path to superstardom (on which he gave a leg-up to Scottish rockers Texas). Freelove Freeway sums up Brent brilliantly: it’s a cracking tune — Brent does have some talent, but invariably finds ways to undermine it. Here he does so by applying mangled clichés which he clearly didn’t think through (“because none of them was you…”). In the series, Brent eventually leaves Wernham Hogg and tries to follow his musician’s dream. As we learn in the Christmas special, he even releases a single. But even there, he typically misjudges things: the a-side is a really bad cover version of Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes’ If You Don’t Know Me By Now (Brent would probably think he is covering Simply Red), while the potential hit, Freelove Freeway, is stuck on the b-side. Oasis’ Liam Gallagher recorded this song with Gervais (did you know that in Quebec’s version of The Office, Brent’s character is named…Gervais?); we’ll have to live with that.

Jack Palance – The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived
Am I the only person who thought that the man born Volodymyr Palahniuk had died long before his actual death in 2006? This little gem is from his only album, 1969’s country set Palance, recorded in Nashville. The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived was written by Palance. One can almost imagine Johnny Cash singing it. The advantage of that would have resided in Cash’s ability to actually sing, but I doubt that Cash could have project the depth of Palance’s menace.

Marlene Dietrich – Die Antwort weiss ganz allein der Wind
How likely is the notion of proto-diva Marlene Dietrich doing US folk music in German? This is a 1964 cover of Dylan’s Blowing In The Wind. Dietrich sings it straight, and the arrangement is quite unlike the sort of treatment the Vegas-bound entertainers have given it, despite the use of strings (great flute though). Die Antwort… was coupled with a German version of Joan Baez’s Tell Me Where The Flowers Are. Imagine, the great Marlene Dietrich as West Germany’s proto-hippie!

Richard Harris – MacArthur Park
You can’t argue that actors should never sing if you know Harris’ MacArthur Park. Jim Steinman, who produced Meat Loaf in his pomp, made a career from ripping this song off. Written by the great Jimmy Webb, Harris had the first bite off this little masterpiece in 1968. It seems a strange choice, and at times Harris is warbling a bit; but then, towards the end, Dumbledore hits the falsetto, almost falls over and needs help from the backing singers, and the whole recording reveals itself as a piece of pure demented genius.

Brigitte Bardot – Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus
It was a huge hit for Jane Birkin, but Serge Gainsbourg actually wrote it for BB, who was the first to record it with him in 1968. Married at the time to German playboy Günter Sachs, the future cheerleader for animals and racists asked Gainsbourg not to release the song. So this recording remained locked away for nearly two decades. Birkin’s orgasm is better, but BB makes Serge sound like he’s doing it with a woman where on the Birkin version he sounds like a dirty old man.

Eddie Murphy – Boogie in Your Butt
The sequencing is purely accidental. Having decided to include Murphy in this mix, I was faced with the choice of posting a novelty comedy single, or one of Ed’s stabs at soulmandom. Murphy’s attempts at soul were bad, very bad indeed, and they fail to amuse. Perhaps that is so because much of ’80s soul was so banal that Murphy’s effort just don’t seem absurd. (Of course, much of ’80s soul was great, as I plan to show here in the future.) So we’re left with Murphy’s musings on how the butt can serve as a storage utility (while being quick to point out that the title does not refer to what you and I at first suspected). It’s still not very amusing, but it is more entertaining to see a man failing at what he claims to be good at than at things he had no business attempting in first place. Still, if rumours are true, it seems that a Chelsea player who used to play for another London club took the advice of one line in the final verse. Incidentally, I borrowed this MP3 from the wonderful Mine For Life blog.

Billy Bob Thornton – Angelina
Even for a very sporadic consumer of celebrity news such as myself, it is clear who the song is about. Released in 2001, when Pitt and Rachel were still happily married, Thornton proves that he has no talent as an oracle as he triumphantly proclaims: “They all said we’d never make it.” Stupid, silly them. It’s a rather disturbing song in light of the sexual antics Billy Bob and Angelina reportedly engaged in. “You walked into a wall…you were masked in tiny cuts”. I bet Brad is gentler.

Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) – John, You Went Too Far This Time
Before she became famous as an actress, including her singing role as Loretta Lynn, Spacek tried to become a singer, releasing a solitary single before being fired by her label. The John in the title would be Lennon, and his transgression would be letting it all hang out on the cover of Two Virgins. Sissy is spitting blood over this act of public nudity, and aesthetically I’m inclined to concur. John and Yoko were not attractive naked people. But if Lennon went too far on a record sleeve, then Spacek oversteps the boundaries of musical decency with that chorus (which supposedly was meant to evoke the Beatles sound). Breathtakingly bad.

Robert Mitchum – What Is This Generation Coming To
More sentiments of moral outrage are expressed in Mitchum’s generation-gap calypso opus. Though one suspects that Bob is more likely to piss into the cup of indignation as he alligns his chosen genre with the rock ‘n’ roll, both of which the young people of today (that’d be the late ’50s) are shaking their hips to as furiously as their elders are shaking their heads. Mitchum is a fine case for allowing actors to sing — as long as they remember to return to the set.

Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren – Goodness Gracious Me
One for the race relations board as Sellers does that Indian accent his racist pal Milligan possibly taught him, and applies it in a lewd way in conversation with the lovely Sophia Loren, appearing here uncharacteristically as a kitten of sex. Thing is, much as this song is objectionable, it is very catchy.

David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
Hutch left Starsky in the Gran Torino as he laid on some loverman action on the hitparades in ’77. David troubled the higher reaches of the charts four times within a year, starting with this song, and later with the fantastic Silver Lady (which I’m holding back for a future occasion). One final hurrah with a UK Top 20 hit in 1978, and our man’s singing career was over. A year later, his hit TV show was also over. Soul entered a decline into obscurity and, sadly, alcoholism, until he moved to England in the ’90s to become a star of the stage in the West End.

Joe Pesci – Take Your Love And Shove It
I am certain that the “Am I funny to you?” line was exhausted before Pesci’s “comedy” album was even completed. In case it wasn’t, the answer is no, Joe, you are not funny at all. You were fucking irritating in the Lethal Weapon movies, fucking annoying in that Cousin Vinny shit, fucking acted under the fucking table by fucking De Niro and fucking Woods and even Rocky’s fat fucking brother-in-law when you fucking had your chance at making a fucking impression in Once Upon A Fuckin’ Time In America, and I cheered like a fucking fuck when they fucking shot you in fucking GoodFellas, hoping they used fucking live ammunition while fucking filming the scene. Unfortunately your Vincent Laguardia Gambini comedy shtick was so fucking unfunny that we’re fucking stuck with you in the fucking movies. Fuck off Joe fucking Pesci.

Leonard Nimoy – Highly Illogical
Serving as a counterpoint to another long-faced Leonard releasing records in 1968, Nimoy recorded an amusing LP titled Two Sides Of Leonard Nimoy. Half was Nimoy singing songs such as Gentle On My Mind and If I Were A Carpenter, the other was in Spock character (following up the previous year’s Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space), as on this partly spoken, partly badly-sung track. The kind of thing the term “novelty record” was invented for.

Phyllis Diller – Satisfaction
This a contender for worst recording of all time. It’s also quite funny, possibly in an unintentional way (the “hey hey hey” had me laughing anyway). What turns out to be not funny is the sudden and brief barrage of punchlines for which Diller presumably fired her writers.

Gwyneth Paltrow & Huey Lewis – Cruisin’
Included to fulfill my contractual obligation to feature thespians who sing. Paltrow can hold a tune and even sounds vaguely pleasant, but she should not give up her day job. Now if only she could persuade her husband to stop singing…

Traci Lords – Fallen Angel
A rock-dance type of track from 1995, featuring Katharine Hepburn in character of her great 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story. On the cover, Ms Hepburn looks well-kept and striking a pose to publicise her new blonde image. Another Traci Lords, you say? I would not possibly know anything about that.

Crispin Hellion Glover – These Boots Are Made For Walking
Whatever happened to Marty McFly’s father? Diller’s Satisfaction may be a contender for worst song ever, but she won’t get past Crispin Glover’s non-comedic and description-defying cover of Nancy Sinatra’s hit. It needs to be heard. Once.

David Hasselhoff – Hooked On A Feeling
The Hoff must be included, of course, and how better to follow Crispin Glover’s artistic innovations with something entirely liberated from talent. The opening chant of “Hooga-shagga-hooga-hooga-hooga-shagga” sets up what might well have been the Hasselhoff’s 17th consecutive number 1 in Germany for the shitfest it turns out to be. Talking of Hasselhoff, why are all sorts of crap people turned into cult figures on strength of being the subject of public ridicule? Chuck fucking Norris has been revived from well-earned obscurity, Hasselhoff has become so much of a cult figure that even I refer to him as The Hoff. Give it time, and the pair of war criminals in the White House will find public acclaim on the back of a YouTube video showing them falling over each other.

Marilyn Monroe – Happy Birthday Mr President
And talking of presidents, MM’s scrotum-tickling tribute to JFK in 1962. Monroe, of course, was a pretty good singer, a talent which, like her acting, was often obscured by that breathy blonde shtick she was condemned to keep up. Listen to Kennedy’s acknowledgment at the end. When he says, “I can now retire from politics having had…”, he pauses for a bit, possibly reminding himself that he cannot exercise bragging rights at that particular moment.

TRACKLISTING
1. William Shatner – Common People
2. Ricky Gervais & Liam Gallagher – Freelove Freeway
3. Jack Palance – The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived
4. Marlene Dietrich – Die Antwort weiss ganz allein der Wind
5. Richard Harris – MacArthur Park
6. Brigitte Bardot – Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus
7. Eddie Murphy – Boogie in Your Butt
8. Billy Bob Thornton – Angelina
9. Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) – John You Went Too Far This Time
10. Robert Mitchum – What Is This Generation Coming To
11. Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren – Goodness Gracious Me
12. David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
13. Joe Pesci – Take Your Love And Shove It
14. Leonard Nimoy – Highly Illogical
15. Phyllis Diller – Satisfaction
16. Gwyneth Paltrow & Huey Lewis – Cruisin’
17. Traci Lords – Fallen Angel
18. Crispin Hellion Glover – These Boots Are Made For Walking
19. David Hasselhoff – Hooked On A Feeling
20. Marilyn Monroe – Happy Birthday Mr President (for JFK)

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German hits 1930-42

August 1st, 2007 17 comments

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH NEW MIXES:
www.halfhearteddude.com/2010/05/deutsche_hits_1930-37/
www.halfhearteddude.com/2010/05/germany%e2%80%99s-hitparade-1938-45/

Here is a collection of German hits from 1930-452. It is fascinating stuff, and not only to the German nostalgists. Look at the stars appearing in this collection:

There is the 1936 hit version of “Lili Marleen” by Adolf Hitler’s favourite singer, Lale Andersen (1905-72). “Lili Marleen”, originally composed in 1915 and a hit for Andersen under the title “Lied eines jungen Wachtposten (Lili Marlen)”, was a popular song in World War II across the fronts. At one point, however, the German leadership banned it because it was too morbid. Andersen was used by the Nazi leadership to record English-language “propaganda-jazz”, which would proscribe her post-war activities as an artist for a while. Once her career resumed, she remained a star until shortly before her death.

There is the original version of Marlene Dietrich‘s (1901-92) “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestellt” from Der Blaue Engel (filmed simultaneously as The Blue Angel, 1929), which launched her career internationally. Dietrich’s sister ran a cinema near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, frequented mainly by SS guards. Marlene renounced her sister as a result, yet after the war helped her financially. In post-war West Germany, Dietrich was long regarded by many as a traitor on account of her support for the Allies in WW2. At a 1960 concert in Düsseldorf, an audience member threw an egg at her (in fairness, other audience members gave the offender a beating for his troubles). Dietrich’s last movie appearance was in 1979, in Just A Gigolo, with David Bowie. Maximilian Schell’s 1984 documentary Marlene is worth seeing, if not for the subject matter, then for Schell’s ingenuity in illustrating the recorded interviews with Dietrich after she withdrew permission to be filmed.

There is Pola Negri (1997-1987), the famous femme fatale of the silent movies era and former lover of Rudolfo Valentino and Charlie Chaplin. The Polish-born actress had returned to Europe after her career floundered with the advent of the talkies and after losing a fortune in the Wall Street Crash, acted in a few Joseph Goebbels-commissioned films, then fled Germany as rumours of her part-Jewish ancestry appeared.

There is the magnificent diva Zarah Leander (1907-81), who, with her extravagant gestures and deep voice, was an obvious favourite drag queen character in the West Germany of the ’70s and ’80s. Born in Sweden, Leander’s life would make a great biopic. After breaking through in pre-Anschluss Vienna, she became an instant star in Germany when she moved there in 1936 (becoming a particular favourite of Hitler’s). Leander always claimed to have been apolitical; not everybody was convinced of it.

There is Hans Albers (1891-1960), one of the biggest stars in Nazi Germany but who despised the Nazis. The Nazis forced him to officially split from his half-Jewish girlfriend, Hansi Burg, but he continued to unofficially live with her. In 1939, he arranged for her escape to Switzerland. When she returned to post-war Germany, Albers dropped his girlfriend at the time to reunite with Burg, with whom he lived until his death in 1960. A veteran actor of the silent era, Albers is rightly considered a legend. His hit “Auf Der Reeperbahn Nachts Um Halb Eins” continues to be sung by drunk Germans anywhere.

There is the tragic Joseph Schmidt (1904-42), a Jewish tenor, who was among the first artists to be banned from German radio by the Nazis. A few months after the release of his film Ein Lied geht um die Welt (the title track is featured on this set) in May 1933, Schmidt fled Germany for Vienna, then after the 1938 Anschluß to Belgium, then after its invasion by Germany to France, and following France’s occupation to neutral Switzerland, where he arrived in September 1942. Several escape attempts had weakened Schmidt, leading to his collapse on a Zürich street. He was identified as a Jewish refugee, who in Swiss law were not regarded as political emigrés, and taken to the internment camp Girenbad while his residence application was being processed. There he fell ill, and was treated in a hospital for an inflammation of the throat. Doctors refused to follow up his complaint about chest pains, and Schmidt was returned to Girenbad. Two days later, on November 16, he died of a heart attack. The following day, his approved residence permit arrived.

There is the sextett Comedian Harmonists, which had three Jewish members and sank soon after the Nazis took power. In 1934 the group was prohibited from performing in Germany; after a year of foreign tours the group split in 1936. The three Jewish members emigrated, and formed a band which toured under the same name; the three Aryans formed a sextet called the Meistersextett.

There is actor Heinz Rühmann (1902-94), who remained one of Germany’s biggest stars for close to six decades (and who appeared in the excellent 1930 comedy Die drei von der Tankstelle). Rühmann, reportedly Anne Frank’s favourite actor, was publicly entirely apolitical, but was accused after the war of having divorced his Jewish wife in 1938 so as to protect his career in the Third Reich. However, his next wife (with whom he remained until her death in 1975) had a Jewish grandfather, which caused Rühmann some trouble with the Nazi hierarchy.

There is Paul Hörbiger (1894-1981), an Hungarian-Austrian actor who became a resistance fighter against the Nazis. Arrested by the Nazis in 1945, he was sentenced to death for treason, with the BBC even reporting his death. Hörbiger lived, and enjoyed a long career on film, TV and stage which ended just a year before his death in 1981 at 86. Long revered in Germany and Austria as a grand old gentleman of stage and screen, Hörbiger’s film credits include the classic The Third Man, in which he played Harry Lime’s nameless porter.

There is Johannes Heesters (1903 – ), duetting with Marika Rökk (1913-2004, who was a admirer of Hitler in her day), who is despised in his native Netherlands as a Nazi collaborator. Heesters, who performed for Hitler and in 1941 visited the Dachau concentration camp (apparently to entertain SS guards, which Heesters denies), did not distance himself from the Third Reich hierarchy (as Albers did). Yet, the allies allowed him to continue his career after the war, and — like many of his colleagues tainted by association with the Third Reich — enjoyed great popularity in post-war Germany. Heesters is the world’s oldest active entertainer. His career started in 1921, he last appeared in a TV film in 2003.


There is Lilian Harvey (1906-1968), born in London to English and German parents. During WW1, her father worked in Magdeburg, preventing the family from returning to England. Lilian might have become a big British star; instead her career hit the big time in Germany. After a failed attempt at breaking through in Hollywood, she drew the attention of the Gestapo in the ’30s for her refusal to disassociate from her Jewish friends. Based in France after war, she resumed her career in West Germany.

There are Die Goldene Sieben, who were founded in Berlin by the Nazi party to record “German jazz that would conform to the moral requirements of the Third Reich, as opposed to the “decadent” US jazz. However, the rotating members of the band failed to invent German jazz, doing so much of US-style swinging that Goebbels’ ministry disbanded the group after five years in 1939. Likewise, Peter Igelhoff (1904-78) was considered too jazzy, and was prohibited from public performances and banned from radio in 1942. Instead, the entertainer was drafted into the army and sent to the front. He survived.

And there is Richard Tauber (1891-1948), the Austrian tenor who was the subject of Tom Waits’ blues. Tauber’s Jewish father converted to Catholicism, and even hoped Richard would become a priest. Instead, Richard joined the stage, appearing in operas and operettas. Already a big star in Germany, Täuber was badly beaten up by Nazi thugs, presumably because of his Jewish ancestry, and left Germany for Austria. He fled his homeland when Germany annexed it in 1938. He subsequently became a British citizen, and died in London at the age of 57.


Tracklisting:
Comedian Harmonist – Ein Freund, Ein Guter Freund
Comedian Harmonist – Veronika, der Lenz ist da
Marlene Dietrich – Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt
Richard Tauber – Adieu, Mein Kleiner Gardeoffizier
Siegfried Arno – Wenn Die Elisabeth Nicht So Schöne Beine Hätt
Lilian Harvey – Das Gibt’s Nur Einmal
Paul Hörbiger – Das Muß Ein Stück Vom Himmel Sein
Hans Albers – Flieger, Grüß’ Mir Die Sonne
Lilian Harvey – Wir Zahlen Keine Miete Mehr
Comedian Harmonists – Kleiner Mann Was Nun
Joseph Schmidt – Ein Lied Geht Um Die Welt
Die Goldene Sieben – Ich Wollt’ Ich Wär Ein Huhn

Hans Albers – Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb zwei
Pola Negri – Wenn Die Sonne Hinter Den Dächern Versinkt
Heinz Wehner & His Orchestra – Das Fräulein Gerda
Peter Igelhoff – Der Onkel Doktor Hat Gesagt
Rudi Schuricke – O Mia Bella Napoli
Zarah Leander – Kann Denn Liebe Sünde Sein
Hans Albers – Goodbye, Johnny
Heinz Rühmann – Das Kann Doch Einen Seemann Nicht Erschüttern
Lale Andersen – Lili Marleen
Marika Rökk & Johannes Heester – Musik, Musik, Musik
Ilse Werner – So Wird’s Nie Wieder Sein
Sven Olof Sandberg – Unter Der Roten Laterne Von St Pauli
Zarah Leander – Ich Weiß, Es Wird Einmal Ein Wunder Geschehn