Archive for November, 2012


The Austrian musician and composer Wolfgang Ambros was born in Pressbaum, Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) in 1952.

Best known for his popular tunes sung in Austrian dialect, Ambros has also been active in other art forms, including radio plays, theater, and films. His 1971 debut single (“Da Hofa”) went to number one on the Austrian charts. The 1976 hit anthem to skiing, “Schifoan” (Skifahren), may be his most popular song of all time in ski-crazy Austria. In 1978 he released his tribute album to Bob Dylan (“Wie im Schlaf”) with Dylan songs such as “Forever Young” or “Like A Rolling Stone” (“Allan wie a Stan”) sung in Viennese dialect.

Ambros has also worked with the team of Manfred Tauchen and Joesi Prokopetz. Together they produced the highly successful comically satiric musical “Alpendrama” album entitled “Der Watzmann ruft” (1974). To date the “Watzmann” album has sold over 250,000 copies and there have been several live revival performances of “Der Watzmann ruft”.

Ambors, Tauchen, Prokopetz – Der Watzmann ruft
(192 kbps, cover art included)

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In spite of their own government’s refusal to oppose Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco (until Hitler signed his infamous non-aggression pact with Stalin, he was actually seen as a bulwark against the Red hoards by far too many Western pundits) young men and women from around the world came to Spain on their own to fight for the Republican cause.

The International Brigade was composed of German, American, Canadian, and others from across Europe who came to fight the fascists. Since their own governments had refused to aid the Republicans, and in some instances had tried their best to prevent people from doing so, it wasn’t very surprising that the returning soldiers at the end of the war were ignored in their own countries.

Some, like the Germans and the Italian, had to become refugees because they couldn’t go home.
 
“Canciones de las Brigadas Internacionales” is another part of Ernst Busch´s recordings on the “Aurora” label between 1964 and 1974 for his wonderful “Chronicle of the first half of the 20st century in songs and ballads”. It is the second collection in this series with ballads and hymns related to the fight of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
 
Tracklist:
A1 Mamita Mia
A2 Himno De Riego / Himno Republicana
A3 Los Campesinos
A4 Suite
A5 Vorwärts, Internationale Brigade
B1 Nuestra Bandera
B2 In dem spanischen Land
B3 Ballade der XI. Brigade
C1 Canto Nocturno En Las Trincheras
C2 An der Sierra-Front
C3 Die Thälmann-Kolonne
D1 Wie könnten wir je vergessen das Land
D2 Lincoln-Bataillon
D3 Am Rio Jarama, Februar 1937
 
The tracks of side A are recorded in a continous flow, so they are merged in one track.
 
(320 kbps, cover art included, vinyl rip)

Here´s another part of Ernst Busch´s recordings on the “Aurora” label between 1964 and 1974 for his wonderful “Chronicle of the first half of the 20st century in songs and ballads”. “Die Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre” is a collection of political ballads related to the history of the 1920s in Germany.

Golden Twenties or Happy Twenties is a term, mostly used in Europe, to describe the 1920s, in which most of the continent had an economic boom following the First World War and the severe economic downturns that took place between 1919–1923, and before the Wall Street Crash in 1929. In France, the period was called Les Années folles.

It is often applied to Germany, which during the early 1920s, experienced, like most of Europe, record-breaking levels of inflation of one trillion percent between January 1919 and November 1923. The inflation was so severe that printed currency was often used for heating and other uses, and everyday requirements like food, soap, electricity cost a wheelbarrow full of banknotes. Such events, among many other factors, triggered the rise of fascism in Italy, as well as the ill-fated “Beer Hall Putsch”, masterminded by a young Adolf Hitler.

Before long, the Weimar Republic under Chancellor Gustav Stresemann managed to tame the extreme levels of inflation by the introduction of a new currency, the Rentenmark, with tighter fiscal controls and reduction of bureaucracy, leading to a relative degree of political and economic stability.

“Kennst du das Land” is based on the famous anti-war poem by Erich Kästner. The music for “Ballade von den Säckeschmeisern”, “Stempellied 1929”, “Spartakus 1919” and “Ballade vom Nigger Jim” was written by Hanns Eisler.

Tracklist:
A1. Dolchstoß-Legende Julian Arendt; Otto Stranzky
A2. Das Seifenlied Julian Arendt; Otto Stranzky
B1. Spartakus 1919  Hanns Eisler
B2. Stempellied 1929 Hanns Eisler; David Weber
C1. Kennst Du das Land Erich Kästner; Günther Freundlich
C2. Ballade von den Säckeschmeißern Hanns Eisler; Julian Arendt; Ernst Busch
D1. Ballade vom Neger Jim Hanns Eisler; David Weber
D2. Black and white Ernst Busch

Ernst Busch – Die Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre (Aurora)
(320 kbps, vinyl rip, cover art included)

Ernst Busch was called “the singing heart of the labor movement”. He was, along with Helene Weigel, one of the best-known singer/actors who popularized Brecht’s political plays in the early 30s. His powerful, “metallic” voice was a perfect instrument for outdoor rallies and large performance halls in a time when amplification was generally unavailable. Busch spent the last years of the war in a Nazi prison and, following his release, resumed his singing and acting career in East Germany.

On March 9, 1933, Busch escaped Nazi Germany for the Netherlands, where he worked at Radio Hilversum. His exile took him to Belgium, France and Switzerland; in 1935 he moved on to Moscow, working for the Comintern radio station. From January 1937 to August 1938, he worked as an artist entertaining the International Brigades in Spain and on Radio Madrid. In 1938 he took part in concerts held in Belgium to support volunteers in the Spanish civil war and Jewish refugees from Germany. Busch was arrested in Antwerp on May 10, 1938 and deported to France, where he was interned in the St. Cyprien and Gurs camps.

This EP is a part of Ernst Busch´s recordings on the “Aurora” label between 1964 and 1974 for his wonderful “Chronicle of the first half of the 20st century in songs and ballads”.  It features songs rememebering the fight of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil war. The songs were recorded between June, 1966 and January, 1967, with the conductor Adolf Fritz Guhl.

Tracks:
A1 Riego-Hymne
A2 Söhne des Volkes
A3 Las Companias de Acero
A4 Halt´ stand, rotes Madrid

B1 Wenn das Eisen mich mäht
B2 Hans Beimler, Kamerad
B3 Abschied von der Front
B4 Es wird die neue Welt geboren

Ernst Busch – Spanien – Venceremos (Aurora, 1967)
(320 kbps, cover art included, vinyl rip)

 



The Critics Group, also known as The London Critics Group, was a group of people who met to explore how best to apply the techniques of folk-music and drama to the folk revival under the direction of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, with some participation from Bert Lloyd and Charles Parker. Running for eight years from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s this was not a conventional musical group as it had no permanent line-up.
MacColl practised stark learning techniques and versed his students in Folk songs, theater and performance science, ethnography and the Marxist canon.

It started out as a study group for singers, meeting once a week at MacColl and Seeger’s home in Beckenham, attempting to raise the standards of singing. One of the main activities of the meetings was group criticism and discussion of each other’s performances which subsequently earned the group its name, coined by Charles Parker when pressed for a name by a radio interviewer.

Many of the meetings were recorded, and some of these recordings are held as part of the The Charles Parker Archive which is held in the Birmingham City Archive and Heritage Service.
The group organised regular Club nights at the Union Tavern in the Farringdon Road which attracted musicians from all over the world. The best part of these evenings was often the ‘lock ins’ which developed into impromptu musical sessions until the early hours of the morning. Under the guidance of McColl, a noted draatist, Seeger and Parker, they went on to produce an annual show called the Festival of Fools which always attracted critical notice in the national press. Staged each Christmas for five years, they satirised events of the previous year through sketches and songs, loosely based around folk customs and songs. They were performed in the back room of a North London pub, the New Merlin’s Cave.

Members of the group included Frankie Armstrong, Bob Blair, Brian Byrne (UK), Helen Campbell (UK), Jim Carroll (UK), Ted Culver, John Faulkner (UK), Richard Humm, Allen Ives, Sandra Kerr, Paul Lenihan, Pat Mackenzie, Jim O’Connor, Maggie O’Murphy, Tom Paley, Brian Pearson, Michael Rosen, Buff Rosenthal, Susanna Steele, Denis Turner, Jack Warshaw, Terry Yarnell.

In 1972 the principal performing members of the Critics Group broke away from MacColl’s leadership and formed the left-wing theatre group Combine, which produced weekly events in an east London pub, the Knave of Clubs. They created songs, plays and other events in a similar manner to the Critics, culminating in the Vietnam Victory Show of April 1975 which celebrated the final liberation of Saigon.

The folk music revival, which swept the US and Britain in the early 1960s, resulted in the new generation of musicians rediscovering the riches of musical tradition created over centuries passed. As opposed to Classical music, folklore was created outside of the musical “establishment” over the centuries, mostly by troubadours and non-professional authors, which of course doesn’t make that this music is in any way inferior to the Classical heritage, it is simply different. Before Folk turned into Folk-Rock by the mid-1960s, hordes of musicians sang traditional material and created new songs in the spirit of the Folk tradition. This album documents the work of the British ensemble The Critics Group, which was quite well known at the time. This album, which collects folk songs from the streets of London, from Elizabethan times to present, is a beautiful example of how the folk tradition can be preserved and cherished. The group members are all excellent singers with splendid voices. The songs are mostly performed a cappella, as they were sung originally, but some have instrumental accompaniment. Overall this is a charming album, aimed at listeners who like traditional folklore.


Tracklist:
 
Side One
1 Street Cries (trad)
2 Tottie (Dagonet aka G.R. Sims) – Terry Yarnell
3 Judges and Juries (trad) – Ted Culver (unaccompanied)
4 Parson Grocer (trad) – John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, plus chorus, banjo
5 Betsy Baker (MacColl/Gardner) – John Faulkner (unaccompanied)
6 Plank Bed Ballad (Dagonet aka G.R. Sims) – Terry Yarnell, plus whistle, concertina
7 The Jail Song (trad) – Ted Culver, plus chorus, guitar
8 William and Phyllis (trad) – Sandra Kerr (unaccompanied)
9 Randolph Turpin, Sugar Ray Fight (MacColl/’The Professor’) – Terry Yarnell, plus chorus, guitars, spoons, yazoo, etc.

Side Two
1 Supermarket Song (Marigold/Turner/O’Connor/MacColl) – John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, plus chorus, banjo
2 Ratcliffe Highway (trad) – Jim O’Connor (unaccompanied)
3 Outward Bound (trad) – John Faulkner, plus chorus, concertina
4 My Jolly Sailor Bold (trad) – Sandra Kerr, voice and autoharp
5 The Streets of London (Irish Trad/Hasted) – Jim O’Connor, plus chorus, concertina, guitar
6 The Colour-Bar Strike (MacColl/Mayo) – John Faulkner, plus two guitars
7 The Landlord’s Nine Questions (Seeger) – Sandra Kerr, plus chorus
8 Sweet Thames Flow Softly (MacColl) – John Faulkner, plus chorus, zither, guitar

The Critic´s Group – Sweet Thames Flow Softly (1966)
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Playwright, poet and lyricist Bertolt Brecht was among the most controversial figures ever to impact musical theatre; an avowed Marxist, he often worked in tandem with composer Kurt Weill to create one of the most provocative bodies of work ever staged. Brecht was born February 10, 1898 in Augsburg, Bavaria; while attending Munich University, he was drafted to serve as a medic in World War I, later forging a career as a writer. His early Expressionist dramas -“Trommeln in der Nacht”, “Baal” and “Im Dickicht der Stadte” – reflected his anti-establishment leanings, as well as an obsession with violence; he then spent the majority of the 1920s touring the cabaret circuits of Germany and Scandinavia, often courting further controversy over the outspoken politics and nihilistic edge of his songs.

 

In 1928 Brecht earned his greatest theatrical success with “Die Dreigroschenoper”, a musical adaptation of John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” featuring music composed by Weill; like the previous year’s Mann Ist Mann and 1929’s “Mahagonny”, it spotlighted the playwright’s gift for incisive satire of bourgeois sensibilities. By 1933, Brecht – exiled to Denmark in the wake of the Reichstag fire – had acquired an international reputation on the strength of work like “The Threepenny Opera”, which opened in an English-language version on Broadway. An outspoken critic of the Nazis, his plays, poems and radio dramas of the period attacked the Hitler regime with thinly-veiled contempt; finally, in 1941 he was forced to flee to Hollywood to escape the Nazis’ wrath, settling there to write works including Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis and Leben des Galilei. In 1947 Brecht was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his pro-Communist beliefs; he then moved to East Berlin, where he established his own theater, the Berliner Ensemble. He died on August 14, 1956.

Eric Bentley (born September 14, 1916) is a British-born American critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator.
Beginning in 1953, Bentley taught at Columbia University and simultaneously was a theatre critic for The New Republic. Known for his blunt style of theatre criticism, Bentley incurred the wrath of playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, both of whom threatened to sue him for his unfavorable reviews of their work. From 1960-1961, Bentley was the Norton professor at Harvard University.

Bentley is considered one of the preeminent experts on Bertolt Brecht, whom he met at UCLA as a young man and whose works he has translated extensively. He edited the Grove Press issue of Brecht’s work, and recorded two albums of Brecht’s songs for Folkways Records, most of which had never before been recorded in English.

In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

Bentley became an American citizen in 1948, and currently lives in New York City.

The album “Bentley on Brecht” was recorded in New York City, 1962 and released on Riverside Records in the same year. It contains songs and poems written by Bertolt Brecht read and sung by Eric Bentley, accompanied on harmonium and piano.

Eric Bentley – Bentley On Brecht (1962)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

In 1971 the polit rock band Floh de Cologne created the first German-language rock opera called “Profitgeier”, an aggressive concept album criticizing exploitation and capitalism. Sometimes Floh de Cologne – an essential part of the left political scene in the BRD in the 1970s – were compared with the wonderful Fugs.

Their rather simple music and their lyrics – strongly influenced by the jargon of the DKP, the german communist party, formed in 1968 by former KPD functionaries in close cooperation with the East Germany’s ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED), from which the DKP received both political directives and most of its funds – have an out-dated effect for todays listeners. The theory of Karl Marx and his analysis of the capitalist system were the basis for their reflections about contemporary life. Even if this seems sometimes one-dimensional, the essence of their lyrics is up to date in the present conflicts and the crisis of the capitalist system.

Here´s a fine example of their dialectic lyrics:
“Der Unternehmer heißt Unternehmer, weil er etwas unternimmt.
Der Arbeiter heißt Arbeiter, weil er arbeitet.
Würden die Arbeiter was unternehmen, müssten die Unternehmer arbeiten.”

.
The GDR cultural administration supported Floh de Cologne. They arranged live performances at the “Festival des politischen Liedes” and at the “X. Weltjugendfestspiele” in 1973. The label Amiga released “Profitgeier” in 1972 as a licence album from the Pläne label.

(192 kbps, front cover included)

Hannes Wader (born 23 June 1942 in Bethel near Bielefeld, Germany as Hans Eckard Wader) is a musician and songwriter. Beside Konstantin Wecker he is one of the las songwriters of the “old school”.

Initially known as a socially critical chansonnier, he had a strong influence on the anti-authoritarian movement in 1970. In the 1970s, Hannes Wader became one of the stars of the political left through his provocative songs. Since the late 1970s until 1991 he was engaged as a member of the DKP (German communist party) and has performed at many political events. He interpreted socialist workers’ songs and hymns. Wader even came under suspicions of terrorism because of his song Der Tankerkönig, a spoken song about kidnapping a tycoon. Since the 1990s, Wader performs folk songs and songs from the Romantic era besides his own tunes.

The album “7 Lieder” from 1972 contains one of his most famous song, “Heute hier, morgen dort” (“here today, gone tomorrow”).

Hannes Wader – 7 Lieder (1972)
(192 kbps, no cover included)

The German actress/singer Sylvia Anders is a Bertolt Brecht expert, which she first demonstrated on her 1979 album “Hollywood Elegies”.

On this album, titled simply “Bertolt Brecht”, she presents songs with Brecht lyrics and music by Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler, as might be expected, but also finds some music actually composed by Brecht. “How many people are aware of the fact that the melody of the ‘Lied der Seeräuber Jenny’ or ‘Barbara Song’ is originally by Brecht himself?,” the unsigned liner notes ask.

The point here is not that the familiar melodies were written by Brecht, not Weill, but that Brecht wrote his own dummy tunes for his lyrics. Anders resurrects those melodies in her version of the song known in English as “Pirate Jenny,” and in her version of “Barbara Song,” also featured in The Threepenny Opera, she first sings to Brecht’s tune, then switches and sings to the Weill music. These rare inclusions are in keeping with her overall approach, which is far less strident than the usual interpretations of Brecht’s songs, and far more emotional and vulnerable. Anders’ take on “Surabaya-Johnny,” for instance, has less bitterness than most singers give it, and more tenderness. This is, thus, a fresh interpretation, and a more personal one than most.

“The whole range of Eisler´s Lied oeuvre from the `Konzertlied´ to `Song´ is overwhelmingly convincing…” Gisela May states that Sylvia Anders´ dynamic and histrionic abilities on this record were “extraordinary”.

Sylvia Anders – Bertolt Brecht (Myto Records)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

 
Isabel Parra is a famous Chilean singer-songwriter and interpreter of Latin American musical folklore. She was part of the “Nueva canción” (Spanish for ‘new song’) movement –  a movement and genre within Latin American and Iberian music of folk music, folk-inspired music and socially committed music. Nueva canción is widely recognized to have played a powerful role in the social upheavals in Portugal, Spain and Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. Salvador Allende´s Unidad Popular government had enormous support among Nueva canción musicians who composed the campaign song “Poder Popular” for the presidential election of 1970 and recorded “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” in June 1973.

Isabel Parra was born in Chile in 1939 and began her career in music at the age of 13 when she made her first recording with her world-renowned mother, the folklorist Violeta Parra. She has since interpreted and recorded the songs of some of the most famous Latin American folk singers. After the September 11, 1973 Chilean coup d’etat she lived in exile in Argentina and France for many years. She returned to Chile when democracy returned to her country.

Isabel Parra has toured extensively during her career and was a distinctive figure in the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement. Isabel Parra is also the sister of the famous folk singer Ángel Parra and the niece of the famous poet Nicanor Parra.

Isabel Parra visited the GDR several times in the 1960s and 1970s –  for example to take part in the “X. Weltfestspiele der Jugend” in 1973. 
In 1971 Gerhard Siebholt and Karl Heinz Ocasek produced this album with Isabel Parra and the musicians from Quilapayun in the AMIGA studio, East Berlin. It was released in 1972 and is a part GDR’s support for the struggle of the Chilean people and the Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende for a better tomorrow, one of equality and free from tyranny – music as “a weapon in the anti-imperialist struggle”.

Tracklist:

 
01 – La muralla
02 – A desolambrar
03 – Que dira el Sto, Padre
04 – Ayudame, Valentina
05 – Canto de la cuculi
06 – Deme su voz, deme su vano
07 – Por Vietnam
08 – Lo que mas quiera
09 – Quiaquenita
10 – En septiembre canta el gallo
11 – Elegia al Che
12 – El desconfiado
13 – Solita duermo en mi cama
14 – Amores Bailando
15 – Comienza la vida nueva
 
(320 kbps, cover art included)