Archive for February 2, 2015


Formed in 1970, Ton Steine Scherben were one of Germany’s first real homegrown rock bands (as opposed to bands covering American and British rock songs), and although they weren’t commercially successful in the normal sense, the group’s influence in Germany has been long-lasting.

With a lineup of vocalist Rio Reiser, guitarist R.P.S. Lanrue, drummer Funky Götzner, bassist Kai Sichtermann, and keyboardist Martin Paul, Ton Steine Scherben (or TSS, as they came to be known) released several independent records on their own dime, recordings that were frequently highly political and controversial.
In time, Ton Steine Scherben shifted ground just slightly and explored more personal territory in their lyrics, but they never abandoned a sort of renegade stance, what in later years would be dubbed “punk.” The first incarnation of TSS disbanded in 1985, but Reiser’s death in 1996 reunited the surviving members for a farewell concert that same year, and they came together again in 2005 for a successful reunion tour and played a gig at the revolutionary May demonstration in Berlin this year.

Here´s another colaboration with the left wing cabaret Kollektiv Rote Rübe, called “Liebe, Tod, Hysterie”.
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Ton Steine Scherben & Kollektiv Rote Rübe – Liebe, Tod, Hysterie (1979)

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A revolutionary artist and a huge influence in his native Germany, singer/songwriter Rio Reiser was born Ralph Möbius in Berlin and spent most of his childhood traveling thanks to his father’s job. As he would say in later interviews, music was an effort to create something like a permanent home. He taught himself guitar, piano, and cello and during his teen years gave himself the stage name Rio Reiser as a reference to Karl Philipp Moritz’s mammoth autobiographical work Anton Reiser.

After he spent some time with the pop group the Beat Kings, he formed an avant-garde theater group with his brother in Berlin. One bizarre opera later, the theater group dissolved, but Reiser had already moved on and joined the rock group Ton Steine Scherben, who released their self-titled debut in 1970. They built a cult following by writing aggressive anthems that spoke to Germany’s leftist youth.

After numerous albums and tours, Ton Steine Scherben broke up in 1985, leaving Reiser to launch a solo career. His debut solo album, Rio 1, arrived in 1986. Through the years he would work with more new wave-oriented producers like Gareth Jones and Annette Humpe, and while his lyrics and politics remained radical, his popularity grew. A 1990 move from Germany’s Green Party to the Communist Party of Democratic Socialism made news and had more conservative radio stations refusing to play his music.

On August 20, 1996, Reiser passed away at his home in Fresenhagen after hepatitis C and internal bleeding led to a cardiovascular collapse.

Here´s a bootleg with the recording of his gig in Mannheim at the Capitol in the year 1988:

Rio Reiser – Live in Mannheim pt. 1
Rio Reiser – Live in Mannheim pt. 2
(192 kbps, front & back cover included)