Archive for February 27, 2015

Ton Steine Scherben (TSS) are regarded as one of the first genuine German-language rock groups. The band´s frontman Rio Reiser is credited with cementing the positive connection between rock music and German lyrics.

The group´s name translates as “Clay Stones Shard”, thus both indicating the city´s architecture and suggesting the post-punk “return to concrete”. TSS took a strong anti-capitalist stance and became the musical spokespeople of West Berlin´s left wing. They produced and distributed their work on their own “David (re. Goliath) Volskmund (people´s voice)” label, had links with the squatter scene, the Rote Armee Fraktion in its early days and the Green Pary.

Their single “Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht” became a youth portest motto in the early 1970s and the song “Keine Macht für niemand” (“No power for no-one”) was a familiar graffiti slogan. Rio Reiser preferred to identify with worker´s interests than with those of the intellectual left wing and the band were frequently invited to play for political rallies and demonstrations.

TSS´s lyrics demonstrated a commitment to a utopian anarchy of “Solidarit” (“Mein Name ist Mensch”, “Der Traum ist aus”), a lifestyle which the group attempted to live out with friends and supporters, first in a Berlin commune then in a group-repaired farmhouse in Nordfriesland. What is prominet is the urgently declaimed idealist lyrics delivered by Reiser´s emotional but arresting voice and the band´s obvious sincerity.


A1 Ich will nicht werden, was mein Alter ist
A2 Warum geht es mir so dreckig
A3 Der Kampf geht weiter
A4 Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht
B1 Mein Name ist Mensch
B2 Sklavenhändler
B3 Alles verändert sich

Ton Steine Scherben – Warum geht es mir so dreckig? (1971)
(192 kbps, cover art included)


Political songs had a major forum in Eastern Germany: The “Festival des politischen Liedes”, a festival for political songs that took place every year between 1970 and 1990 in East Berlin.

The festival was founded and until 1980 also organised by the FDJ, the Eastern German official youth association.  Each year between 50 and 80 bands and musicians from about 30 different countries came to present political songs as well as folk and world music with a political touch.

It was one of the few “windows” to the big wide world, a chance to see many international bands and musicians, to get a bit of the flair of cultures from foreign countries where normal Eatern German folk was not allowed to go to, of internationalism.

For young people this festival was a highlight of the year: “The festival broke with the every day life of the GDR. Nights without closing times. Political Carnival. Exceptional situations. Conjugal crisises. Moments of falling in love. New unexpected lyrics and melodies. Different views of the world. Different people that you would otherwise never had met.” This is how Hans-Eckart Wenzel remembers the festivals. He reminds that tickets for the festival were always short, and a lot of people had to stay outside.

Here´s the album with recordings form the 11th “Festival des politischen Liedes” in the year 1981, with artists like Schmetterline, Battlefield Band, Türkischer Arbeiterchor Westberlin, Singegruppe des ANC, Los Jaivas and others.

VA – 11. Festival des politischen Liedes (1981)
(192 kbps, cover art included)