DISCO DEUTSCHLAND DISCO
Disco, Funk & Philly Anthems From Germany 1975-1980
DISCO DEUTSCHLAND DISCO

Marina Records

Compiled and annotated by Stefan Kassel

01.  Su Kramer : You’ve Got The Power Pt.1

“I’m a woman, and I want you tonight, come on baby, and do it alright…” Welcome to Teutonic boogie wonderland, fellow disco citizens. Su Kramer (*1946) kickstarts our party of German glitterball grooves with the anthemic “You’ve Got The Power Pt.1” - a song that has, strangely enough, only been issued as a 7” single. The track was written by Joachim Heider & Christian Heilburg, kind of the German Gamble & Huff during the mid-70s - a powerhouse songwriting team behind many of the coolest Philly-infused productions from Germany. Su Kramer started her career (alongside Donna Summer!) as a cast member of the first German musical production of “Hair” in 1968, and went on to record quite a few critically acclaimed solo albums, usually in the MOR genre. “You’ve Got The Power” is one of her few excursions to the disco galaxy. And what a trip it is! “You’ve got the power, come and be my man, if you think you love me, show me you can…” Oh yeah. Trainspotter info: Su Kramer’s “Magic Dance”, an album track from 1978, was sampled by German hip-hop act Deichkind for their hit single “Bon Voyage” (2000).

02. Supermax : Lovemachine

Music to make love by. This is as orgasmic as it gets. The appropriately titled “Lovemachine” is pure tease and tension, the disco equivalent of Ravel’s “Bolero”. Riding on a mega-cool groove, the song just grabs you and never lets you go for its entire run of 8 minutes and 35 seconds of aural stimulation. It’s one of the few disco songs where the long version is actually better than the radio edit. Every second of this unique masterpiece makes total sense. The single version leaves out the entire “Ah-Huga” section of the song which is a shame shame shame. The man behind Supermax is multi-instrumentalist Kurt Hauenstein (*1949), a guy who looks exactly like his music: a long-haired disco pimp with a drug-dealer’s macho moustache. He still runs the band today and tours regularly. In 2000 Hauenstein collaborated with Hamburg’s hip-hop crew 5 Sterne Deluxe on the superb “Stop Talking Bull” single. Ah-Huga!

03. Amanda Lear : Fashion Pack (Studio 54)

“Who is in, who is out, tell me, tell me, tell me…” The story of disco in a nutshell. “Fashion Pack” perfectly captures the hedonism and glitz of disco nightlife, name-checking the coke-fueled in-crowd of Studio 54 (Andy, Margaux, Bianca…). The song was written by Lear and her German producer Anthony Monn, the team responsible for all of Amanda’s huge disco hits (“Follow Me”, “Queen Of Chinatown”). Born in Hong Kong in 1946, deep-voiced Miss Lear led quite an extraordinary jet set life. Over the years she worked as fashion model, disco queen, painter, actress, songwriter and TV presenter. She hung out with pop stars like David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Brian Jones, appeared in Charles Wilp’s famous “Afri Cola” commercial, posed for Helmut Newton and Playboy magazine, and was busy being Salvador Dali’s “muse” for many years (she even wrote a book about her time with the maestro). And yes, that’s her on the cover of the second Roxy Music album “For Your Pleasure” (1973), dressed to kill in black from head to toe. Quite a woman. Quite a career.

04. Marianne Rosenberg : Wieder Zusammen

Now that’s what we call aural champagne. During the 70s Marianne Rosenberg (*1955) was Germany’s Philly Queen No. 1, scoring huge hits like “Marleen”, “Ich Bin Wie Du” and “Er Gehört Zu Mir”. Today these songs are evergreens, and also big favorites of the gay community. “Wieder Zusammen” (Together Again) from 1976 is probably the ultimate peak of Rosenberg’s work. The song boasts a fantastic Joachim Heider melody, great lyrics by Christian Heilburg, a powerhouse arrangement by Peter Schirmann and, of course, Marianne’s unique, one-in-a-million voice. Simply gorgeous. I first heard this song as a teenager, when I swapped a set of autographs of the FC Bayern Munich soccer team (Beckenbauer, Müller, Hoeness, etc) for Marianne’s “Lieder Der Nacht” (Songs Of The Night) album with a school mate. It’s still one of the best deals I ever made. The guy who got the autographs probably thinks the same. The song has never failed to give me goosebumps ever since. Aloha.

05. Alfie Khan Sound Orchestra : Illegal Toys

It’s getting hot in here. Ladies and gentlemen, The Sound Of Philadelphia - made in Berlin. Obviously influenced by T.S.O.P. and Barry White, Joachim Heider (aka Alfie Khan) produced some of the greatest German dancefloor hits of the 70s (Marianne Rosenberg, Su Kramer, etc). During that time he also cut two cool solo albums under the moniker Alfie Khan Sound Orchestra. As usual, Heider’s compositions are propelled to glossy disco heights by the great arrangements of Peter Schirmann, who’s probably best known for his work as a soundtrack composer (“Fluchtweg St. Pauli”). The Alfie Khan Sound Orchestra consisted of Berlin’s top studio players (incl. super drummer Tom Holm Jr.) and the Deutsche Oper string section. Heider usually recorded in Berlin’s famous Hansa Studios, also frequented around that time by international stars like David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Built on a proto-house riff, “Illegal Toys” is constantly on fire - breathlessly galloping from one peak to the next. We’re waiting for the David Morales remix! And the song’s intro just screams to get sampled. Burn baby burn.

06. Veronika Fischer & Band : Philodendron

Disco - the East German way. Even behind the Iron Curtain they knew how to get down and boogie. Here’s proof, brothers and sisters: “Philodendron” - written by Veronika Fischer’s keyboardist Franz Bartzsch - is pure Philly heaven with a great Nile Rodgers-like guitar part. While clearly drawing inspiration from Van McCoy’s “The Hustle”, Veronika Fischer & Band create their own irresistible disco sensation. Unfortunately it was the group’s only excursion to this truly decadent western music genre and the song was only issued on a rare 7” single. Miss Fischer (*1951) usually prefered to record more sober sounding pop/rock chansons. Her career began in 1973 as the singer of rock group Panta Rhei (whose members went on to form Karat). In 1974 Fischer went solo and quickly became one of East Germany’s favorite vocalists, before fleeing the country in 1981. She continued to record successfully in West Germany, and still sells out huge venues today. It’s just too bad that she doesn’t do the Philodendron anymore!

07. Berry Lipman : Sex World

“Sex World, do what you will, Sex World, you’ll have your fill…” Welcome to the pleasuredome. This is the sound of Berry Lipman (*1921, real name: Friedel Berlipp), one of Germany’s most prolific songwriters/producers ever. During his long career he produced more than 5000 songs working with artists like Petula Clark, Charles Aznavour and Cliff Richard. His own compositions “Keep On Smiling” and “The Girls From Paramaribo” became easy listening classics that are still played on the radio today. “Sex World” originates from the soundtrack of the sci-fi TV series “Star Maidens” (1975), where it was used as an instrumental (under the title “Highway Patrol”). In 1977 lyrics by Frank A. Coe were added, and the song became the title theme of American porn flick “Sex World”. Sung by studio vocalist Toni McVey, it was only issued on a super-rare 7” on the small Soultown label. “You’ll find your love, below or above…”

08. Munich Machine : Get On The Funk Train Pt.1

“Welcome on board. Destination: Funk...” The sound of Munich in excelsis. “Get On The Funk Train” features all the trademarks of Giorgio Moroder’s ground-breaking productions. A bass drum worthy of New Order’s “Blue Monday”, a killer bass line, and a sequencer-like hook topped off by swirling strings and multi-layered vocals. In 1977 this was new and cutting edge. In fact, it still sounds fresh and contemporary today. Munich Machine was basically Giorgio Moroder’s studio band, a group of musicians that played on most of the disco recordings made in Munich, featuring, among others, Keith Forsey, Thor Baldursson, Les Hurdle, Mats Björklund and Frank Diez. Moroder’s innovative work yielded many international hits, leading to his lucrative Hollywood film music career (“American Gigolo”, “Flashdance”, “Scarface”, etc). In case you just can’t get enough of riding the funk train, check out the 16 minute album version which occupies the entire first side of Munich Machine’s self-titled, much sought-after debut album. The studio group is still held in high esteem these days. International gigolo DJ Hell even named one of his albums after them.

09. Ambros Seelos : Gimmi More

Occasionally even middle-aged guys knew how to bump. Ambros Seelos (*1935), one of Germany’s most prolific bandleaders, certainly had no problem with turning on the disco fever when requested. Triggered by a super-sharp metallic guitar lick, his kick-ass “Gimmi More” is 100 % fat-free dancefloor pleasure. The white-hot track even features traces of early German electro. The song never saw an official release when it was originally recorded (1980), so we are proud to finally present it here. “Gimmi More” wasn’t Mr Seelos’s only trip to planet disco: In 1979 he and his band scored and starred in the cash-in disco movie “Midnight Sound”. The cover of the soundtrack album shows the entire Seelos crew decked out in full-fledged Travolta gear! Mr Seelos’s other disco connection is via his long-time band member Sylvester Levay, the musical mastermind behind Silver Convention! Make sure to also check out Seelos’s memorable appearance on the Marina compilation “The In-Kraut Vol. 2” (MA 67). Fly Ambros fly…

10. Ganymed : Dancing In A Disco

Ganymed, a bunch of freaky disco aliens from Vienna, were really something else. The band claimed to hail from Jupiter’s biggest moon Ganymed (named after a homoerotic character from Greek mythology). They used to wear strange outer-space costumes with penis-shaped noses (except for their female singer, that is), and their lyrics were usually space-themed futuristic trips. Way out, even for Austrians. In 1979 Ganymed hit the European charts with their big disco smash “It Takes Me Higher”. A true Eurodisco classic. The infectious “Dancing In A Disco” is taken from the band’s second album “Future World”. Ganymed’s spacy, Moroder-esque sound aged so well, that it still sounds contemporary. You can easily imagine hearing their songs in a hip DJ set with the latest electro and French house cuts of today. Dance, dance, dance…

11. James Last : I Can’t Move No Mountains

Even James Last (*1929), Germany’s best selling music export ever, got funky on occasion. Yes, indeed. For his appropriately titled album “Well Kept Secret” (1975), Sir James went to Los Angeles and hired the creme de la creme of the local studio pros. Accompanied by such top-notch players as Jim Gordon (drums), Larry Carlton (guitar), Dean Parks (guitar), Larry Muhoberac (keyboards) and Tom Scott (flute), Last cut one of the best albums of his career. Wes Farrell, the man behind the successful Partridge Family albums, produced and co-arranged. The results are simply stunning and don’t sound like James Last at all. The record wasn’t a big seller at the time, but eventually became a cult classic and DJ favorite. Mr Last, who has recorded more than 200 full-length LPs, himself regards the album as a special career peak. “I Can’t Move No Mountains” is just one of the many highlights from the record - a magnificent slice of laid-back jazzy disco featuring a great “Rockford Files”-like keyboard part. Sha-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la…

12. Silver Convention : Love In A Sleeper

Silver Convention, Munich’s most successful disco confection ever, was the brainchild of writers/producers Michael Kunze (lyrics) and Sylvester Levay (music). After recruiting a trio of female studio singers, they quickly scored gold with songs like “Save Me”, “Fly Robin Fly” and “Get Up And Boogie”. “Fly Robin Fly” - a track whose entire lyrics consist of just six words - even hit the No. 1 spot in the US charts and won a Grammy Award, an unheard-of achievement for a German act. In 1977 the group took part in the Eurovision Song Contest with the ABBA-flavored “Telegram”. “Love In A Sleeper” is the title song of the band’s fifth and final album which was recorded both in Munich and Philadephia’s famous Sigma Sound studios. The track is just buzzing with high-octane energy, especially during the extended instrumental section! Vocalist Penny McLean had left the group by then for a solo career, scoring hits with “Lady Bump” and “1-2-3-4 Fire”. Today she’s a successful author of esoteric books, while lyricist/producer Kunze writes hit musicals and acclaimed historic literature. You see, there is life after disco…

13. Christian Anders : Running Away

This is by far the most unusual entry on this compilation. “Running Away” hails from the soundtrack of super-obscure kung fu movie “Die Brut Des Bösen” (US title: “Roots Of Evil”). The track was co-written by the film’s director, screenwriter and leading actor Christian Anders (*1945), one of Germany’s biggest Schlager stars of the 70s. Anders, though best known for schmaltzy ballads, is one of a kind who defies categorization - a truly spaced-out character with many interests and talents. A black belt in karate, he has composed more than 1000 songs, written esoteric books, crime novels, theatre plays and musicals, and even tried to establish himself as a religious leader under the name “Lanoo”! He also claims to have had sex with more than 2000 women. Well... Though “Die Brut Des Bösen”, co-starring Anders’s then-girlfriend singer/actress Dunja Raiter, is most definitely a forgettable martial arts B-movie, it certainly had a way cool soundtrack. “Running Away” is a top-notch funk workout with a superb guitar part, nice Fender Rhodes touches and a dead-on groove. Fortunately Mr Anders had the good sense not to sing over this kick-ass instrumental. Thank you, Lanoo!

14. Jackie Carter : Treat Me Like A Woman

Here’s one that will surely set your platform shoes on fire: Riding on an incredibly funky guitar lick, Jackie Carter (aka Jacqueline Nemorin) delivers pure mirrorball magic. Though Carter started out as a session vocalist with Silver Convention, she opted for a solo career and this was her first shot at it. “Treat Me Like A Woman” was written by Jackie’s then-lover Frank Diez (*1950), one of Germany’s most prolific guitar players. During a long career he worked with such diverse acts as Peter Maffay, Donna Summer, Eric Burdon, Atlantis and Giorgio Moroder’s Munich Machine. In fact, with “Treat Me Like A Woman” he did a pretty good job emulating a classic Moroder production. Diez had some cool collaborators at his side: The stabbing disco strings were arranged by none other than Peter Herbolzheimer, while producer Dieter Dierks is best known for his long-time work with the Scorpions. P.S.: During the course of the song Miss Carter repeats its title exactly 30 times. So by the end of the track, you really should know what to do...

15. Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra : Opium

German film music legend Peter Thomas (*1925) is one of a kind, and whatever he does is special. While he’s best known for his scores for the sci-fi series “Raumpatrouille” and the Edgar Wallace movies, he also knew how to cook up some serious dancefloor action. Thomas’s “Opium”, originally a super-rare 7” b-side from 1976 (reissued as a 12” on Marina in 1998), just kicks like a mother. Riding closely on the heels of Deodato’s hit “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, Peter delivers a handsome little disco monster from start to finish. The performance of his “orchestra” - consisting of Munich’s usual group of discofied studio players - is incredibly inspired. Just check out the outstanding bass playing! Hallelujah. For more of Peter’s genius we recommend Marina’s essential Thomas compilation “Moonflowers & Mini-Skirts” (MA 56) which features, among many other cool things, one of Donna Summer’s earliest recordings (“Black Power”, 1969). Thomas can also be heard on our “The In-Kraut” (MA 66) compilation chopping the Rolling Stones’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to pieces. Sir Peter, we salute you!

16. Peter Herbolzheimer Rhythm Combination & Brass : Feedback Brother

“Feedback brother, tell your mother… harmonizer, hypnotizer, equalizer…” Trombonist extraordinaire Peter Herbolzheimer (*1935) is one of Germany’s best bandleaders/arrangers ever. His career started way back in the late 50s, playing trombone in several radio orchestras (including a stint with Bert Kaempfert). In 1969 Herbolzheimer formed Rhythm Combination & Brass, a rocking big band with a fresh new sound for the changing times. Over the years, the group cut many successful albums, usually in the jazz fusion genre, and was regularly voted Europe’s leading big band. In 1972 Herbolzheimer reached a huge worldwide audience when his compositions were played at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Munich. The super-funky, percussion-heavy “Feedback Brother” hails from his grooviest album ever, the much sought-after “I Hear Voices” (1978). As usual, Herbolzheimer is accompanied by such top-flight musicians as Ack van Rooyen, Bob Lanese, Derek Watkins and Rob Franken. Herbolzheimer, who celebrated his 70th birthday in 2005, still performs with RC&B these days. Respect, feedback brother!

17. Carsten Bohn’s Bandstand : Disco Cisco

“They’re singing you should stay alive, as if you wanted to die, just a couple of months ago, they told you ‘Robin Fly’…” Woah! Though this song is basically a disco diss, name-checking songs by the Bee Gees and Silver Convention, it is so damn well executed and danceable that it just had to be included here. Riding on a superb latin-flavored rhythm track, the tongue-in-cheek disco workout just makes you wanna shake your butt and do the Hustle. “Disco Cisco” is taken from the second album by Carsten Bohn’s Bandstand, a group that usually sounded more like Steely Dan than The Trammps. Bandleader Carsten Bohn (*1948) is a well-traveled music biz veteran. He started out in the 60s playing drums for The City Preachers and later Frumpy (both feat. Inga Rumpf on vocals), worked with Jan Hammer, runs a recording studio and his own record label (BigNote), and composed music for numerous films and radio plays, most notably for the “Die Drei ???” series. Bohn’s son Dennis (aka DJ Bonebreaker) is a successful producer/songwriter for dancefloor acts like Brooklyn Bounce and Special D. “I’m not going out tonight, I don’t wanna see the light…”

18. Su Kramer : You’ve Got The Power Pt.2

Ladies and gentlemen, disco girls and disco boys, thanks for joining us on our trip to Teutonic disco territory. Our journey closes with Part 2 of the terrific “You’ve Got The Power”, providing the perfect “end titles” to this compilation. Three further minutes of dancefloor euphoria with Miss Su Kramer. Enjoy! If you still can’t get enough of this song after these two parts, check out “Hier Ist Das Leben”, Su’s classy German version of the song - a big favorite of Germany’s gay community. The final words of wisdom belong to Marina recording artist James Kirk: You can make it, if you boogie!


 
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