One of my Christmas presents was a copy of Flammende Herzen, a recent vinyl re-issue of Michael Rother’s 1977 solo debut. My kids did really well I think you’ll agree, West German progressive cosmische music being an area of knowledge for them both (with a little help from Santa Krautrock). I’ve written about Flammende Herzen before- five soaring, melodic instrumental songs recorded at Conny Plank’s studio with Rother on guitars, bass, organ, synths and keyboards and Jaki Leibezeit on drums. It’s a wonderful album, Rother playing fluid, free melodies, chiming guitars and toplines. I can’t recommend it enough and the vinyl re-issue sounds really good too.


Since then I’ve bought his third solo album, 1979’s Katzenmusik. On this one Rother, Leibezeit and Plank play fourteen instrumentals, all called Katzenmusik (and then numbered 1 to 14 and split into two suites one on each side of the record). Rother restricts himself to five note recurring melodies on the guitar, intricate and optimistic, self contained themes and tunes. Really lovely stuff. Annoyingly neither album came with a download code and I don’t have a rip of any of Katzenmusik at the moment so I can only offer a Youtube clip.

Now I need to fill in the gap and get Rother’s second solo album, 1978’s Sterntaler. I’m also kicking myself for forgetting to go to see him play when he did a gig at Gorilla a few months ago. Dumbkopf!

Pretenders Of Love

That was a tough week just gone and probably one to come (for various reasons but y’know, onwards and upwards- we still have music to keep us going). Shark Vegas were a Berlin based band, containing Mark Reeder, who was the Factory Records man in Germany. He put together Shark Vegas, and went through some line up changes including a drummer, Tommy Wiedler, who went on to The Bad Seeds. They supported New Order in 1984 and had a song (You Hurt Me) that was produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson (as B Music). Bernard wanted to release as a single and played guitar over the end section. In 1987 a compilation called Young, Popular And Sexy (FAC US 17) was released in the US and Australia. On it was this long forgotten song, a bit of a lost electro-pop classic- yes, there are bits of it where it sounds massively like New Order.

Pretenders Of Love

I don’t have a MP3 of You Hurt Me but here’s the 12″ version from Youtube (FAC 111 and recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in 1984).

Guten Tag

I unfolded myself off the bus, after thirty six hours from Krakow to north west England yesterday. Sleeping sitting up is a skill I’ve not quite got the hang of and my back has suffered. But our school trip to Krakow and Berlin was fantastic, all the moreso because we were in Berlin last Sunday night when Germany won the world cup. The streets of Berlin were flooded with thousands of Germans, most draped in the colours. We’d passed the Brandenberg Gate early on Saturday and had a look at the fan park but decided that keeping sixty-four teenagers safe while watching the final might be tricky. Eventually we all watched it on a big screen in the square outside our hotel and Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station. This ensured a constant flow of fans before and after the match. It was crackers and probably a once in a lifetime experience- watching a country win the world cup in that country’s capital city. It certainly won’t happen as a England fan.

Berlin is an amazing city, one which I want to return to. There’s so much to see and do- in two days we squeezed in sections of wall, Checkpoint Charlie, a trip up the TV tower, Alexanderplatz with its 60s concrete architecture, Sachsenhausen and the Olympic Stadium. Seeing some of the wall was a highlight for me- something that was such a key part of world history and from my lifetime. After Berlin we went to Krakow, which has a beautiful square and buildings, and drank tea (black tea with cold milk, the English way) in Noworolski Cafe, frequented by Lenin in the mid 1910s. And had a couple of Polish beers.

I’ve downloaded a few of the pics off my phone here…

Holger Czukay of Can, was born in Gdansk, Poland and raised in Germany. He has recently remixed some solo tracks from his 1977 album Der Osten Is Rot and issued them on 10″ vinyl through a Berlin based record label, Gronland Records. Click on the link for loads of grooviness. The remixed Sudetenland, with Jah Wobble, Jaki Leibezeit and Conny Plank, is out right now and you can listen to it here.