Album of the week (September 2, 2019)

Forever Young by Alphaville (Germany)

Forever Young is the debut album released by West German synth-pop/rock group Alphaville on September 27, 1984, by Warner Music Group. The album is Alphaville’s most critically-acclaimed album, and an estimated 2,000,000 copies have been sold. Reviews of the album are generally positive, with one reviewer calling it “a classic synth pop album” and “a wonderfully fun ride from start to finish.” It charted well, hitting the Top 20 in six European countries (and hitting #1 in two of them), but it failed to make an impact on the US charts, faring no better than #180.

The lyrics of Summer in Berlin may contain a subtle reference to the 1953 East Germany uprising that started on June 17th.

Album of the week (August 10, 2019)

Nouveau Flamenco by Ottmar Liebert (Germany/Spain)

Ottmar Liebert’s most famous album gave a new genre its title, and the New Age market a new champion. From the liner notes:

Nouveau Flamenco represents a spirited new sound emanating from Santa Fe. Its magic blends the heart and soul of the Spanish gypsy guitar with a contemporary groove, a sound mastered by Ottmar Liebert. Liebert's classical guitar training is flavored by jazz and pop influences, and his music expresses what is inseparably universal and deeply personal. The ancient dramas of sorrow and joy are released and artfully transformed for the listener of today. Nouveau Flamenco is truly acoustic poetry with elegance and passion.

Album of the week (June 30, 2019)

Phantom Songs by 17 Hippies (Germany)

The review below is by The Guardian UK

A sophisticated, quirky band from Berlin who sing in German, French and English, 17 Hippies have spent 16 years developing an unlikely style that mixes French chanson and German cabaret with Balkan gypsy music and Americana, with a dash of anything from calypso to Middle Eastern styles thrown in. The Hippies are currently a 12-piece band, and they play anything from accordion to brass, violin to ukulele and banjo, sounding at times like a cool European answer to the equally hard-to-categorise Pink Martini.

Like those easy-going American mavericks, they are excellent musicians and have a fine female singer, Kiki Sauer, who is at her best here with the gently edgy Ton Étrangère, which matches chanson with what sounds like the muted backing for a spaghetti western. Elsewhere, singer Dirk Trageser tackles eastern European dance influences on the brass-and-accordion-backed Biese Bouwe; a third vocalist, Christopher Blenkinsop, echoes Leonard Cohen on Across Waters; and there's a jazzy, brass-and-violin reworking of Captain Beefheart's Gimme Dat Harp Boy. A few more songs from Sauer would have been welcome, but this is a brave and entertaining global fusion that deserves international success.