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Archive for September, 2019

Any Major Teenagers (and a teen magazine)

September 12th, 2019 2 comments

Over generations, being a teenager in Germany meant that you were likely to read Bravo magazine — and probably get your sex education from its pages.

At its inception in August 1956, Bravo was a magazine about movie and TV stars. This changed in the 1960s as pop music became mainstream. With its target market being teenagers, much of the focus was on the stars whom that age group, especially girls, loved. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones Herman’s Hermits, David Cassidy, Bay City Rollers, Kajagoogoo and so on.

Existing alongside the teeny heroes were the rock acts liked by boys: Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix, Status Quo and Sweet, etc. And sometimes Bravo was pretty cutting edge, featuring punk before it broke big even in Britain. Johnny Rotten happily gave interviews to Bravo, with surprising sincerity. Even Krautrockers like Can and Amon Düül were featured occasionally.

Most German teenagers’ bedroom walls were decorate with posters from Bravo. Every edition had at least one centre-spread poster, several single-page posters, and often double-sided A2-sized posters. The latter led to the Jimi Hendrix vs Dead End Kids stand-off in my household.

Posters of The Sex Pistols (1976), Nastassja Kinski (1979, in Pop), Herman’s Hermits (1969), and Jimi Hendrix (1977)

 

Bravo was more than popular culture, and in that way it set itself apart from competitors such as the Swiss-German Pop or Rocky. The others had better posters, and more detailed music info (especially Pop, which presented a German “edition” of London’s Melody Maker, which did little to reflect the British version’s content), but Bravo was a lifestyle.

Girls especially loved the photo-stories (which often featured some nudity, presumably to keep the boys interested), and serialised pulp novels, which I never read. And there was no way I was going to follow Bravo’s fashion tips without guaranteeing myself a beating from the local ruffians.

Bravo was often criticised for perpetuating a cult of celebrity in an artificial world of stardom, but that seemed an unfair assessment. If anything, Bravo humanised celebrity by presenting the stars as approachable and sometimes even vulnerable. It caught big names in private moments, with dirty coffee mugs on view where today we might see crystal and gold. At one point, Bravo had the popular schlager singer Chris Roberts ask readers for their advice. More than showing stars living it up at celeb parties, Bravo liked to portray them with their families at home.

Bravo was also relevant, featuring real-life stories of young people having gone wrong or having done wrong done to them. Bravo warned convincingly against drugs, without moralising or patronising; destigmatised young offenders; gave sound travel advice for teenagers setting out on their own; guided graduating pupils in how to make career choices; supported the victims of sexual abuse; offered legal advice; and so on. Bravo was like an older sibling; cool, but wiser.

Bravo’s sex education pages. Left, from September 1977, looks at what happens after holiday loves. Right, from 1984, gives a voice to young women who speak about their first time (Dr Korff tells girls to kick out guys who try to pressure them into having sex)

 

And yet, Bravo was the most-confiscated reading material, in schools and homes. The blame for that resided in the magazine’s very frank discourse about sex, usually accompanied by liberal amounts of nudity to illustrate the sex education. The guardians of morality were alarmed!

Make no mistake: Germany was far more relaxed about nudity than the more repressed Anglophone world. There was nudity on TV, nudity on mainstream magazine covers, nudity in advertising. There’s even an unsexy German compound word for the nudism: Freikörperkultur.

It was probably not so much the illustrations that upset the guardians of morality than the message of sex-ed author Dr Alexander Korff (who was really a team of experts led by a chap called Martin Goldstein, who ran his sex-ed column for 40 years from 1969. The same team under Goldstein handled the also very frank and sensible advice column under the name Dr Jürgen Sommer). Dr Korff taught Germany’s youth that masturbation was fine, homosexuality was fine, having sex for the first time was fine (but only if you are really ready for it), and so on. He also taught that you don’t have to masturbate or have sex, but the conservatives missed those bits.

For many German teenagers, that was all the sex education they received. At school, the mechanics of sex were explained in brutally unerotic technical terms. In Bravo it was explained sensitively in a language young people could understand and apply.

Importantly, Dr Korff encouraged young women to assert their sexual autonomy. In a country where not that long before girls had been indoctrinated to serve as breeding vessels for the Aryan race, that was a big deal indeed.

Covers  from 1959, 1965, 1970, 1979, 1980 and 1983.

 

For music fans, Pop had the better and broader information (plus, as mentioned, better posters on better paper quality), and it had LP reviews, though most of those were badly written and uncritical.

Pop was well-connected, but Bravo’s connections were really impressive. The likes of ABBA had exclusive photo sessions with Bravo, and the band’s friendship with Bravo was probably strengthened in 1977, when Bravo found Annifrid’s long-lost German father and facilitated a reunion. Every year, Bravo had a huge giveaways of items donated by stars, some of them personal items which would now be with a good deal of money.

I read Bravo faithfully for about two years, and more or less frequently for another three. From ages 11 to 16, Bravo was part of my life. And that’s how it was for most German teens. That’s why the Bravo Posters site, with one or two posters from between 1957 and 1986 going up every day, is such good fun. There are also loads of Bravo posters and covers and so on at the Bravo Archiv sites, where one can order complete annual volumes of the magazine in PDF format.

Bravo posters of Sonny & Cher (1966), David Cassidy (1973), Connie Francis (1960), and The Bay City Rollers (1977)

 

And to celebrate Bravo, here’s a mix of songs about teenagers, ranging from the time teenagers were invented in the 1950s into the new millennium.

As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-swooned covers, and the collages above in bigger format. PW in comments.

1. Sweet – Teenage Rampage (1974)
2. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (1978)
3. The Runaways – School Days (1977)
4. Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy (1977)
5. Alice Cooper – Eighteen (1971)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Growin’ Up (live) (1978))
7. Beach Boys – When I Grow Up To Be A Man (1964)
8. Chuck Berry – School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell) (1957)
9. Joe Houston & His Rockets – Teen Age Boogie (1958)
10. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent (1957)
11. Sam Cooke – Teenage Sonata (1961)
12. Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
13. Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (1957)
14. Elton John – I’m Gonna Be A Teenage Idol (1973)
15. Janis Ian – At Seventeen (1980)
16. Neko Case – That Teenage Feeling (2006)
17. Dar Williams – Teenagers, Kick Our Butts (1997)
18. The Who – Baba O’Riley (1971)
19. Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974)
20. Eddie and the Hot Rods – Teenage Depression (1977)
21. Wizzard – Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad) (1973)
22. Ricky Nelson – A Teenager’s Romance (1957)
23. The Big Bopper – Teenage Moon (1958)
24. Gloria Mann – A Teenage Prayer (1955)
25. The Chordettes – Teenage Goodnight (1956)

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In Memoriam – August 2019

September 3rd, 2019 4 comments

Among those we lost in August was Kris Kristofferson’s long time keyboardist, who also wrote a few great songs along the way, the guy who put together the Village People, a pioneering black woman trumpeter, and an actor who put out a couple of records…

The Village Person
The inventor of The Village People has departed for the great discotheque in the sky. Morocco-born French writer, producer and concert promoter Henri Belolo first had success in the 1960s as a producer for acts like Georges Moustaki and F.R. David. He then had success with the disco trio The Ritchie Family, and hit paydirt when he put together The Village People, for whom he produced and co-wrote big hits such as Y.M.C.A., In The Navy, Macho Man, and Go West. Later, Belolo co-wrote and executive produced Eartha Kitt’s HiNRG number Where Is My Man and the early breakdance anthem Street Dance by Break Machine. He also executive produced Patrick Juvet’s disco hit I Love America.

 

KK’s Keyboardist
Keyboardist and songwriter Donnie Fritts got shout-outs on record by two music legends: Kris Kristofferson (on The Pilgrim-Chapter 33) and Tony Joe White (on Pissin’ In The Wind). Fritts played with Kristofferson for four decades, and appeared in three movies starring KK. He co-wrote Kristofferson’s classic Border Lord. Fritts also co-wrote classics such as Breakfast In Bed (for Dusty Springfield; later a regrettable hit for UB 40 and Chrissie Hynde), Choo Choo Train (Box Tops), We Had It All (Dolly Parton and loads others), You’re Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning (Bonnie Koloc; Charlie Rich), and the great murder ballad Rainbow Road, which was first recorded by soul singer Bill Brandon (featured on Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1) and was later covered by many singers, including Joe Simon, Percy Sledge, Steve Goodman, Arthur Alexander, and Joan Baez.

 

The SNL Director
Soul fans from the 1980s might remember Katreese Barnes as half of the brother-sister duo Juicy (I bought the featured track in 1986, and had it on my shortlist for A Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 1). But she became better known as the musical director on Saturday Night Live, winning two Emmys for Justin Timberlake cameos, 2006’s Dick In A Box (with The Lonely Island) and 2010’s compulsively rewatchable I’m Not Gonna Sing Tonight. Barnes died at only 56 of breast cancer.

The Trumpet Pioneer
Jazz was a man’s game when Clora Bryant made her career, and women on the trumpet or behind the drums were very rare. Bryant, whose reputation rests on her trumpeting skills, was a member of the first integrated female jazz ensemble, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, in the mid-1940s. Mentored by Dizzy Gillespie, she backed the likes of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Harry James. In 1951, her The Queens of Swing became the first female jazz band to appear on US television. In 1957 released her only solo album, Gal With A Horn, and after that was a touring musician. That culminated in Mikhail Gorbachev inviting her to become the first woman jazz musician to tour in the Soviet Union in 1989.

 

The Woodstock Vet
Just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, Canned Heart bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor died at 77. Taylor performed with Canned Heat at Monterrey and Woodstock. In 1970, Taylor left Canned Heat to play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and in 1974 joined The Hollywood Fats Band. But he always came back to Canned Heat whenever there was a call for him, touring with the band as recently as 2009-13. He also worked as a session bassist for acts such as The Monkees (including on Last Train To Clarksville and The Monkees Theme), Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, Leo Kottke, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Ry Cooder, JJ Cale, Bruce Cockburn, Buddy Guy, Tracy Chapman, and Tom Waits (on all his 1980s albums).

 

The Easy Rider
And it was during the anniversary of Woodstock that another icon of the counterculture died in actor Peter Fonda. The Easy Rider actor merits inclusion in the music In Memoriam on strength of his two records, in 1967 under his own name (with a Gram Parsons song co-produced by Hugh Masekela!) and a 1977 effort brought out under the moniker Bobby Ogden, his character in the movie Outlaw Blues, and written by Joan Oates (Hall’s sidekick). Fonda isn’t terrible, but it’s safe to say that Fonda’s thespian career represented no substantial loss to the world of music.

 

Ian Gibbons, 67, keyboardist of The Kinks (1979-89), on Aug. 1
The Kinks – Lola (live, 1980)
The Kinks – Don’t Forget To Dance (1983)

Katreese Barnes, 56, soul singer; former SNL musical director, on Aug. 3
Juicy – Beat Street Strut (1984)
Juicy – Sugar Free (1985)
Lonely Island with Justin Timberlake – Dick In A Box (2006)

Damien Lovelock, 65, singer of Australian rock band Celibate Rifles, on Aug. 3
The Celibate Rifles – Sometimes (I Wouldn’t Live Here If You Payed Me) (1984)

Joe Longthorne, 64, English singer and impressionist, on Aug. 3
Joe Longthorne – Hurt (1988)

Willi Tokarev, 84, Russian-US singer-songwriter, on Aug. 4

Bob Wilber, 91, jazz clarinetist and bandleader, on Aug. 4
Bob Wilber and His Wildcats – Willie The Weeper (1947)

Henri Belolo, 82, French producer and songwriter, on Aug. 5
Georges Moustaki – Le Métèque (1969, as producer)
Ritchie Family – American Generation (1978, as co-writer)
Village People – Go West (1979, as co-writer)
Break Machine – Street Dance (1983, as co-writer)

Jimi Hope, 62, Togolese musician, on Aug. 5

Lizzie Grey, 60, hard rock singer, guitarist, songwriter, on Aug. 5
Mötley Crüe- Public Enemy #1 (1981, as co-writer)
Spiders & Snakes – So Far So Good (1993)

Paul Grace, 63, member of Canadian dance collective Boomtang Boys, on Aug. 7
Boomtang – 59 Ways To Funk (2002, as co-producer, co-writer)

David Berman, 52, singer-songwriter of indie band Silver Jews, on Aug. 7
Silver Jews – Random Rules (1998)

Francesca Sundsten, 59, bassist of art-punk band The Beakers, on Aug. 7
The Beakers – Football Season Is In Full Swing (1980)

Nicky Wonder, 59, guitarist of pop band The Wondermints, Brian Wilson, on Aug. 7
The Wondermints – So Nice (2002)

Danny Doyle, 79, Irish folk singer, on Aug. 7
Danny Doyle – The Rare Old Times (1977)

Erling Wicklund, 75, Norwegian jazz trombonist, on Aug. 8

Claudio Taddei, 52, Urugayan Swiss rock singer and artist, on Aug. 9
Claudio Taddei – Estoy Contento, Nena (1995)

Jim Cullum Jr., 77, jazz cornetist, on Aug. 11
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band – Shake That Thing (2007)

DJ Arafat, 33, Ivorian DJ and musician, in motorcycle crash on Aug. 12

Claire Cloninger, 77, Christian contemporary music songwriter, on Aug. 15

Peter Fonda, 79, actor and occasional singer, on Aug. 16
Peter Fonda – November Night (1967)
Bobby Ogden (alias Peter Fonda) – Outlaw Blues (1977)

Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, 77, bassist of Canned Heat, on Aug. 19
The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966, on bass)
Canned Heat – Down In The Gutter But Free (1969, on lead guitar)
Canned Heat – A Change Is Gonna Come (live at Woodstock) (1969)
Tom Waits – Jockey Full Of Bourbon (1985, on double bass)

Fred Rister, 58, French producer, composer, remixer, DJ, on Aug. 20

Timothy Walsh, guitarist of English rock band Northside, announced Aug. 20
Northside – My Rising Star (1990)

Billy Bacon, singer, bassist and songwriter of The Flying Pigs, on Aug. 20
Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs – Una Mas Cerveza (1988)

Celso Piña, 66, Mexican cumbia singer, accordionist, composer, on Aug. 21
Celso Piña – Cumbia Sobre El Río (Suena) (2001)

Hubert ‘Tex’ Arnold, 74, pianist, arranger, music director and composer, on Aug. 22

Clora Bryant, 92, jazz trumpeter, drummer and singer, on Aug. 23
The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm – She’s Crazy With The Heat (1945)
Clora Bryant – This Can’t Be Love (1957)

Anne Grete Preus, 62, Norwegian rock singer, on Aug. 25

Isaac ‘Bro Mnca’ Mtshali, drummer of South African afro-pop band Stimela, on Aug. 25
Stimela – Where Did We Go Wrong (1986)

Neal Casal, 50, guitarist, songwriter, singer (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals), on Aug. 26
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Follow The Lights (2007)
Neal Casal – White Fence Round House (2011)

Donnie Fritts, 76, keyboardist and songwriter, on Aug 27
Dusty Springfield – Breakfast In Bed (1969, as co-writer)
Kris Kristofferson – The Pilgrim Chapter 33 (1971, on keyboard; gets namecheck)
Arthur Alexander – Rainbow Road (1972, as co-writer)
Donnie Fritts – You’re Gonna Love Yourself (In The Morning) (1974)

Paz Undurraga, 89, Chilean singer and composer, on Aug. 28

Nancy Holloway, 86, US-born France-based soul-pop singer and actress, on Aug. 28
Nancy Holloway – T’en vas pas comme ça (1963)

Jimmy Pitman, 72, singer and guitarist with Strawberry Alarm Clock, on Aug. 29
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Good Morning Starshine (1969)

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