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Any Major Awards 2008

December 30th, 2008 18 comments

Last year I inaugurated the highly prestigious and sought-after The Major Dude Awards, recognising musicians and bloggers for their sterling that year. Alicia Keys” people were so excited, they told DivShare to delete the album track I posted. Oh, the days of innocence when The Man just had links deleted”¦

I”ve already posted my Top 20 albums of the year, so I”ll dump the music section (after all, Dave Grohl never acknowledged winning the Rock Album of 2007 Major Dude award), and concentrate on my fellow bloggers instead. With song dedication, some of which may be obvious, others are inspired by private observation (for example, I discovered one blog onTotally Fuzzy through a post on old German music).

This year, I”ve modified the categories a bit, and skipped the nominations process. To be truthful, I almost didn”t do this awards post because I feel guilty about not mentioning so many of the fine blogs which have provided me with so much enjoyment, entertainment and education. If your blog didn”t win its category, be assured it probably came a close second. I”ve decided to disqualify last year”s winners from consideration; all of them (well, those still active) are still among my favourite reads. And Whiteray from Echoes In The Wind remains something of a legend among music bloggers. The doyen”¦

And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting the first award of the night is recording superstar Barbra Steisand and football legend Pat Crerand.

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Album blogs:
Most album blogs just upload a CD or twelve without comment, and you download it. I have no problem with that; some of these blogs offer extraordinary and tough-to-find material. I am grateful for their existence and the efforts made. Other blogs offer commentary and/or reviews, and that extra input is the difference between a good take-away and a good eatery. The winner then is like a restaurant run by a TV chef (but not that hateful Ramsey guy). It goes the extra mile of offering highly educational mixes with commentary, often presented in form of a series. Almost like a university course.
And the winner is: ZAKKORAMA

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Hans Albers – Auf der Reeperbahn.mp3

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Singles blogs:
Oh, the choices. I said I wasn”t going to single out any particular non-awardee, then made a list of blogs that merit an honorary mention, and then dropped the idea when that list ran to a dozen or so names. I”ll single out Fusion 45 for uploading Rodriguez”s I Wonder especially for me. But the winner merits the award for his astonishingly prolific rate of posts (551 in seven months!) with intelligent commentary, imagination and a wide range of subjects.
And the winner is: SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Sandy Bull – Memphis, Tennessee.mp3

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Comedy blogs:
There aren”t very many of those around, so nominations were limited. But the winner is one of the most impressive blogs in any category, the sort of blog that is manically updated every 12 seconds with material that makes you wonder: where do they get that kind of stuff from? And who listens to that? Well, quite a few people, evidently. I mean, who wouldn’t want to check out the music that goes with the album covers depicted on the many “the worst cover art of all time” websites. This is a blog where the wonderfully bizarre lives.
And the winner is: DR FORREST”S CHEEZE FACTORY

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Mrs Miller – Downtown.mp3

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Music blogs:
This is a deliberately vague category. Here I”d like to honour a blog which provides me with a musical education. Echoes In The Wind, a winner last year, is one such blog, AM Then FM is another (great new post on Bobby Gentry). This year, the gong goes to a quite new blog which is superbly written, highly erudite and features music I often have never even heard of. I am always in awe when I visit. Should you require illustration of just how brilliant the blog is, perhaps this post on the various versions of Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night might help make my case.
And the winner is: THE GENTLEBEAR

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Frank Sinatra & Celeste Holm – Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.mp3

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Mixed media blogs:
Another new category, to cover blogs that post music, but only incidentally. The winner is always among the first blogs I open when I trawl through my bookmarks. As I noted here a few weeks ago, the winning blog also influenced me in a small way. The concept is simple: photographs, mostly of buildings, and a song that in some way relates to the photo. It works beautifully. The photos provide a glimpse of intriguing sights which most of us probably would not even notice, and the songs are selected with care and knowledge from what must be an impressive collection.
And the winner is: ALL EYES AND EARS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Loudon Wainwright III – The Picture.mp3

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Non-MP3 blogs ““ Music:
I was considering sharing this award three-ways. MyHmphs ““ the name is an exasperated play on the title of possibly the worst song ever recorded ““ is well written and presented, offering views which I almost invariably agree with. It”s a nice blog to hang out at. Uncle E is busier, investing much humour in his writing (the fake biographies of rock acts are very good indeed). Both are among my favourite blogs; so much so that when MyHmphs went on a bit of a hiatus, I hassled him to get back to posting. But the winner snags the award for his depth of writing, over a long period of time, with excellent CD reviews and some innovative ideas, such as analyses of big acts” least respected albums.
And the winner is: 3 MINUTES, 49 SECONDS

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Pixies – Where Is My Mind.mp3

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Non-MP3 blogs ““ General:
This year, I spent much time on some fantastic blogs dealing with the US election, and I always get a kick of Stay-At-Home Indie Pop“s all to sporadic posts, and a few other blogs dealing with, well, life and culture. But the best non-music blog takes as its focus a subject dear to my heart: sex. The winning blog discusses the subject from a male point of view. Where many such blogs might go all blokey and investigate such pressing matters such as readers would prefer to shag Jessica Alba or Halle Berry, or how to obtain your partner”s consent to engage in anal sex, the winning entry (dyswidt) takes a much more integrated approach. Subjects range from the art of flirting to frienditis “” when the object of your desire sees you as just a friend (argh!) “” to Nottingham”s Mr Sex”s reviews of sex toys for men, plus a column where women can find out just what the guys are thinking. The blog treats sex with respect, and it does so with a massive dose of sharp humour. Best of all, the comments section is essential reading. I can”t wait for the book of the blog!
And the winner is: TODGER TALK

Performing tonight in honour of the winner is:
Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing (Extended Version).mp3

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And, as last year, a huge, massive round of thanks to the wonderful people of Totally Fuzzy, the most important music-related blog of them all.

Having dished out praise, I want some myself (now, how does one insert an appropriate winking emoticon into a post?). Well, I”d be interested to know from the regular readers of this blog “” all four of them “” what they have enjoyed here this year, where they thought I wasted their time, and where I simply annoyed them. Feedback is always welcome; now seems a good time to solicit it. The comments section is free.

A couple of words on some of the songs: Sandy Bull’s Memphis, Tennessee is a marathon mind-fuck instrumental the recording of which in 1965 might have involved the consumption of mind-altering drugs. Hans Albers’ song is a German classic from the 1930s, pretty much the anthem of German drunkards everywhere (incidentally, English-speakers, Reeperbahn is not pronounced Rieperbahn. Listen to Albers pronounce it). I dont know if Mrs Miller requires introduction. If she does, Downtown is a good place to start. Note the great part when she gets the lyrics in a twist but, flustered or not, troops on like the trooper she was. And the whistling part is one of the most legendary in pop music.

And with that, a Happy New Year to all. May 2009 bring lots of love, happiness, peace and health in the order of your preference.

German hits 1930-42

August 1st, 2007 17 comments

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH NEW MIXES:
www.halfhearteddude.com/2010/05/deutsche_hits_1930-37/
www.halfhearteddude.com/2010/05/germany%e2%80%99s-hitparade-1938-45/

Here is a collection of German hits from 1930-452. It is fascinating stuff, and not only to the German nostalgists. Look at the stars appearing in this collection:

There is the 1936 hit version of “Lili Marleen” by Adolf Hitler’s favourite singer, Lale Andersen (1905-72). “Lili Marleen”, originally composed in 1915 and a hit for Andersen under the title “Lied eines jungen Wachtposten (Lili Marlen)”, was a popular song in World War II across the fronts. At one point, however, the German leadership banned it because it was too morbid. Andersen was used by the Nazi leadership to record English-language “propaganda-jazz”, which would proscribe her post-war activities as an artist for a while. Once her career resumed, she remained a star until shortly before her death.

There is the original version of Marlene Dietrich‘s (1901-92) “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe eingestellt” from Der Blaue Engel (filmed simultaneously as The Blue Angel, 1929), which launched her career internationally. Dietrich’s sister ran a cinema near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, frequented mainly by SS guards. Marlene renounced her sister as a result, yet after the war helped her financially. In post-war West Germany, Dietrich was long regarded by many as a traitor on account of her support for the Allies in WW2. At a 1960 concert in Düsseldorf, an audience member threw an egg at her (in fairness, other audience members gave the offender a beating for his troubles). Dietrich’s last movie appearance was in 1979, in Just A Gigolo, with David Bowie. Maximilian Schell’s 1984 documentary Marlene is worth seeing, if not for the subject matter, then for Schell’s ingenuity in illustrating the recorded interviews with Dietrich after she withdrew permission to be filmed.

There is Pola Negri (1997-1987), the famous femme fatale of the silent movies era and former lover of Rudolfo Valentino and Charlie Chaplin. The Polish-born actress had returned to Europe after her career floundered with the advent of the talkies and after losing a fortune in the Wall Street Crash, acted in a few Joseph Goebbels-commissioned films, then fled Germany as rumours of her part-Jewish ancestry appeared.

There is the magnificent diva Zarah Leander (1907-81), who, with her extravagant gestures and deep voice, was an obvious favourite drag queen character in the West Germany of the ’70s and ’80s. Born in Sweden, Leander’s life would make a great biopic. After breaking through in pre-Anschluss Vienna, she became an instant star in Germany when she moved there in 1936 (becoming a particular favourite of Hitler’s). Leander always claimed to have been apolitical; not everybody was convinced of it.

There is Hans Albers (1891-1960), one of the biggest stars in Nazi Germany but who despised the Nazis. The Nazis forced him to officially split from his half-Jewish girlfriend, Hansi Burg, but he continued to unofficially live with her. In 1939, he arranged for her escape to Switzerland. When she returned to post-war Germany, Albers dropped his girlfriend at the time to reunite with Burg, with whom he lived until his death in 1960. A veteran actor of the silent era, Albers is rightly considered a legend. His hit “Auf Der Reeperbahn Nachts Um Halb Eins” continues to be sung by drunk Germans anywhere.

There is the tragic Joseph Schmidt (1904-42), a Jewish tenor, who was among the first artists to be banned from German radio by the Nazis. A few months after the release of his film Ein Lied geht um die Welt (the title track is featured on this set) in May 1933, Schmidt fled Germany for Vienna, then after the 1938 Anschluß to Belgium, then after its invasion by Germany to France, and following France’s occupation to neutral Switzerland, where he arrived in September 1942. Several escape attempts had weakened Schmidt, leading to his collapse on a Zürich street. He was identified as a Jewish refugee, who in Swiss law were not regarded as political emigrés, and taken to the internment camp Girenbad while his residence application was being processed. There he fell ill, and was treated in a hospital for an inflammation of the throat. Doctors refused to follow up his complaint about chest pains, and Schmidt was returned to Girenbad. Two days later, on November 16, he died of a heart attack. The following day, his approved residence permit arrived.

There is the sextett Comedian Harmonists, which had three Jewish members and sank soon after the Nazis took power. In 1934 the group was prohibited from performing in Germany; after a year of foreign tours the group split in 1936. The three Jewish members emigrated, and formed a band which toured under the same name; the three Aryans formed a sextet called the Meistersextett.

There is actor Heinz Rühmann (1902-94), who remained one of Germany’s biggest stars for close to six decades (and who appeared in the excellent 1930 comedy Die drei von der Tankstelle). Rühmann, reportedly Anne Frank’s favourite actor, was publicly entirely apolitical, but was accused after the war of having divorced his Jewish wife in 1938 so as to protect his career in the Third Reich. However, his next wife (with whom he remained until her death in 1975) had a Jewish grandfather, which caused Rühmann some trouble with the Nazi hierarchy.

There is Paul Hörbiger (1894-1981), an Hungarian-Austrian actor who became a resistance fighter against the Nazis. Arrested by the Nazis in 1945, he was sentenced to death for treason, with the BBC even reporting his death. Hörbiger lived, and enjoyed a long career on film, TV and stage which ended just a year before his death in 1981 at 86. Long revered in Germany and Austria as a grand old gentleman of stage and screen, Hörbiger’s film credits include the classic The Third Man, in which he played Harry Lime”s nameless porter.

There is Johannes Heesters (1903 – ), duetting with Marika Rökk (1913-2004, who was a admirer of Hitler in her day), who is despised in his native Netherlands as a Nazi collaborator. Heesters, who performed for Hitler and in 1941 visited the Dachau concentration camp (apparently to entertain SS guards, which Heesters denies), did not distance himself from the Third Reich hierarchy (as Albers did). Yet, the allies allowed him to continue his career after the war, and “” like many of his colleagues tainted by association with the Third Reich “” enjoyed great popularity in post-war Germany. Heesters is the world’s oldest active entertainer. His career started in 1921, he last appeared in a TV film in 2003.


There is Lilian Harvey (1906-1968), born in London to English and German parents. During WW1, her father worked in Magdeburg, preventing the family from returning to England. Lilian might have become a big British star; instead her career hit the big time in Germany. After a failed attempt at breaking through in Hollywood, she drew the attention of the Gestapo in the ’30s for her refusal to disassociate from her Jewish friends. Based in France after war, she resumed her career in West Germany.

There are Die Goldene Sieben, who were founded in Berlin by the Nazi party to record “German jazz that would conform to the moral requirements of the Third Reich, as opposed to the “decadent” US jazz. However, the rotating members of the band failed to invent German jazz, doing so much of US-style swinging that Goebbels’ ministry disbanded the group after five years in 1939. Likewise, Peter Igelhoff (1904-78) was considered too jazzy, and was prohibited from public performances and banned from radio in 1942. Instead, the entertainer was drafted into the army and sent to the front. He survived.

And there is Richard Tauber (1891-1948), the Austrian tenor who was the subject of Tom Waits’ blues. Tauber’s Jewish father converted to Catholicism, and even hoped Richard would become a priest. Instead, Richard joined the stage, appearing in operas and operettas. Already a big star in Germany, Täuber was badly beaten up by Nazi thugs, presumably because of his Jewish ancestry, and left Germany for Austria. He fled his homeland when Germany annexed it in 1938. He subsequently became a British citizen, and died in London at the age of 57.


Tracklisting:
Comedian Harmonist – Ein Freund, Ein Guter Freund
Comedian Harmonist – Veronika, der Lenz ist da
Marlene Dietrich – Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt
Richard Tauber – Adieu, Mein Kleiner Gardeoffizier
Siegfried Arno – Wenn Die Elisabeth Nicht So Schöne Beine Hätt
Lilian Harvey – Das Gibt’s Nur Einmal
Paul Hörbiger – Das Muß Ein Stück Vom Himmel Sein
Hans Albers – Flieger, Grüß’ Mir Die Sonne
Lilian Harvey – Wir Zahlen Keine Miete Mehr
Comedian Harmonists – Kleiner Mann Was Nun
Joseph Schmidt – Ein Lied Geht Um Die Welt
Die Goldene Sieben – Ich Wollt’ Ich Wär Ein Huhn

Hans Albers – Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb zwei
Pola Negri – Wenn Die Sonne Hinter Den Dächern Versinkt
Heinz Wehner & His Orchestra – Das Fräulein Gerda
Peter Igelhoff – Der Onkel Doktor Hat Gesagt
Rudi Schuricke – O Mia Bella Napoli
Zarah Leander – Kann Denn Liebe Sünde Sein
Hans Albers – Goodbye, Johnny
Heinz Rühmann – Das Kann Doch Einen Seemann Nicht Erschüttern
Lale Andersen – Lili Marleen
Marika R̦kk & Johannes Heester РMusik, Musik, Musik
Ilse Werner – So Wird’s Nie Wieder Sein
Sven Olof Sandberg – Unter Der Roten Laterne Von St Pauli
Zarah Leander – Ich Weiß, Es Wird Einmal Ein Wunder Geschehn