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Thursday, January 29, 2009


You'd think that the Internet would be able to provide answers to damned near any question the mind could muster, no matter how obscure. To a certain degree I believed that with few reservations, but now I'm on a fact-finding quest and the seemingly limitless plane of cyberspace information is yielding precious little that's of any help. But first let me backtrack a little...

While sitting at my desk at the design ho' house the other morning, I began to tire of the same playlists on my iTunes library and resorted to Amazon's MP3 download library in search of assorted favorites and rarities that would put a smile on my face. After snagging an assortment of tunes I went in search of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite performers, that being "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War" by Nina Hagen, and while there were a shitload of other Nina goodies to be had, that piece from her 1979 UNBEHAGEN album was not among them.

Nina Hagen: unashamedly weirding out the world since the day she was born, and, oh, how I love her.

I've discovered that sometimes a particular song might not show up in a list by the artist in question, so I instead typed in the title and discovered a version by a group called Susi's Schlager Sextett ("schlager" being a blanket term for Teutonic pop music), and damned if it wasn't a sixties-style pop number that's right up my retro alley! I'd kind of figured the Hagen version was a cover because 1) the song is of a whole other musical genus than the stuff Hagen comes up with on her own, especially thirty years ago, so it was a revelation to hear her do a tune that was once so unabashedly "poppy" (Hagen's version differs from much of her catalog by featuring very little of her all-over-the-place vocal gymnastics that range from opera diva-quality arias to King Diamond-like demonic growls that pre-dated King's similar histrionics) and 2) Hagen often does covers, her reworking of the Tubes' "White Punks On Dope" into the apocalyptic "TV Glotzer" being one of my Top 10 favorites recordings of all time. No, seriously.

Nina works it old school.

I downloaded Susi's rendition of "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War" — which is itself a cover; I've also found a version from 1963 by a Rita Pavone and I have no clue if that's the original or not — and then checked out more of the cheery-voiced Susi's offerings, including spirited German-language covers of "My Boy Lollipop" — a song I've heard several great covers of, most prominent of which is Jamaican singer Millie Small's indelible 1964 recording, which leads me to wonder if it's even possible to fuck that song up — and "Lipstick On Your Collar" (or "Lippenstift Am Jacket" in German), and I've listened to the stuff multiple times, shamelessly grooving to what sounds like a swingin' Third Reich surf music party (lots of twangy guitar work here).

But what I wanna know is this: just who the hell were Susi and her Schlager Sextett, and when was this album originally released? If my years of listening to oldies rock can tell me anything, I'd place the album as being from somewhere around 1968-1971, but I can find no info to confirm this assumption and the band looks like an eighties group doing retro, so I'm really at a loss. If there are any readers out there who know anything about this album, I beg of you to write in and school me on as much as there is to Know about Susi and friends. Their stuff would have been right at home in a 1960's Blake Edwards comedy stocked to the rafters with international cast members, and I would have paid money to see a fur coat-clad Elke Sommer lip synch "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War."

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