Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Music Review: SEINE GROSSE ERFOLGE (1969, Heino)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 42 minutes.

I'm not going to lie to you... this album is exceptionally painful. The songs are about all kinds of stuff like Mexico, the Latin sun, Rio de Janeiro, whiskey, and things of that nature. I kind of envisioned this as a series of Heino reviews, but let me tell you, one just may be enough. The initial premise is enough to carry it pretty far, however: totally creepy deep-voiced German- in tight woolen Mod clothes, and sunglasses that he never takes off- sings fanciful songs about South America. He was frequently accused of designing music expressly for Nazis on the run in Latin America, which kind of makes you feel dirty, since nobody really wants to be in the same target audience as Josef Mengele. Maybe some of his later albums were designed with others in mind, like his tribute to Mother (which would go really well with Mr. T's "Treat Your Mother Right" rap from BE SOMEBODY OR BE SOMEBODY'S FOOL).

The music itself is pretty lackluster, and should be familiar if you've listened to 60's German folk-type albums in the past. Whether it's yodeling, calypso, traditional German folk, or whatever, it always seems like a good idea at the start, like you're going to have a kitschy fun time of it, and then you only make it about two tracks in before it becomes boring. That is the case here as well, and the only one I really analyzed was the title track, "Carumbo, Karacha, ein Whisky." The song is simple. Heino has evidently made some big mistake with a woman named Dolores, things have been ruined, and it seems to be the fault of whisky and gin. It also may have happened in Rio de Janeiro, because it is mentioned as well. It's been a while since I took German, but this seems to be the gist of it. There's even an accompanying music video, but it's not nearly as good as you might imagine.

There's lots of shaky cam, drinking, and Germans, and the Germans just tip their glasses to one another for the duration. It's quite eerie actually, as if these stiff pencil necks, these marionette people, perpetually tipping their glasses to one another in a foreign land, have reduced happiness, fun, even life itself to one banal movement, the tipping of a glass.

-Sean Gill

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