Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Münchener Freiheit

A wise man once said that there is no such thing as better or worse, just different. Of course this person probably made the comment in around 1976, before some of the world's most underrated music was produced and he had time to alter his comment. Whilst Germany is one of the few places in the western world where mullets and large moustaches remain popular (the other being Liverpool), Munich seems to have a fantastic pedigree of music for the masses, unfettered by criticism from spotty music journalists with tight jeans and ridiculously long fringes.

The most prominent of all is Schlager, which can only really be described as cover bands with wide appeal. Some exceptions, such as Wolfgang Petry and Claudia Jung, write their own synthesised, power chord driven songs. They all come out of the woodwork either on Saturday night German TV or during Oktoberfest, when they lead the masses in singalongs of such classics as "Sweet Caroline" or "Hey Jude". Germans, as British readers have probably realised from a childhood of War films, like to speak English in their spare time and much prefer to sing in their favourite language.

Personally, I think the 70s and 80s have provided some of the Germanic speaking nations' best music for the past three centuries at least. In the 1780s Mozart composed 'The Marriage of Figaro' and 'Don Giovanni'. Wagner's Ring Cycle was first performed in its entirety (as Wagner intended) in 1876. Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner wrote some of their defining work in the 1880s and continued into the 1890s.

By the 1980s, German music was once more reaching its centennial peak. In the former DDR rock groups such as Pudhys, Pankow and Karat were breaking down borders through intelligent lyrics that went unnoticed by the Stasi. On the other side of the Wall, bands such as Nena, Modern Talking and Münchener Freiheit were making waves and destroying the Ozone layer with their powerful music and hair spray.

What's that you say? "You cannot compare the majesty of Wolfgang Mozart and Richard Wagner with the synthpop of Münchener Freiheit?!" Well, yes I bloody well can. All three artists were not only writing work for the masses, often disregarded as German (in the wider sense of the word) rubbish by those from other European countries. Just read Mark Twain for a typical English speaking criticism of Wagner. They also proudly and unashamedly express their Zeitgeist, whether it be German nationalism or consumerism, and frankly I would happily sit through a concert from any of the artists I mentioned above with exactly the same respect and awe at their music.

Anyway, I'll come down from the soap box now. Feel free to listen to the following from 1985 if you promise to be open minded and leave your clichés and prejudices at the door.

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