Thursday, July 19, 2018

Lothar Siems & Walter Quintus - 1977 - Der Fuhrer

Lothar Siems & Walter Quintus 
Der Fuhrer

01. Ouvertüre - The Pact 8:02
02. Führer Wanted 2:05
03. Listen To Me 1:26
04. Here I Am 2:08
05. Magic Man 2:51
06. Look Here 2:04
07. Interview 2:54
08. Beware Of Him 2:45
09. He Can'T Be Bad 1:10
10. King Of The World 3:38
11. What A Man 2:51
12. III. Reich Theme 0:42
13. Burning Of The Books 1:24
14. Brown Clouds 3:41
15. Dying Day 4:07
16. Berlin, Berlin 3:21
17. I'm Alive 4:40
18. Every Morning 3:10
19. Stalingrad 6:22
20. Tingel Tangel 2:19
21. Stalingrad Is Lost 0:42
22. We Shall Win 3:29
23. Total War 3:19
24. The Looking-Glass 3:04
25. Nightmare 4:06
26. Wake Up 2:02
27. Führerbunker 1:12
28. Pied Piper 2:19

Lothar Siems -- vocals, guitar
Walter Quintus -- violin, bass, keyboards
Karl Allaut -- guitar
Adam Askew -- keyboards
Benny Banforf -- bass
Okko Bekker -- percussion
Ian Cussicl -- vocals (various)
Bertie Engles -- drums
Peter French -- vocals (Joseph Gobbels)
Herb Geller -- sax, flute
Jean Jacques Kravetz -- keyboards
Neil Landon -- vocals (Adolf Hitler)
Robert Lanese -- trumpet
Gisela Siems -- lyrics
Ingeborg Thomsen -- vocals (revue girl)
Marti Webb -- vocals (Eva Braun)

A Rock Opera About Der Fuhrer
New York Times, OCT. 13, 1977

Adolf Hitler seems an unlikely candidate to figure in a musical, but two young Hamburg composers have done the unthinkable and made the Nazi leader the star of their new rock opera. Fittingly entitled “Der Filhrer” and designed for eventual stage production, the work has just come out in a tworecord version, produced for the Electrola Company by the composers, Walter Quintus and Lothar Siems, two rock musicians in their late 20's.

Released at a time when neo-Nazi incidents and what appears to be a nostalgic wave of renewed interest in the Hitler era have begun to worry some German politicians, the Hitler opera clearly seeks to debunk the dictator as a drug-ridden demagogue and mass murderer.

“If anything, our work is meant as a warning to young people not to fall for extremism,” Mr. Quintus, at 28 the older of the two musicians, noted in a telephone interview. Reached in his Hamburg home, he said he and Mr. Siems had aimed the musical primarily at British and American audiences, “because we feel there is more interest there.” He said that was why the lyrics, written by Gisela Siems, the younger composer's wife, were in English and why the records were produced with a cast of British and American rock singers. “In Germany,” he said, “the Hitler theme is still under a taboo.”

The rock opera traces Hitler's and Nazi Germany's bloody history from the burning of books to the murdering of Jews and the misery and destruction of war to the ignominious end. The musical opens to the haunting, unholy sounds of an occult seance in which Hitler, Faust-like, enters into a pact with Satan. At the end, to the doomed man's scream of “There, there, over in the corner—it's he, it's he, he's come for me,” the devil returns to take his prize.

Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist, figures as an evil spirit and devil's advocate; Eva Braun, Hitler's wife. as the hapless victim of misled love. One of the recurrent leitmotifs is the yearning of bored, alienated young people for a leader. In one of the early number, called “Fuhrer Wanted,” the crowd breaks into a chant of “how we want a man to lead us out of misery.” During the opera, the disaffected are shown to be mesmerized by Hitler's magic power and his pledges of “law and order” and “work and bread.” The musical ends on a pessimistic note, with a new crying out “for another leading man to tell us how to live and what to do.”

Mr. Siems, who is 27, said the warning was not meant especially for West Germany. “I don't think conditions here are ripe for extremism,” he said. “People are fairly well off and quite content.” However, an anti-Semitic scandal at the officers' training academy of West Germany's armed forces in Munich that rocked the country recently, indicated there was reason for concern. Eleven young officers were suspended from service after it was disclosed they had sung Nazi songs and symbolically burned sheets of paper inscribed with the word “Jew” during a drinking party.

More than one million Germans have gone to see a controversial movie de picting Hitler's career in the last few weeks, as West German magazines and mass-publication newspapers vie to publish new series about Hitler's life and times.

The composers said they felt the socalled “Hitler wave” was artificially engineered by the mass media. However true that may be, Mr. Quintus and Mr. Siems also can expect to profit from the trend, with 20,000 orders in from retailers for the rock album even before it was released. The recording is scheduled to come out in the United States, Britain and other Western countries this year. Rock singers featured in the recording include Neil Landon, an American, in the role of Hitler, with two British singers, Peter French and Marti Webb, as Goebbels and Eva Braun.

This is easily one of the strangest albums in my collection and it's one I was hesitant to list for fear someone might mistake me as some sort of left wing nutcase.   

So what do I know about 1977's "Der Fuhrer (Rock Opera)" ?  German musicians Lothar Siems and Walter Quintus were apparently the brains behind the double album set.  Siems and Quintus' musical partnership stretched back to the mid-1960s including stints in The Chamberlains, The Quintus Quartet, and a pair of early-1970s albums fronting the medieval/progressive influenced band Parzival.  Parzival recorded a pair of albums before calling it quits in 1973.  With that background it sure would be interesting to know how the pair (with an assist from Gisela Siems in the lyrics department), went from recording misdeal influenced tunes to this bizarre concept piece.  Self-produced, the album featured a strange Anglo-German cast including Ian Cussick, Peter French, and Neil Landon.  A 28 tracks, double album set, the plotline was pretty straightforward - tracing the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler.  Condensing  twelve years (1933-1945) into about an hour was itself a pretty impressive feat, but if you believe the hype the recording sessions were surround by lots of weirdness including master tapes picking up weird sounds.  Anyhow, billed as a rock opera, the collection was clearly written with an ear to some sort of stage production.  The songs themselves offered up a mixture of pop and rock pieces (some of the quite good), but much of the set exhibited a distinctive theater feel.  In reviewing the album it was also hard to draw a clear distinction between the music and the story plotline - 'Magic Man' was a perfect case in point.  Musically the song was amazingly catchy sounding like something 10cc might have written, but the lyric's about Hitler's early magnetism on the German psychic made for a real mismatch.  Great song, disturbing lyric ...  A good analogy was The Police song 'Every Breath You Take'.  The track was a major hit when I was in college and I had friends who simply adored the song, not realizing the lyrics detailed the thoughts of a crazed stalker..  Try to remember that when you're humming 'Magic Man' or 'What a Man!'.

Most folks won't care, but the album's also odd from a marketing standpoint.  This is just a guess on my part, but perhaps to less some of the expected flack, or in order to share project costs, the double album set was released as a partnership between Harvest and the EMI-Odeon imprint.  In fact one of the two albums carried the Harvest label while the other reflected an EMI-Odeon label.  Strange ...  Probably not a big surprise, but in spite of it's anti-war plotline, the album was greeted with widespread controversy.  

Not an album you'd want to play every day, but it was certainly different and might well appeal to Alan Parsons Project and Al Stewart fans.  



  2. Pete French is ALWAYS worth a listen. Magical,real rock voice!