Sprechen Sie Pop?

BB 019CD BB 019CD

The Bureau B label asks, Sprechen Sie Pop?, a compilation presenting artists from other countries who sing in German. These tracks ride between beat, easy listening, chanson and pop that were staples of the 1960s and 1970s, when music hadn't lost its innocence and singers conquered the hearts of their audience with their charming, broken accents. It could hardly have been the melodious sing-song of the German language that had so many foreign vocalists tie their tongues in knots to master the lingo. It was, as always, all about fame and fortune -- at least as far as the West of the country, which was still divided at the time, was concerned. After all, Germany was one of the greatest music markets in the world during those years, and few acts were spared. It's a well-known fact that The Beatles and Elvis recorded the odd German track, and even Johnny Cash, The Temptations and The Beach Boys had to twist their tongues around German words at their record company's behest. The situation in Germany's East was slightly different: the GDR's political leaders were eager to prove to their citizens, who had already been contaminated by the capitalist media, that their socialist allies had a lot to offer in terms of hot beat music. The artists from the Eastern Bloc countries in turn hoped for a chance to make it to the other side of the Iron Curtain during their visits to East Germany (following in the footsteps of Czech crooner Karel Gott). Most of the male and female singers didn't have a clue just what they were singing about in that difficult-to-master tongue. Record companies hired translators, then the lyrics were written out in phonetics, which worked fairly well as a rule, as recordings by Rote Gitarren or Paul Anka prove -- both of whom reportedly didn't speak a word of German. The compilation consciously gets by without established foreign stars such as Howard Carpendale, Roberto Blanco, Gitte and Mireille Matthieu, who were so omnipresent in Germany during their heyday that they were hardly considered "foreigners," their accent being perceived almost as some kind of dialect. Other artists plying their pop-tongue in German include: Katja Holländer, Skalden, Adamo, Sandie Shaw, Juliette Gréco, Graham Bonney, Antoine, Severine, Joe Dassin, Barbara, Kati Kovács, France Gal, Elisa Gabbai, Sue & Sunny, Sylvie Vartan, and Illés.