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German Beer-Drinking Music: A Very Special LPs from the Attic

December 29, 2009

Various Artists – German Beer-Drinking Music (Capitol, 196?)

Welcome to a special, Holiday edition of LPs from the Attic. I hope you are all getting on nicely with your various beliefs, customs, and traditions, such as they may be around this time of year, observing (if you do) the same calendar as the one my culture does. I raise a tall-boy in your honor. Unless that would offend, in which case….Sorry and all that. Respect.

It’s that time of year again: a time for taking stock of oneself, the year’s highs and lows, various accomplishments and failures, and the logistics of that twilighty middle-ground between ambition and complacency.

It’s a time for sober reflection.

And a time for half-sloshed impulsiveness, breaking cleanly from any Ecclesiastical convergences. Like Peter Gabriel in the video for “Sledgehammer,” this is where I come dancing in. Getting you fully up to speed: gongs have been banged. We’re getting it ön, Hofbräuhaus style.

For this edition, we’re going to focus on a “Best of…” that is in keeping with our TBTS Holiday Prime Directive, but with a different kind of slant. Mainly, I won’t be trying to sum up the entire year (or decade) in any way. To make a long story short-ish, the past year was filled with just enough unsavory unpleasantness that I don’t wish to look back much at present, even to accentuate the positive (that feels more like a New Year’s Eve activity anyway). To quote a favorite old Kids in the Hall sketch, “There’s no time like the present; there’s no present like the time.” And, for ole Jay, the optimal present entails the cultivation of an Epicurean amnesia. Or some shit.

So, I’m keeping my “Best of” in the absolute here, the sanguine heart of right now. For me, that means the following: a 24-oz bottle of dark, dark homebrew, a single cigarette pilfered from a pauper, the company of some familiar, erstwhile debauchees, and the apropos LP German Beer-Drinking Music.

My first impression of the record is this: nothing says “let’s party” like sped-up oompah music sung by hearty men who sound like they are “vomiting up white-hot gravel while having a seizure.” Now, before you get your unterkleidungen in an erfassung, let me explain: in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, no disrespect. Being mostly German (with some prominent Native American heritage and general, Heinz-57-mutt Anglo blood in the boozy mix), knowing some basic German language, and having imbibed a fair amount of German beer myself, I got nothin’ but love fo ya, Deutschland. But, that won’t stop my wife from remarking that the language sounds harsh and guttural, no matter how much I protest and make reasonable, measured arguments (about 1 pint per) as to the positive aspects of the softening of the language post-Third-Reich. And, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s still drinking Hasseroder and dancing to the dulcet tones of the be-lederhosened accordionist(s). Gotta tell ya: the ladies also go wild for the zither.

Oh yes, friends and neighbors, this Capitol Records album includes all the hits you crave, from all the hottest names in German bier getrinken musik, from the beer-hall to the beer-garden:

  • Alfons Bauer and His Zither Orchestra (panty-peeler music, to be sure)!
  • Otto Stor and the Comedien Quartett!
  • Fred Rauch!
  • And several more!

Many of the tracks are instrumentals custom-made for either swaying back-and-forth unevenly with your fellow revelers while eyeing the line of women directly across from you with a benevolently lascivious eye, or for swaying back-and-forth unevenly with your fellow revelers while eyeing the line of men directly across from you with malevolently murderous eyes on account of them staring at the line composed of your (prospective) women. At any rate, you know you are doing God’s work, as the saying goes something like “He protects drunks and…,” something something.

Speaking of: the great Somebody in the Sky must be spending too much time in the back offices while the taps run dry because track four, side one, reveals a startling assumption regarding the wet-dry status of what I take to be the Judeo-Christian Afterlife:

Im Himmel Gibt’s Kein Bier – This song is quite deceptive in its sing-along friendliness (and it’s one of few tracks with vocals), given the juxtaposition with the title, which (scarily) translates to “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” Very carnival-marchy and fun otherwise. Some low, bass singing that’s a lark to imitate and good for a larf. Everyone breaks it down for this one. Still, if Heaven ain’t a lot like [the beer aisle at my local Winn] Dixie, then I don’t want to go.

As for the tracks with vocals, does it really matter what they are singing about exactly? Not to us. I’m content to march around in my crimson, crushed-velvet smoking jacket, bellowing out nonsensical syllables with joyous gusto, pretending I’m trying not to choke on scalding marbles while vociferously chastising a VW factory-floor worker for his insouciance.

Really, I should just let the back-cover speak for the album and leave it at that:

The songs need no explanatory notes. All are ideal for beer-drinking moments – or hours.

It must be noted with not one bit of fidelity-snobbery or superfluous curmudgeonry that this is the dirtiest record to ever touch the pristine, brushed-aluminum-and-lead-crystal platter upon which we spin every record rescued from the Attic. This cheerful exception was made under the influence of the holiday spirit(s)–and the hope that the schmutz is the result of lots of ale-drenched partying on the part of its former owner–and is not regretted. After all, I’ve a half-dozen of my comrades dancing, singing, and drinking around me, a half-empty bottle of my own cider in my left hand, and my beautiful wife in the crook of my right arm. No matter if it is one of the best of times in the middle of some of the worst of times, I like the Here and Now as it unfolds before me. I like it very much.

* * *

From everyone here at the LPs from the Attic offices, to you and yours, I hoist my massive, onyx stein and offer a heartfelt toast: to all who are here and to all who are here no longer, and as well to the here and now.


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