andrew burke





The Young Gods Play Kurt Weill

Posted on: 2007-09-01

Hooray for the long tail. One of my favourite obscure albums has recently shown up on the iTunes Music Store. The Young Gods are a Swiss industrial/art rock band that started in the late 80s. While most industrial bands were using artificial drums and either electronic sounds or guitars, the Young Gods used a real (and fearsome) drummer, while all of the actual music consists of cleverly looped samples of everything from the Beatles through oompa bands to orchestras - with a focus on loud guitars. The lead singer growls like Tom Waits and belts like Jim Morrison (and they even do Alabama Song just to underline that)- although when he sings in English he ends up sounding distractingly like Jean Chretien.

I spent the fall/winter semester of 1992 in Strasbourg, France, and their album L'eau Rouge was a great relief from all of that insipid Euro-pop that I got on the radio and TV. I later managed to find their album Play Kurt Weill, which made me even happier.

Not only is it sonically fantastic and rocks hard, but it's always a good album to bring out to impress rock snobs: it's late-80s industrial from before it got cool; it's hard rock with sampled classical music but it isn't twee; it's by Kurt Well, a Real Art Composer with, like, scholarly works written about him and stuff; and the songs are from the Weimar era, with all the coolness that implies (Decadant Cabarets! Leftism before Stalin and Che t-shirts!).

The only downside is that the name of the band isn't as fun to pronounce as Eintuerzende Neubauten.

Of the tracks, my favourites are "Mackie Messer", where the hardcore drumming and the samples from Guns 'n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" rescue the song from its insipid lite jazz past; and "Seerauber Jenny," which turns a vicious bit of working-class revenge fantasy into a dark epic.

Here are some less-than-thirty-seconds-so-legally-allowable snippets (note from 2013 - these have been changed to YouTube links instead):

Mackie Messer

Seerauber Jenny

You can find the whole album on iTunes by following this link, although whether it works may depend on how your computer is set up and whether you have iTunes, and possibly if you're in Canada or not. Otherwise, you should be able to find it by searching and browsing around.

Young Gods Play Kurt Weill on iTunes Music Store.

While you're in the iTMS, do a search for "Mackie Messer" and sample all the different versions. "Jochen Kowalski & The Capital Dance Orchestra" makes a nice contrast.

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