Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Day After The Sabbath 149: HALLO Nr. 2 - DDR Rock part 2

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( Also get the previous pt1 from [mf] or [mg] )

Welcome to part 2 of the the somewhat forgotten pysch, prog and hard rock of communist East Germany, as promised when I posted part 1. I will not repeat the introduction to part 1, and the brief account of the struggles of rock bands in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (aka GDR), but you can go back any time and read it, and get the music, in that post from December last year (LINK). Most of the band information I provide here has been paraphrased and abridged from the amazingly comprehensive website, and if you want any more detailed info on any of these acts you will find it all there (link).

I compiled both of these at the same time and decided to split the comps into two posts, for easier digestion. If you felt there were some important names missing from part 1, such as the Klaus Renft Combo or Karat, then this volume completes what I think is all the bands that are worthy of this particular subject, which still bring the required TDATS heaviness with them too!

As with volume 146, this rounds up a large variety of sounds, from the usual period heavy psych, fuzz and hard rock you'd expect, to some more space rock in the final track, and even a hint of disco rock, from Gruppe ,,WIR". Again we have got plenty of super groovy jazz prog, including a brilliant flute rocker from the Ekkehard Sander Septett, a touch of glam from the Angelika Mann & Reinhard Lakomy-Ensemble, and the return of a Hungarian band that was adopted as a favourite in the GDR, witch seems to have become TDATS royalty now, with this fifth appearance on the blog. Another band, Katja & Roman, is from a country outside of Germany. These acts are included as they were adopted in the GDR and had releases unique to the region, sung in German. There were some other East European bands that have appeared in TDATS before, that received similar attention in the GDR at the time, including Poland's Breakout, Czechoslovakia's Blue Effect and Hungary's Skorpió, all three of which appeared way-back in TDATS 41: Eastern Europe special (link), and some other episodes. 

 Of the sixteen tracks here, fourteen are brand-new acts to the blog so I hope this will yet again be a very fresh listen for everyone!


01. Magdeburg - Heisses Land (1975)
                    from album Beatkiste Vol. 4
02. Theo Schumann Combo - Vesuv (1969)
                    from album Theo Schumann Combo
03. Omega - Zerbrechlicher Schwung (1973)
                    from album Hallo Nr. 9 and Das Deutsche Album
04. Katja & Roman - Ich Will Sein Wie Das Meer (1974)
05. Bürkholz-Formation - Sei Kein Vulkan (1973)
                    from album Hallo Nr.10
06. Klaus Renft Combo - Zukunft (1971)
                    from album Beatkiste Vol. 5
07. Babylon - Tschigiten-Legende (1976)
                    from album Beatkiste Vol. 4
08. Horst Krüger-Band - Hab Mir Von Der Tagesreise Manches Mitgebracht (1974)
                    from album Hallo Nr. 1 / 74
09. City - Nur Die Nächte Gehören Uns (1979)
                    from album Der Tatowierte
10. SET - Eisen (1975)
                    from album Hallo Nr. 1 / 75
11. Karat - Ich Lauf Durch Die Stadt (1975)
                    from album Beatkiste Vol. 6
12. Ekkehard Sander-Septett - Kein Märchen (1973)
                    from album Ost-Kraut! Progressives Aus Den DDR-Archiven
13. Panta Rhei - Hier Wie Nebenan (1972)
14. Angelika Mann & Reinhard Lakomy-Ensemble - Ein Irrer Typ (1975)
                    from single & album Hallo Nr. 2 '75
15. Wir - Eisberg (1976)
                    from album Rhythmus '76
16. Günther Fischer-Quintett & Hansi Klemm - Kosmoslied (1978)
                    from album Die Erde Dreht Sich Linksherum


Magdeburg - Heisses Land (1975)
Here’s a doom laden slow-burner from a  band that evolved out of Klosterbrüder, who were in the previous DDR volume (link). After the joint "Fusion" tour of the Klosterbrüder and Stern-Combo Meissen (also on previous volume) in 1975, Lothar Kramer and Jörg Blankenburg left the Magdeburg group Klosterbrüder. The band was under enormous pressure from the GDR authorities, who repeatedly found fault with Klosterbrüder. Shortly after Gisbert Piatkowski joined Klosterbrüder as the new guitarist and Hans-Peter Dohanetz as the new keyboardist to replace the dropouts just mentioned, the group was renamed Magdeburg. Musically, however, there was no change of direction, and they stayed true to hard rock, but also made a brief excursion into disco music ("Funky Dance" and "Come on, and stay with me").

Dohanetz' affiliation with the new formation did not last long and he switched to the group Pilot. Rüdiger "Ritchie" Barton came in for him as the new keyboard player. Magdeburg premiered in a TV show on GDR television. The first time was not easy for the newly founded band, because the old fans from Klosterbrüder times had their problems with the new name and the story behind it. Despite this, the group established itself very quickly. New songs emerged; Band leader Dietrich Kessler and Klaus Weigert were responsible for the compositions. Lyrics came from Ingeburg Branoner, Burkhard Lasch and Jan Witte. The first recordings were made for GDR radio, and in 1976 Magdeburg's first record was released with the single "In Meinem Land".

The band suffered continuous problems with the authorities, which sadly brought them to a quick breakup in 1981, soon after the release of their first full album, these troubles even lead to Dietrich Kessler and Hans-Joachim Kneis going to prison for 18 months!

In 1992 Magdeburg started a comeback and played live again. Since 2000 the band has been active and touring again under their original name Klosterbrüder. The founding members Hans-Joachim Kneis [† 2020] and Hans-Peter Dohanetz [† 2006] have since passed away. This bio can be read in full detail at (link).

Theo Schumann Combo - Vesuv (1969)
Here’s a super groovy instrumental with a ska-like horn section and nice fuzz guitar. Theo Schumann's musical path began with the orchestras of Kurt Hohenberger and Schwarz-Weiss. The Theo Schumann Combo (also Theo Schumann Orchester or later Theo Schumann Band) was founded by Schumann in 1961 and was not only one of the longest-serving groups in the GDR, but also one of the first beat bands in the GDR. The group was given the opportunity to make their first studio productions in early 1964, before other bands were granted this privilege.

Theo Schumann was actually a jazz musician, but he played beat music with his Theo Schumann Combo, which was extremely popular with young people at the time and which also spread quickly in the GDR. As already mentioned, the Theo Schumann Combo was allowed to record their first songs for GDR radio in 1964, so "All The Things You Are", "Karawane", "Hully Gully Party" or "Radebeul West" were some of the songs that were recorded at that time. The combo then had appointments in the studio to record new songs more and more frequently, because just one year later, in July '65, the Theo Schumann Combo produced the song "Sag nie mehr I love you zu mir". This is the German version of the Beatles song "I Should Have Known Better". In addition, the songs "That can't be true", the German version of the Rolling Stones track "The Last Time", and another cover version of a Rolling Stones hit, namely "Satisfaction", were recorded with partial German lyrics. However, the latter song only saw the light of day long after reunification. The reason for this was that the Amiga label decided shortly after the recording that "Satisfaction" should not be released and played on the radio. The Theo Schumann Combo's "Satisfaction" version then disappeared in the basement of the studio building before any of the musicians even heard the finished song. The title was first published in 1995 on the CD "'64 to '69" on the small Grauzone label.

By the time their first LP was released in 1969 ("Theo Schumann Combo", Amiga), the group had released a whopping 11 singles. The LPs "For Young People" (1970) and "Guten Abend, Carolina" (1971) were then released in the space of a year. Apart from the Theo Schumann Combo, only Thomas Natschinski's Group (see v146) had managed to release this large a number of records. In addition, the Theo Schumann Combo, along with the Natschinski group Team 4 , was the only beat band that survived the harsh actions of the GDR authorities against the beat movement. The full band bio can be read at (link).

Omega - Zerbrechlicher Schwung (1973)
Here's a heavy hammond belter from a band that have appeared in the blog four times before, back in vols 2 (link), 22 (link). 41: Eastern Roc (link) and 87: Space Rock (link). Omega was the most successful rock band in Hungarian music history, and one of the longest-serving (if not THE longest-serving) rock band in the country. Musically, the group served a variety of music genres with beat music, symphonic rock, hard rock, progressive rock and influences from many other styles. The last line-up has been active since 1971 with no personnel changes, with the exception of guitarist Tamás Szekeres, who joined Omega in 1989, and Katy Zee (2012). Some of the band have been making music together since 1959, because Omega was formed in 1962 from musicians from the two groups Ciklon (János Kóbor, András Kovacsics, József Laux and István Varsányi) and Próféta (László Benkö and Tamás Künsztler). The young musicians had their first appearance under the name Omega on September 23, 1962 at the Technical University in Budapest. The idea for the band name did not come from one of the musicians, but from the organizer of this first concert, who spontaneously gave the musicians who were undecided about the band name, the name Omega.

Omega's first single was released in 1966. It features a cover of the Stones hit "Paint It Black" and another cover of "Bus Stop" (originally by The Hollies). More singles followed with more cover versions of international hits. With "Nem új a nap alatt semmi", their first original song appeared on single in 1967. In the late 1960s, Omega was discovered at a performance and gained a manager. This manager ensured in 1968 that the band could go on tour in England and got an international record deal with Decca. This made it possible for the musicians to record a complete album in London. There the band performed as Omega Red Star and released in the same year (1968) the "... from Hungary" album, sung entirely in English. In their native Hungary, the record was released in Hungarian in the same year under the name "Trombitás Fredi és a Rettenetes Emberek". The LP reached gold status in Hungary shortly after release. The English record, on the other hand, was not a commercial success at first, but reached gold status there a few years later.

In 1969, attention was first drawn to Omega in Germany. A complete album, "Omega Ensemble Budapest", was released in the GDR. In 1972 another album was released in East Germany, simply titled "Omega". This LP was a kind of coupling with tracks from the first three Omega LPs. During their guest performances in the GDR, where the band played well-attended concerts, the opportunity was taken to produce various Omega titles in German for radio. These productions resulted in titles such as "The Night Road", "Pearls in the Hair", "Unfaithful Friends", "She Calls Every Day" and "Magical White Stone". In the other part of Germany, back in the 70s, there was obviously not that much interest in the band's songs sung in German. Various Omega albums with lyrics sung in English were released here from 1973 onwards. The German producer Peter Hauke became aware of Omega in 1973 and got the band a record deal with the Bacillus Records/Bellaphon label. This was initially only signed for three years, but was extended in 1976 due to good sales figures. In the years that followed, Bacillus Records released the English-language versions of the Omega albums mentioned above. It wasn't just the original tracks with English lyrics, some of the older songs were completely re-recorded for the Western releases. The album "Time Robber" was released in 1977 even before the Hungarian version "Idorabló - Omega 7". Due to the success of their LPs, Omega played numerous concerts in their home country of Hungary and abroad in the '70s. So it was only logical that in 1979 the band's first real live album was released both in Hungary and in Germany under the name "Élo Omega - Kisstadion '79". A year later this record was also released in Japan.

For the 58th year of their existence, the band had finally set their sights on completing a long-awaited new studio album. The musicians used the cancellation of concerts and other performances due to the corona virus in the summer of that year to produce new songs in the studio. Before the album "Testamentum" was released in December 2020, the band had to accept two heavy blows of fate. Within a few days, keyboardist and founding member László Benkő died, followed by the bassist . Both had lost their battles with cancer. For the year 2022, the musicians had already worked hard to think about how to celebrate the band's 60th birthday. In the middle of the planning, Mecky fell ill with the corona virus, the consequences of which he died from on St. Nicholas Day 2021. Very sadly, Omega died with him. The extensive Omega history can be read at (link).

Katja & Roman - Ich Will Sein Wie Das Meer (1974)

Here’s a groovy rocking single with a girl singer. This single was put out by the Amiga label in 1974, and I have been able to find nothing more on Katja Kutchinsky, who was presumably the singer here. The other two names attached, Roman Runowicz & drummer Ireneusz Nowacki, are both well-documented Polish musicians. Runowicz was in Nurt, who featured on Polish TDATS v101 (link) and Nowacki (discogs) played with Runowicz in Romuald I Roman, who also appeared on the Polish volume of TDATS. Another song by Katja & Roman, “S-Bahn Blues”, was put out by Amiga on two of their many compilation albums. Some more brief mentions of the band members can be seen at (link) and (link).

Bürkholz-Formation - Sei Kein Vulkan (1973)

Here’s a jazz-rock progger with great use of hammond and sax. Thomas Bürkholz and Heinz Geisler played together in the early 70s in the band Robbys. Both decided in 1972 to form their own band and make their own music. First-class musicians were sought for this. Bassist Bernd Sarfert and wind players  Wolfgang "Suhle" Zahn (flute, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone), Bernhard Wachsmann (trombone) and Erich Mückenheim (trumpet). After Silvia Kottas became pregnant, she and two of the wind players left the band again. The third, "Suhle" Zahn, stayed on board. In the end, Kottas was replaced by Hans-Jürgen Beyer, who had been Bürkholz and Geisler's preferred choice as singer from the start. Along with him came Michael Heubach from the Klaus Renft Combo, who made his joining the band dependent on Hans-Jürgen Beyers. Bernd Sarfert only stayed with the Bürkholz Formation for a short time and was replaced by Frank Czerny.

Shortly after its founding, the band got its first opportunity to perform in Hoyerswerda. At that time, the group only had three of their own songs in their repertoire, which, moreover, were only improvisations. The band performed with these three songs and a selection of internationally successful covers, such as "Child in Time" by Deep Purple, and brought the hall to a boil. Through their live concerts, but certainly also through the musicians Beyer and Heubach, who had already made a name for themselves in other bands before, the Bürkholz Formation had a loyal fan base within a very short time, who followed the band's concerts throughout Germany.

In the same year, the Bürkholz Formation got the opportunity to record their own songs at the GDR radio station in the studio on Berlin's Nalepastraße. With Luise Mirsch as editor, the group recorded three of their own titles. With "Sei kein Vulkan" a song by the group was released on the 10th edition of the Amiga series "Hallo". Within just a few months, the Bürkholz Formation established itself at the forefront of the GDR rock scene through the aforementioned successful live concerts and media presence on radio and TV. At the beginning of 1973 the band was on a par with already established groups such as the Klaus Renft Combo (coming up next), Electra and Stern-Combo Meissen (both in the previous DDR volume). With the title "Wer bloß ist heute groß" (lyrics by Gerulf Pannach) the band even had a No. 1 hit.

The quick ascent in a very short time was followed by a steep fall. After about a year and a half, the Bürkholz Formation was banned on July 20, 1973. The reason was an open-air concert in Radeberg in June 1973 in front of about 3,000 spectators, to which the band was invited and for which some of the country's cultural leaders had prepared a trap for the group. During the performance, riots broke out due to deliberately provoked power outages and interruptions during the performance. The Bürkholz Formation played their concert to the end and the musicians then left the venue for the hotel. After the band had long since left the concert venue, riots broke out against the security forces. Some concert-goers stormed the stage and damaged the equipment. Although the Bürkholz Formation was demonstrably no longer on site, the incidents were blamed on them. The band got the blame from a culture functionary, who proposed that they take responsibility for the riots, on the proviso that they would be allowed to carry on touring. However, this cultural functionary did not stick to the agreement. As a result, the public prosecutor's office in Leipzig filed an application to revoke the band's permission to play. The Bürkholz Formation never performed under that name again and the musicians were never allowed to play together again.

Wer Bloß Ist Heute Groß? (2021)
So the Bürkholz Formation was banned and the musicians were punished individually. While Heinz Geisler and Thomas Bürkholz were banned from working, Hans-Jürgen Beyer got the chance to switch from rock to pop. He took the opportunity and achieved international success as a pop singer. Shortly afterwards, Michael Heubach founded the Automobil group. An interesting detail: Automobil was supposed to consist of the musicians of the Bürkholz Formation, except that instead of Beyer, the young singer Nina Hagen was supposed to be at the mic. But nothing came of it, and the band around Heubach and Hagen got a completely different lineup, after more harassment by the same cultural functionary who was significantly involved in the ban of the Bürkholz Formation.

On August 7, 2009, the band reunited in Leipzig on the occasion of the concert celebrating Hans-Jürgen Beyer's 60th birthday. For the first time in over 30 years, Beyer played together with Michael Heubach, Frank Czerny, Heinz Geisler and Wolfgang Zahn as Bürkholz Formation. Only Thomas Bürkholz could not appear with his old colleagues that evening due to scheduling reasons. The full un-edited band history can be read at (link).

Klaus Renft Combo - Zukunft (1971)

Here’s another maximum groove piece of jazz prog. The Klaus Renft Combo was founded in 1958 by Klaus Jentzsch in Leipzig. Jentzsch's stage name "Renft" was his mother's maiden name. For a short time in 1962 the Klaus-Renft combo changed their name to The Butlers because they were banned from performing. From 1966 the band was forced to go under the name Ulf Willi Quintett because the name "Klaus Renft" was no longer allowed to appear due to another ban on performing. The ban on the Klaus-Renft Combo was lifted in 1967.

From 1969 there was constant lineup changes and the first original songs were written, which were also recorded on the radio. Kurt Demmler and the singer-songwriter Gerulf Pannach contributed the lyrics. The legendary cast of Renft  (Jentzsch / Caesar / Kuno / Monster / Pjotr / Hohl) was set in 1972. Even before the first record was available, Renft already had a cult following. In 1973 the first LP with the title "Klaus-Renft-Combo" was released. The second LP, released a year later, was released under the abbreviated band name "Renft". After 1974, Renft's relationship with the state authorities deteriorated again. Renft was finally banned in 1975 after the songs "Die Rockballade vom Klein Otto" and "Glaubensfragen" were played in the band's live program. The first song dealt with the subject of people's flight from the republic, the second dealt with the "hot potato" of military service. Between 1975 and the fall of communism, the band no longer existed due to the final ban on September 22nd, 1975.

In 1976, Christian Kunert and Gerulf Pannach were arrested on Berlin's Alexanderplatz and taken to the Stasi prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. The accusation was, among other things, "anti-state agitation". Kunert and Pannach were threatened with up to ten years in prison. In the summer of 1977, after nine months in captivity, Christian Kunert was forced to agree to his deportation to West Germany, as did Pannach a short time later. A few days later both were deported to West Germany. Klaus Renft had emigrated west earlier, where Thomas "Monster" Schoppe eventually ended up. While the former musicians Jochen Hohl and "Cäsar" Peter Gläser continued to make music with Karussell (see v146, the band considered to be the successor to Renft), Pannach and Kunert continued to work in the West as a duo under the name "Pannach & Kunert" (which they had already done in the GDR after Renft was banned). Christian Kunert also founded the Kuno Bänd and was also otherwise musically active.

On October 9, 2007, the street in front of the "Anker" in Leipzig was renamed Renftstraße in memory of the band founder Klaus Renft. With "Abschied und weitergeh'" they released a new studio album in 2008, on which the tragic events of the last few years were also addressed to some extent. In the years that followed, the band played consistently with Delle Kriese on drums, Marcus Schloussen on bass, Pitti Piatkowski on guitar and "Monster" on mic and guitar. A CD with recordings by Renft in this line-up was released in the summer of 2010, the live album "Renft Goes On - Live 2010", which includes a live recordings from 2009. In 2010 Renft was also part of the line-up of the successful project "Ostrock in Klassic". A show was released on DVD. Another personnel change inevitably took place in autumn 2019. After more than 20 years as the band's bassist, Marcus Schloussen died on December 1, 2019 from pneumonia he had suffered as a result of heart surgery. Later, former Stern-Combo, Datzu and Puhdys (appearing twice in TDATS) bassist Peter Rasym took care of bass. In January 2020, Delle Kriese surprisingly left Renft for personal reasons. The full band history can be read at (link).

Babylon - Tschigiten-Legende (1976)

Here’s one of the straight forward harder-rocking tracks in the set, with plenty of galloping metallic swagger. When Victor Heyse, Bernd Bangel and Dieter Wiesjahn left the Peter Holten Sextet (See v146) in 1975, they started their own band. With the aim of realizing their own musical ideas, the trio hired drummer Bernd Schwitzke and keyboarder Harald Wittkowski, who came from the group Joco Dev (v146). They called themselves Babylon and started as a new amateur band.

A year later there were two changes in the positions of drums and keyboard. Wolfgang "Paule" Fuchs from Joco Dev took the place of Schwitzke and Manfred Hennig from the New Generation took the place of Wittkowski. With this line-up, the first original songs were produced with "Gestern kamst du" and "Jeder Abend" at the radio station in the GDR.

Babylon then played two tours in the Soviet Union. The song "Tshigiten-Legende", composed by Dieter Wiesjahn and produced for the radio, became the band's first hit. Shortly thereafter, "Paule" Fuchs and Manfred Hennig left the band and started the group Pond. There they both met again with the keyboarder Harald Wittkowski, who had left Babylon two years before.

The band reformed in 1980 and after various changes in sound and lineup, reached a peak of success. They continued to play until 1989 when they disbanded for good. Dieter Wiesjahn, who played bass in the early years and later switched to guitar, was the only member of Babylon who was there from start to end. In 2009, the 1988 album "Dynamit" was released on CD for the first time. The Amiga record label gave the CD the title "The Greatest Hits" and added eight previously unreleased radio productions to the regular album tracks. See Babylon's full bio at (link).

Horst Krüger-Band - Hab Mir Von Der Tagesreise Manches Mitgebracht (1974)
A long and epic prog track comes next, traversing styles and emotions as the best examples of such songs do! After Horst Krüger completed his apprenticeship as a mason, he embarked on a career as a musician. The first stop was with the Berluc Quartett, in which he initially worked as drummer, and later as bassist. His move to the Klaus Lenz Sextett in 1962 was also a change in musical direction from beat to modern jazz. He took over the position on bass in Lenz, but later also tried his hand at singing. Just one year later he was drafted into military service and during this time he played with the Erich-Weinert-Ensemble, where he worked as a singer for two years. After military service he returned to Klaus Lenz for a short time and went on a big tour with the Lenz Big Band.

In 1968, Krüger founded his first band, the Horst-Krüger-Sextet or the Horst-Krüger-Septet, in which he also played the drums at the beginning. With this group he played German rock music, the arrangements and compositions of which came almost exclusively from himself. In the early years, he and his group produced several titles for GDR radio, and the Amiga label released various singles. After two years as a drummer, Krüger switched to the keyboard in 1970 and Werner Gasch (formerly of Fips Fleischer) was hired as the new drummer. Günter Weber (trombone) joined the band, and the sextet became a septet. With the exception of Horst Krüger and Benno Pennsler, the lineup continued to change frequently.

After Benno Pennsler switched to the Cantus-Chor in 1973, Horst Krüger founded a new band, which from then on operated under the name Horst Krüger-Band. Krüger himself took over the position of bass player and was also some vocals. In Michael Heubach, Bernd Römer, Michael Schwandt, Hans-Jürgen "Gotte" Gottschalk and later also in Tamara Danz, he found first-class musicians who, after their time with the Horst Krüger-Band, would draw attention to themselves musically elsewhere in Silly, Karat (coming up soon) and Lift (v146). Krüger broke up the band in 1976 to concentrate on his work as a composer. As a result, he wrote film music for the "Polizeiruf 110", composed for television ballet and wrote a rock opera with Rosa Laub. Krüger later worked in the studio with many bands including the Wir group, coming up later here. Read more details at (link).

City - Nur Die Nächte Gehören Uns (1979)
Here's three minutes of hard rock n roll to wake you from the dreamy environs of the previous track. City was founded in 1972 by Fritz Puppel (guitar) and Klaus Selmke (drums) in East Berlin.The breakthrough for City came in 1975 with the performance of the song "Am Fenster" at the radio station in the GDR. The song then played all over the radio and although the song hadn't been released on disc yet, clubs around the country were already using it on tape. Only in 1977 did Amiga release a single of "Am Fenster". This gave the song a further boost and the result was top places in the radio charts. In 1977, the song took second place in the GDR radio station's annual rankings and was only pushed to second place by the Puhdys song "Erinnerung". That's remarkable if only because the song wasn't initially intended for  release on vinyl, let alone production in the studio. One year later, the group released the album "Am Fenster", which went well with their hit and was also very successful. The song "Am Fenster" somehow reached Greece, where it also became a hit. The album itself was released there and later went gold in the country.

The band followed up with in 1979 with the LP "Der Tatowierte". Again, this album was released in Greece. In an overall comparison, this album does not count among the band's strongest works - possibly due to its fairly rapid development. As a result, came some personnel changes. With Rüdiger Barton (keyboard) and Gisbert "Pitti" Piatkowski (guitar), two new members came from the group Magdeburg. In this extended formation with six musicians - two of them guitarists - the LP "Dreamer" and the song "Efkaristo", which was jointly written by Joro Gogow and Gisbert Piatkowski, was released in 1980.

The band remained successful through the '80s and into the new millennium. At the end of 2019 founding member and drummer Klaus Selmke became seriously ill and had to undergo treatment. At the beginning of April 2020, the musician reported back to the fans with a video. In May 2020, Selmke died in a Berlin hospital. Without him, planning began for the band's 50th birthday in 2022. A tour with the Berlin Philharmonic was planned. A band tour was also planned as the last tour, and they disbanded after the final concert in December 2022. In the spring of the same year, City's last studio album, "The Last Round", was released. A lot more can be read at (link).

SET - Eisen (1975)
Here's another short rocker, with great guitars and a powerful prog sound, especially in the vocal delivery. SET was founded in 1972 as an amateur band in Leipzig by Lutz Heinrich (g, voc), Helmut Schulze (bass), T. Riehl (keys), Hendrik Kralle (sax, fl) and Jürgen Schachmann (dr). The blacksmith Lutz Heinrich from Gröditz was discovered by "Cäsar" (Renft) and brought to Leipzig, where he quickly got to know the other founding members of SET. When band boss Helmut Schulze had to go into the army at the end of 1972, Bernd Seifert and Hansi Kölling joined in his place. At the beginning of 1973 there were more changes, until the group consisted of Hans Kölling (voc, g, sax), Lutz Heinrich (g, voc), Bernd Seifert (bass), Herbert Schmidt (key, org) and Bernd Haucke. While songs were covered at first, SET started writing their own songs in 1974. Shortly thereafter, the band was able to make its first radio recordings, "Lied für Freunde" and "Eisen" (included here) were created. The latter song ended up on Amiga's  "Hallo 1 / 75" compilation, making it SET's first record release.

SET had their breakthrough at the "Rhythmus '75" festival with the song "Huscha", composed by Lutz Heinrich and texted by Gerhard Fabian. Shortly thereafter, their title "Ich sah ein Mädchen" became a success, which prompted Amiga to release both songs as a single in the same year. Then there was a change in personnel, Herbert Schmidt left the band and Thomas Hoffmann replaced him.

Two more singles were released: "Laß' das, denn ich haß' das" (1977) and "Seit ich Dich kenn" (1978). In 1978 the band became a professional and switched to the professional camp. A year later there were again personnel changes. Thomas Bürkholz, the founder and namesake of the previously-covered Bürkholz Formation, came to SET as a percussionist.

Shortly thereafter, Bernd Haucke, Lutz Heinrich and Bernd Seifert left the band. While Thomas Bürkholz took over the drums position, Lutz Künzel (Tobias Künzel's brother) and Frank Czerny filled the other vacant positions. There were no more releases and things became increasingly quiet around the band. From the mid-1980s, SET did very few live shows and in 1989 they disbanded.

Lutz Heinrich and Bernd Haucke now play with the Leipzig blues rock band Eisenheinrich. Lutz Künzel founded the group Ätännschen in 1994 and later the group The Flaming Rocks together with his daughter Laura. More can be read at (link).

Karat in 1975
Karat - Ich Lauf Durch Die Stadt (1975)
The next track comes storming in like prime Deep Purple, a band that heavy German prog in general seemed to love, and rightly so! Karat was founded in 1975 by Henning Protzmann and Ulrich Pexa. Officially it is said that they emerged from the band Panta Rhei (coming up soon) but it might be more accurate to say Henning left the jazz rock formation consciously in order to be able to break new ground. Herbert Dreilich and Ed Swillms were the last to join later. Protzmann's goal was to make music that appealed to the public more than with Panta Rhei, while still being progressive and technical. The original line-up, which first rehearsed together in the autumn of 1974, included Henning Protzmann and Ulrich Pexa, as well as Hans-Joachim Neumann, Konrad Burkert and Christian Steyer (known to many as the narrator of "Elefant, Tiger & Co", a reality TV show about a working Leipzig Zoo). Ulrich Pexa had the idea of naming the band "Karat".

Steyer left after just a few weeks, because he wanted to focus on acting. To replace Steyer, the group inducted Ulrich "Ed" Swillms, who joined the band together with Herbert Dreilich. Shortly after its formation, in January 1975 Karat had the opportunity to produce four songs for the radio station of the GDR. The songs "Du und ich", "Ich Lauf Durch Die Stadt" (included here), "Leute, welch ein Tag" and "Schwester" were recorded. A month later the band gave their first concert (on February 21, 1975) at the Otto Buchwitz cultural center in Heidenau.

In the first year of its existence, Karat produced more than 10 radio recordings. In 1976 Pexa and Burkert left and were replaced by Bernd Römer and Michael Schwandt. Another year later Hans-Joachim Neumann left the group. From now on, Herbert Dreilich was the sole singer.

With this line-up things continued to improve. Karat won the gold medal at a performance show in 1977 and received the FDJ's art prize for the student concerts it organized. The success continued by winning the Grand Prix at the International Schlager Festival in 1978, where they presented the songs "König der Welt" and "Über Sieben Brücken". Both songs led the GDR annual charts, which meant that Amiga could no longer avoid Karat. The label released the first Karat LP in 1978, which contained a selection of the radio recordings that had been made up to that point. Just one year later, the second LP "Über Sieben Brücken" was released.

Karat has continued as one of Germany's prominent hard rock bands until the present day, with a lot more documented than I can possibly fit in here, you can read it all at (link). Karat also have a current website (link).

Ekkehard Sander-Septett - Kein Märchen (1973)
Here we have the irresistible sound of funky flute and hard prog guitar! I believe this track is a radio recording and is thus-far only available on the recent compilation from Bear Family Records called "Ost-Kraut! Progressives Aus Den DDR-Archiven (1970-1975)".

The Sander Formation was founded in 1969 by Ekkehard Sander in Dresden under the name Ekkehard Sander-Septett. The first line-up also included Udo Jakob, Volkmar Ryssel and Thomas Reuter. All musicians were graduates of the Carl Maria von Weber Music Academy in Dresden.

In the early days, the band mainly played songs by other artists at dance events. The band earned their first money, for example, during the holiday season on the Baltic Sea coast. At the beginning of the '70s the group was already quite well known and from 1970-1971 wind instruments were included in the line-up in order to further develop the sound. During this time, the group also acted as an accompaniment and concert band for the Swedish pop singer Marianne Kock during her tour of the GDR. But time and again they created their own songs, a few of which were produced in the GDR radio studio. In 1972 Amiga released the first single with two of these radio productions, "Alle Wege". Another single record followed in 1973 - both come from the "DT64 Musikstudio" series. While the first record was a single with two tracks by the themselves, the second release was a split single, with Lift.

From 1973 the band changed its name to Sander Formation. In the middle of 1973, the group was able to place itself well ahead in various charts with their song "Kein Märchen" (included here). In 1974 Sander started working with Gerulf Pannach from Renft. He wrote lyrics for four songs for the group, which were radio-produced in April 1974 but unfortunately not released on disc, including the songs "Rück näher heran" and "Sommertraum".

As a result, the band continued to play concerts. There was also another record release: In 1978, the group's third single, "Hier lebe ich mit Dir" (B-side "Girls from Düben"), was released. Although there was certainly enough material available, the only record company in the GDR, Amiga, did not allow Sander Formation to produce their own LP.

In the years that followed, the band changed their "strategy" and increasingly played foreign titles at dance events, mediated by the Dresden Concert and Guest Performance Directorate. In addition, Sander Formation also worked as a studio band for other artists and thus managed to produce around 350 titles that were recorded by DDR radio.

Ekkehard re-formed the group in the mid-1980s. Only he himself remained. From 1989, singer Petra Hennig was the first woman in Sander Formation. The group existed until the mid-90s, but no longer playing their own songs, they accompanied other artists in the studio and on tours, such as Jonny Hill, Andy Borg and Claudia Jung. Read more at (link).

Panta Rhei - Hier Wie Nebenan (1972)
Panta Rhei (translated: everything flows), named after words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, existed for just under four years, and hardly any band split has ever produced such successful off-shoots as this - among other things, Karat and Veronika Fischer & Band. The line-up almost reads like a "Who's Who" of what later became the GDR rock scene. Panta Rhei was founded in April 1971 by singer and guitarist Herbert Dreilich, bassist Henning Protzmann and pianist / cellist Ulrich "Ed" Swillms, who all three had known each other since 1970 from the Berlin live band the Alexanders. Blood Sweat & Tears songs, as well as the three musicians' own songs, shaped the musical profile of the band and in the jazz lyricist Jens Gerlach they found an accomplished writer who understood how to transform the heaviness and harsh sounds of the melodically and rhythmically unconventional works into popular, lyrically political music.

In addition to Herbert Dreilich, it was Veronika Fischer who left her stylistic visiting card with Panta Rhei after taking her first steps as a singer in the Stern-Combo Meißen in 1971. When she left with drummer Frank Hille in 1973 and founded her own band, Panta Rhei came to an end. The wind section had already been reduced earlier and the jazz and soul orientation had proved to be a handicap for the public success. Popular bands like Renft or the Puhdys put on a better show or were simply closer to the tastes of the general public with their songs. Protzmann left the group and began building a new band. After Herbert Dreilich and Ed Swillms also moved there, the former core of Panta Rhei presented itself as the group Karat in February 1975.

In contrast to many other bands from the former GDR, which re-appeared soon after reunification with new records, Panta Rhei did not make a comeback, but co-founder Henning Protzmann started his own new version of Panta Rhei and has been playing live with this band again since 2015. Read the full Panta Rhei history at (link).

Lacky & Lütte

Angelika Mann
Angelika Mann & Reinhard Lakomy-Ensemble - Ein Irrer Typ (1975)
Nearing the end of this set, we have a stomping glam rocker with a charismatic vocal from Berliner Angelika Mann. After attending the Friedrichshain music school, as one of the only female students in her area of study at the time, she became pianist in the Peter Hanisch Combo, a Berlin amateur band that later changed name to Medoc. From there she was in a number of ensemble-type groups, including those of names already mentioned here like Klaus Lenz. In 1973 she joined the Reinhardt Lakomy-Ensemble, which is where this 1975 track is from. From 1976 onward she helmed her own bands such as Angelika Mann & GruppeAngelika Mann & Obelisk, along with many classical, theatrical and acting endeavours up to recent times.

Reinhard Lakomy
Reinhard Lakomy
, from Magdeburg, was one of the most diverse musicians in Germany. From jazz, pop, rock and electronics to music for children, he served several genres. He studied piano and composition in Magdeburg and switched to the music school in Dresden. After being in many different acts, in the early 1970s he started the Lakomy Ensemble, which was also the springboard for Angelika Mann. After three LPs were released by Amiga in the GDR, an LP was released by RCA in the West in 1975. By 1978 Lakomy found further success making records with his wife Monika Ehrhardt, which became some of the GDR's best selling children's music of all time, and Angelika Mann was also involved in those. A lot more detailed history can be read at, on Reinhard (link) & Angelika (link).

Angelika Mann & Reinhard Lakomy-Ensemble

Wir - Eisberg (1976)
The penultimate track here is one of the most different sounding, with a noticeably more modern production style which ends up as a novel hard rock / disco cross-over. After forming in 1972, Wolfgang Ziegler was responsible for the compositions of Wir and Jens Gerlach (Panta Rhei) provided the lyrics. By the time their first album was produced in 1977, Wir had already released a total of six singles on Amiga, and some compilation tracks. One of those compilation tracks in 1976, "Eisberg", is included here. It was later included on the debut album. After a relatively long wait for the band's debut album, the second album was released a year later. It's called "Zeit" and it also includes the big hit "Nach dem Konzert", which was also released as a single. Apart from the GDR, Wir records were also released in the CSSR (Constitution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) and the Federal Republic.

Wir kept changing musically between rock and pop or disco music. Together with the Kreis group, they were among the most successful bands in the GDR, particularly in the pop and disco sectors. Over the years, however, the style changed audibly. In the beginning, Wir released rock songs, but then they switched to disco music and new wave to pure pop music. A harbinger of what was to follow with Ziegler's hit career from the end of the 80s.

The change in the music certainly had something to do with the many changes in personnel, because in all the years of its existence, Wir experienced repeated changes in the line-up. Only band boss and singer Wolfgang Ziegler stayed with the band until it broke up in 1986. They played together with the line-up of Wolfgang Ziegler (vocals, keyboard instruments, guitar), Hartmut Podlech (guitar, backing vocals), Uwe Karsten (bass), Carsten 'beathoven' Mohren (keyboard) and Hans-Joachim Kluge (drums). In 1986 Ziegler left Wir and started a successful solo career. After Ziegler's departure, Wir disbanded. The complete unabridged account of Wir can be read at (link).

Die Erde Dreht Sich Linksherum - 1978
Günther Fischer-Quintett & Hansi Klemm - Kosmoslied (1978)
The haunting electronically infused closer of this set is true space rock; it comes from a 1978 Amiga compilation LP called "Die Erde Dreht Sich Linksherum" that was made in honour of Soyuz 29, a space mission with cosmonauts Siegmund Jähn (the first German in space) and Soviet Valery Bykovsky.

Hansi Klemm became known singing in the Klaus Lenz Big Band in East Berlin. Later he was in FusionMondie and the Modern Soul Band, and back in a newly-formed Klaus Lenz band in the 2010s. You can read more about Hansi at wikipedia (link) and discogs (link).

Günther Fischer
Günther Fischer
was born in Teplitz-Schönau (Czechoslovakia) and later moved to Zwickau (Germany) with his family. As a child and teenager, Fischer received violin and piano lessons. After completing his studies and in addition to his main work as a musician and composer, Günther Fischer became a lecturer in the dance music department (composition and arrangement) in 1972 at the Hanns Eisler Music Academy in Berlin, where he had previously studied.

Fischer first specialised piano, saxophone, flute and clarinet. He founded his first group in 1960, a trio consisting of guitar, bass and accordion. Between 1960 and 1963 Fischer studied music education at the Robert Schumann Conservatory in Zwickau. He continued his studies between 1965 and 1969 at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in East Berlin and added the subjects clarinet, saxophone, composition and arrangement, and conducting. During this time, Fischer played in the Klaus Lenz Band and founded the Günther Fischer Quartet in 1967 together with Reinhard Lakomy (piano), Wolfgang "Zicke" Schneider (drums) and Hans Schätzke (bass), which over time became a quintet (from 1969 with the guitarist Fred Baumert) and sextet (from 1979 with the Hans-Joachim Graswurm on trumpet). 

Die Erde Dreht Sich Linksherum - 1978
(rear side)
The Günther Fischer Quartet produced their first own songs in 1968. In the same year, the titles "Das Schloss" and "Vorspann" were published on an Amiga compilation. Günther Fischer's group played their own songs and over the years accompanied various musicians, including Manfred Krug, Uschi Brüning, Veronika Fischer, Eberhard Büchner and Dagmar Koller, for whom he sometimes also composed. The first completely solo record (without acting as an accompaniment for other performers) was released in 1978 as the LP "Kombination" by the Günther Fischer Quintet.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Günther Fischer composed numerous film scores that were also released on records, such as "Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo" (FRG, 1978) or "Didi und die Rache der Enterbten" (FRG, 1985). The most well-known composition is probably "Solo Sunny". The title is now an evergreen that Fischer performs together with his daughter Laura (vocals) on select occasions, including the "Ostrock in Klassik" festival series. Before the fall of communism in Germany, concert tours took him and his various formations to several European countries and as far as Asia and Africa.

After the fall of the Wall, more compositions followed for theater, TV (e.g. "Unser Lehrer Doktor Specht", "Für alle Fälle Stefani"), film and ballet, including for the Schauspielhaus in Zurich and the Burgtheater in Vienna.

Günther Fischer now lives in the Irish town of Cork and is still active as a musician and composer. In his adopted country of Ireland, he works together with the musician Tom O'Hare, with whom he has already produced and released two albums, which unfortunately are not available in Germany. In recent years, Fischer has also been a guest at the festival series "Ostrock in Klassik" mentioned above, or with the Putensen Beat Ensemble. To this day, Günther Fischer has worked with many well-known artists, including Christine Ufholz, Uschi Brüning, Manfred Krug, Veronika Fischer, the Puhdys and Regine Dobberschütz. More complete information on Fischer can be read at (link).

Thanks for reading!

Related listening:
The Day After The Sabbath 146: HALLO Nr. 1 - DDR Rock part 1 [Rock of Communist Germany]
The Day After The Sabbath 134: Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia special
The Day After The Sabbath 120: Wolf of Iron Jaw [Serbian rock pt1]

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  1. Good to see you are back! I've only just checked in and now have some catching up to do, thanks for all your efforts!