2008-08-29

ST42 live in berlin 1979. german punk from the vaults.

dearset: as you might remember: in an earlier post in may 2008 you could hear all that noise that way back then i thought was the only relict of all that noise that happened at an anti-fascist festival in september 1979 in berlin: about an hour of rather early german punk without fear of contacting singersongwriters and avantnoise. but all of a sudden and completely by chance one joost (who was a member of meniscus) supplied me with about two hours of almost complete sets by some of the bands involved. some of these recordings will be released on kraut mask replica exclusively (accompanied by vastely extended notes in german), others will be shared here as well.

today and first of all we shall be listening to ST42 (westgerman edition). only a few months later they transmutated and re-in-carnated as the clox (westgerman edition) and then vanished in the process of growing old. but by chance again i got aware of the fact that their guitar player ralf zeigermann aka the cartoonist was still on the road in the wwweb. a few weeks ago i sent him a link to these recordings and his memories exploded and got loose: his post-fake diary in german is even longer than what you are expected to be reading right here and now translated to english by michael the son of mister zeigermann. the following text and the picture both are featuring from left to right: chris, thomas, renate und ralf.

How can I fail to remember this night of pandemonium in Berlin, that divided and charmless clunk of a city. I had just left The Neat, where I had been a guitarist yet found myself at the receiving end of some irreconcilable creative differences; the origins of which remain a mystery to me, but which were far from rare during these happy yet also rough times, when we found ourselves blessed by the strident tones of the Damned, the Stranglers, Artery, the Vibrators, Wire, S.Y.PH., Charley's Girls, the Feedbacks, the Sex Pistols and, obviously, the Clash.

In any case, I left Neat in the middle of 1978 and formed ST42 in Dortmund alongside Thomas, a roughneck from the north of this gritty, industrial city, as lead singer; Renate on drums; and Chris on the bass. None of us really knew how to play their instruments. Thomas couldn't sing to save his life. But what did it matter.

We played a few gigs in several small to mid-size venues, namely the fabled Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, the Masterpiece in Dortmund, and the Okie Dokie in Neuss. One day, Thomas managed to astound us by announcing that he had arranged for us to play a slot at what he called "some festival" in West Berlin.

Chris had already left the band by that stage, thanks to those irreconcilable creative differences, and so it came that Bernd, who actually played guitar with Clox, jumped in as the bassist. We managed to sneak in a quick rehearsal, decided that Bernd was good enough, and off we went on our merry ways.

The train journey through the Corridor, that no-man's land separating West Berlin from the rest of the apparently free Capitalistic world, was relatively uneventful. Rather disappointingly, in spite of our provocative punk outfits we received no hassle from the ticket inspectors and the customs officials. By the time we reached Kreuzberg we were already in something of an inebriated mood (in those times you still got proper diner wagons), where we were fairly succinctly greeted by Blitz, who, if I recall correctly, played guitar for Berlin-based Katapult. His main job was as an electrician, which I found rather apt.

Blitz accompanied us to the Audimax, which was already bursting at the seams with people, causing ST42 to descend into something resembling a collective panic. There was a real stage. With real people watching. It was almost eerie - when you stood on the stage and looked down, you could be forgiven for having the impression that at least 30.000, nay, 100.000 pairs of rather insane eyes were staring straight back at you. Our drummer immediately had to be sick (albeit, unfortunately, outside of the venue and not on stage, which no doubt would have gives us some considerable plus points with the audience).

We were on at a relatively late stage - from what I can remember, Katapult and Auswurf were the remaining bands on the bill - and we had been granted a dressing room behind the stage where we could further indulge in our collective stage fright. As luck would have it, the very same room doubled as a store room, containing numerous crates of beer to be later sold to the unwashed masses. This transaction was duly thwarted by ST42s attempts (with no little help from a dutch band called Oneway Subway) to empty said crates, the end result being that Thomas and Bernd stumbled onto the stage not only plagued by nerves, but also rather drunk.

And so, late at night, we came, sang and conquered. At least that was our impression.

The next day me and Renate took the train back to Dortmund, while Thomas and Bernd stayed behind to promote all things ST42 on the streets of West Berlin.

A few months later, ST42 fell apart due to - you guessed it - irreconcilable creative differences, only to be resurrected in the early 80s with a marginally different line up and quite possibly better songs. But that's another story, which has no place here.

In any case, after all these years a tape has surfaced, containing the very recording of ST42 playing at the Anti-Fascist Music Festival in West Berlin. From the 10 songs which we played, five appear to have survived in analogue-, and now thankfully in digital form, gracefully preserved for all eternity. I'm rather glad that we weren't completely shite, otherwise this would have all been rather embarassing, but here they are, the 5 said tracks:

1. Technik
One of our rather typical socio-critical/paranoid songs:
Elektroautos im Sauerland
Lightshow in der Saturday Night
Infrarot im Schweinestall
Bauern jetzt mit K-Energie
Technik über Wald und See

2. Speicherbänder
Don't say you didn't see it coming - we warned you almost thirty years ago.

3. Notstand
Once again a vastly political song. MPs im Dunkel Schreie gellen Helme blitzen Polizei in den Gassen Ruft den Notstand aus

4. Crazy George
An english-language song, written by Crazy George himself. George was one of the many British soldiers stationed in Dortmund during the post-war years and was part of a local group of jolly punks. It bears mentioning that Thomas does not sing "He can't do nothing right" in the refrain, but "Winnetou, nass und kalt". Or, sometimes, "Wer kommt hier, nass ich weiss".

5. Auschwitz
Oh dear. The title of the song resulted in the mistaken impression that we might be somewhat to the far right side of the political spectrum. Which rather begs the question why a bunch of Nazis would be playing at an anti-fascist festival, but nevermind.

I've been able to listen to these recordings for the first time in almost three decades and, truth be told, we weren't really all that bad. I would like to sincerely thank Ralf, who sent me the MP3 and will in all likelihood publish it on these very pages; Karin from Abzug; and Joost from Luzibär for passing on the tapes. And, generally, everyone for everything.

Ralf Zeigermann

more than you wanted to know? - nevermind: listen!

|>>: ST42 - live in berlin the 28th of september 1979
(mp3 / 256 kbps / 24 mb / direct download)