Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spin That 45 - Part 6: Roland Heinrich & Gunter Gabriel

They always say the world gets smaller because of the internet, news spread much faster than they used to and more people than ever have access to all kinds of information. Oh yeah? If that was true, why did it take me almost three years to find out about this 45?
If you're not German you probably don't know any of the two musicians who recorded this 45 together. If you are German you should at least know Gunter Gabriel. It's okay not to know who is Roland Heinrich unless you have an interest in German Psychobilly, Rockin' Blues and Roots-Music. Gabriel, now in his late 60s, started his career in the early 70s with a German version of Bob Dylan's 'Wanted Man'. He was a successful singer/songwriter in the 70s and early 80s, being some kind of German version of a Folk- and Country-singer. He recorded a fair share of Cash songs in his life, all with German lyrics that usually captured the spirit of the original very well. It's said that he was friends with the Man In Black and in 2003 he actually recorded a whole album of songs written or done by Cash in German at the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN. There would be much more to tell about Gabriel but that's not the subject of this post.
Roland Heinrich started his musical journey in the mid 80s being singer and bass-player for Psychobilly band The Swamp Dogs(7" & Mini-LP). When the band split up he formed the traditional Rockabilly outfit The Little Green Men(2 songs on a compilation). They didn't last long as he changed the name back to Swamp Dogs, but this time the music was very different to the original Dogs(Listen to the 'Jump For Joy' Split-LP on Rundell Records). In 1990 he formed Rockin' Blues trio The Cracker Jacks(Two 45s, a 12", one CD, some compilations) who split up at the end of the 90s. In 2004 he released the first record under his birth-name and on his 2005 Bear Family release he changed from singing in English to German. Style wise he plays Roots music today, others might call it Americana or Alternative Country. I think traditional Country would fit as well. Also about Roland more could be said, but not now, not today.
In 2007 these two musicians got together and recorded two Country classics in German. Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues' and the 1949 song 'Riders In The Sky'. Gabriel had recorded a German version of 'Folsom' already in 2003, the German 'Riders' lyrics originate from 1949. That year East-German record company Amiga released the first German 'Riders' version sung by Rita Paul and the Cornell Trio. A West-German version followed the same year sung by Gerhard Wendland. Over the last 60 years many German entertainers and bands recorded the song, the most popular probably being the '62 version by Bruce Low and my favorite one being the one sung by Ronnie.
Both artists share vocals on the songs but Gabriel, being the living legend that he is in Germany,  is still the leading singer. Both voices differ a lot which is nice. Gabriel sounds more rough and low, while Roland's voice in contrast is much higher. It makes me think of 40s Country singers. As Roland was in charge of the recording and production the sound is authentic/old-school/traditional (pick the term you like best), just like I would expect it from him.
Personally I'm not 100% happy with the outcome of the recordings, I think some things should have been done different, but the 45 is one of those 'must haves' anyway. Only 500 copies were pressed, the sleeve looks great and it is a nice oddity. I bet just like me Roland had seen Gabriel on TV when he was a kid and 30 years later he did a record with him.

Buy the record here: CASH

No comments:

Post a Comment