Friday, September 28, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Total Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to our nation's capital. It seems the Antiques Roadshow folks will be in town, and I'm taking my dear friend Senator Larry Craig's autographed Tom of Finland posters over to be appraised. So posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days until we return.

In the meantime, here's a little brain teaser for you all:

Best Pop/Rock Band/Artist Whose Records are in a Language Not Their Own -- Usually (But Not Necessarily) English!!!
(Wow, I think that's the longest headline for one of these things yet).

Okay -- my totally top of my head Top Six.

6. ABBA [Sweden] -- Incomparable pop confections rendered with endearingly goofy accents. (My skinny tie band used to do a killer cover of their SOS -- unaccented, of course).

5. The Outsiders [Holland] -- An amazing band who by rights should be mentioned in the same breath as the Stones or Byrds. Absolutely world class stuff.

4. Los Bravos [Spain] -- Their "Black is Black" sounds just like Gene Pitney -- who knew they were Latins? (Oh wait -- according to Wiki, the lead singer was German. Weirder by the minute).

3. Laibach [Slovenia] -- Politico/conceptual weirdo provocateurs extraordinaire. Their Sympathy for the Devil album consists of seven different deeply distrubing/annoying versions of the Stones song.

2. Magma [France] -- These guys invented their own language for a series of prog-rock concept albums about outer space. Some people actually like them, I'm told, including the always perverse Johnny Rotten.

and last (and obviously) not least --

1. Shocking Blue [Holland]

I really love these guys, and not just because lead singer Mariska Veres (who died last year, alas) had the cuts-like-a-knife vocal moves of Grace Slick as well as a rather smoldering sex appeal (she was a full blooded Gypsy, actually). More important, guitarist/songwriter/producer Robbie van Leeuwen was a gifted pop craftsman with a real ear for the three minute pop single; it's no accident that World's Greatest Rock Critic Greil Marcus was an early fan, as was Kurt Cobain (Nirvana covered SB's "Love Buzz" on their very first album). If you're curious about them, there's a terrific two CD set which collects all their singles (A and B sides) and I highly recommend it.

Incidentally, just about every note they ever recorded is currently available on import CDs -- with the notable exception of their 1973 "Live in Japan" album, which I've been trying to hear now for three decades without success. If any of our Dutch readers cares to burn me a copy, I''ll be their best friend forever.

Anyway -- who's your choice?


Anonymous said...

All I've got:

Junior Senior


And Golden Earring, though they must have sung in Dutch on their earliest releases.

The only others I could think of were those who went back and forth between English and their native language, like Shonen Knife and the legendary Canadian Michel Pagliaro.

Anonymous said...

'EZO' and Loudness, both of Japan. (B-list one hit wonders of the 80's hair band scene)

Scorpions - Germany

Nena - (99 Red Balloons) Germany

Falco - (Der Kommissar) Germany

Accept - (Balls to the Wall) Germany

And, of course, it would be a travesty to leave Celine Dion off this list. Come on, people... Celine Dion!

Oh, and Bob Dylan may be an honorary mention. I'm not sure what his native language is...?

Cleveland Bob said...

My first nomination would be the Ramones. After meeting Dee Dee and Johnny one time, I'm confident that English was not their native tongue.

Seriously though, I'll add a remarkably unknown band who also hail from the Netherlands.

Gruppo Sportivo. They're positively legends in Amsterdam and were very unappreciated here.

David Rasmussen said...

Linda, Linda, Linda is a Japanese movie about a high school aged cover band, starring a Korean named Bae Doona, who sings in Japanese. I love the movie and the title track.

Linda, Linda, Linda starts about one minute in:

Anonymous said...

Well, I know it's a stretch, but we do have “Sie liebt dich” and “Komm gib mir deine Hand” ...

O komm doch, komm zu mir
Du nimmst mir den Verstand
O komm doch, komm zu mir
Komm gib mir deine Hand

Both can be found on YouTube, although I don't know if there are videos of them actually performing these songs.

NYMary said...

Oh, steve, you know I loves me some Couple, from Malaysia. Aidil is a nice guy, too.

Anonymous said...

How 'bout the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" sung by Swede Mikael Rikfors?

Feral said...

I know there were a number of German ProgRock bands that recorded in English. Triumvirat is the first one that comes to mind...

Anonymous said...

Did that scary-looking German dude Heino ever sing in English? We had a shrine to him at my now-defunct Record Shack, but I can't say that I ever actually listened to him.
Eh, I've got nothin'. - Bill Buckner

Anonymous said...

I was going to say Yoko Ono...but nah.

Anonymous said...

Does Sigur Ros count, because they sing in Lovelandish?

The Humanist said...


ms. rosa said...

god help you, bill buckner, for leading me to the temptation of unearthing my heino records.

the answer is yes, heino does in fact, occassionally, sing in english. at least on ...gulp... glory, glory, hallelujah.

Anonymous said...

I damn near forgot one!

Here's the unforgettable Klaus Nomi, who mostly sang in English, including this operatic piece.

steve simels said...

Heino, Klaus Nomi, Focus and the Beatles?

Have I mentioned I love you guys?

MBowen said...

Currently, there's Jens Lekman (Sweden), who writes better lyrics in his second language than most people do in their first. The Radio Dept., also from Sweden, produced a true gem with their album "Lesser Matters", although this year's follow-up, "Pet Grief", didn't match up.

Anonymous said...

There are actually a bunch from Sweden besides ABBA, but the only one that springs to mind right now is Soundtrack of Our Lives.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party, again, but I just remembered the Belgian band Hooverphonic ... saw them at Roseland (?) a few years ago.