Thrift store record shopping is guilty-pleasure record shopping in it’s purest form. One need not feel any embarrassment whatsoever for toting a pile of Styx records to the counter and forking over anywhere from a quarter a piece to a buck and half for Mr. Roboto or Paradise Theatre. That said, some of these ancient artifacts need to be examined in the light of the shining 21st Century, which is why Reglar Wiglar Magazine is proud to bring to you the first installment of "Thrift Store Gold". Enjoy it and get shopping.
THRIFT STORE GOLD #1
"I REMEMBER FALCO"
Einzelhaft (A&M) 1982
Falco may be familiar to those of a certain age who remember being bombarded by “Rock Me Amadeus” circa 1986. As a result of that shelling, we can be forgiven for being a little shell-shocked by his somewhat ridiculous attempt at white boy rap. In the mid 80s, rap music was hardly the commercially or critically accepted force that it is today, and yet here was this Austrian dude with one name “rapping” about Mozart. Like Mozart, Falco was a little ahead of his time, as Rob Van Winkle wouldn’t corner the Anglo-Saxon rap game until four years later. (I put the Beastie Boys in a different category for what should be obvious reasons.)
All that aside, Einzelhaft is Falco’s 1982 debut album. Apparently einzelhaft means “solitary confinement” which could possibly explain the album cover which shows Falco relaxing in a chair in a room illuminated only by the light emanating from a single, high-placed window (leading us to wonder, Who is this mysterious Falco and why is he alone in that room sitting on a chair?). The record starts with “Zuviel Hitze” which is kind of a lackluster way to kick off a record, in my opinion. Maybe the lyrics make up for the mediocrity of the music. Don’t know, don’t speak German, but it is a bit of a let down—not that I had terribly high hopes, mind you. “Der Kommissar” rocks it like Amadeus, of course. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the After the Fire cover version (an early MTV staple and the only U.S. hit for those Brits) but Falco’s original is surely the better of the two. “Siebzehn Jahr” is kind of a groovy rocker featuring a little saxophone interlude, as was fairly common in the 80s before some bands overused it and Clarence Clemmons kinda bludgeoned us in the head with it. “Auf der Flucht”; don’t know what der flucht this one is about but it’s the most New Wavey track on the record with Falco doing his best Andy Partridge (of XTC) imitation. Not bad. A little jazzed-up guitar makes “Hinter Uns Die Sintflut” one of the jazzier numbers—jazzy like your aunt might think your sweater is real “jazzy”. “Nie Mehr Schule” (never more school?) is a beer hall sing-along with a horn section and a rousing chorus where one can imagine large steins of beer being hoisted into the air. I’d like to sing along too, but again, the German thing, don't speak it. “Helden Von Heute” is a straight-up pop tune worthy of radio play in any number of decades. Like the lead off track on the a-side, the title track “Einzelhaft” is the mediocre bookend to the record.
It’s interesting to me that on the album liner notes the “musik” is credited to Robert Ponger with Falco getting credit for just the lyrics. Falco also doesn’t seem to have played any instruments on this record either. No writing or performing credits other than lyrics and vocals for Falco and yet the album was released under "Falco" and not "Falco and Ponger," (which I think has a certain ring to it, by the way). That seems a little fucked, Falco. Anyway, at a buck and a quarter, Einzelhaft, is a decent enough 80s pop record and a minor musical artifact to be worth it at slightly less than twice the price.
On a sad note, Johann (Hans) Hölzel aka Falco, died in a car accident in 1998 at the age of 40—Chris Auman
FOUND: St. Vinny’s on Willy St., Madison, WI