The Foreign Correspondent – Stories About German Rock Music # 3

In the first posts I recommended you some bands which was formed in the era of German punk in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Their musical influence was based on the ideas of punk and new wave. Their greatest achievement was, that could now be sung in German, without having a bad conscience. The band was founded in 1985 by Sven Regener in a time when the so called NDW had passed its zenith and was threatening to be a vacuum of interesting new German music. There was a small band that tried to make a little bit their own music. Influenced by several genres they started to make a kind of melancholic chanson-, pop- and rockmusic with guitar, bass, drums and voice/trumpet.

On their first records the songs were sung in English. First time I recognized Element of Crime was in 1987 when they released their album ‘Try to be Mensch’. I was in my favorite record shop looking through the new entries when I saw a record that cover reminds me on one of my favorite records. (guess you know which one it is). By reading the credits I was astonished, that this was a German band. And much more astonished as I saw that this record was produced by the great John Cale. Thinking that he can’t fail I bought this record and was surprised what great songs they are able to write.

From this time on I followed the band and saw them four or five times live. Wherever I saw them playing they have managed to create an intimate family atmosphere. In the late 1980s they made some less successful experiment of interpreting the songs of Kurt Weil and after a period with only a few income they decided to sing their songs in their mother language. In 1991 they released their first album with full songs in German. It was very successful and I remember that this was the band a lot of people could arrange. There songs turned more and more into an austere and fragile sound with less instruments but setting some highlights with a slide guitar or a trombone. They still very successful in Germany and their last record from 2009 ‘Immer da wo du bist bin ich nie’ (Always there where you are I’m never).

In addition to his band, Sven Regener has turned to writing. He made some novels about living in Berlin in the arty scene during the time when the wall came down. It was amazing because all the people he described could be the ones I knew in this time at my place. It is also a movie movie made based on the novel called ‘Herr Lehmann’. It has also a very good soundtrack with acts like ‘Fat Gadet’ and more.

Element of Crime – Nervous & Blue
Element of Crime – Blaulicht und Zwielicht
Element of Crime – Damals hinterm Mond
Element of Crime – Vier Stunden vor Elbe 1


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