You know the feeling. You stumble on a local yard / stoop sale that features a lot of tasteless glassware and sweatshirts, ancient kids' toys and one thin box of records seemingly dominated by James Last and Chicago records. That feeling is despair. But you pulled over, so you might as well get your fingers dusty. Then you spot an inexplicable cover featuring the upper quarters of a Gérard Depardieu lookalike being ridden, hobbyhorse-style, by a mostly naked angel-winged nymph. Hope creeps in. You ask how much - the answer: a dime. Turning it over, you spot song titles such as "Leave This Lesbian World", "Don't Know Baby If You Are Safe" and "Hit'em In The Face", mismatched with the frumpiest looking set of anti-rock stars Bavaria could cough up. Yes yes, that despair has now flipped itself into a feeling indescribable yet holy and life-giving. If you know, you know. If you don't, well... it's like I said to Terre T during one of my insufferable attempts to justify my coffee-snobbery: "it's like trying to explain WFMU to your grandmother".
What this thing is is the soundtrack to one of those arty lite-porn German offerings from the late-60's (1969, precisely), written and performed entirely by the band IMPROVED SOUND Ltd. The title is "Engelchen macht weiter hoppe-hoppe Reiter" (buy it here). You want the plot? Here's a Google translation, courtesy listener Freddy:
"Gustl seller leads a harmonious marriage with Helene, in which sexual life is not too short. From the time Sexrummel infected, he would like to see a sex party to organize. Because it echoes Mitmacher not a lack of potential, a date for the orgy reported, but since Gustl gets under suspicion, to have smallpox, he must away from the big event. When thinking about his Helene because without him so everything could drive, it packs the jealousy ..."
Jump the flip for mp3s, the full cover (of which the above is a zoom), some links, and a little more info.
OK, here's the thing: the record's not that good. It's inconsistent and largely free of character. But it's got its moments, and one track in particular is stunning. Let's start there:
Hit'em In The Face - wow, where the hell did this come from?? Over-saturated drums & organ, nasty fuzz bass & guitar and Stoogey sax bleats, topped off by what sounds like some insane middle-aged psychiatrist having his first toegasm. "AY AY AY AY AY !!!!" This one's actually long been an 'FMU favorite, since turning up on the excellent "Electrick Loosers" compilation of pre-Krautrock German beat & psych stuff, the cover of which, strangely, also features topless women riding horse toys.
Leave This Lesbian World - this one also shows up on the "Electrick Loosers" comp, and is also most notable for its WTF qualities. Beatle'y backward cymbals accompany a Hammond organ playing Hendrix chords, while the singer halfheartedly intones some weird Omni magazine paranoia.
Get Your Kicks on the Hill - this is my favorite beer-drinking music, so much so that it was the theme to my 2:40 beer-tasting program from last summer. The magic formula here, which all those hideous German beer-drinking collections miss: top off the oom-pah with a lonesome bassoon solo!
Titelmusik "Hoppe-hoppe Reiter" - this is the promising first track, suggesting impending (though unfulfilled) lunacy with its swirly flanged drums and its little kiddie vocal on the chorus. The true tone-setting going on here is, alas, the bland Herb Alpert'y muted trumpets. Good song though.
cover - no complaint here!
IMPROVED SOUND Ltd. actually had quite a career, apparently gaining a bit of notoriety from their 1972 eponymous double LP. You can hear some good songs at youtube, though there's no actual video. The song Johanna is pretty wild. The band ultimately started putting out supposedly limp country-rock records, then changed their name to Condor. I haven't heard any of that stuff. For more info, there's a whole internet out there.