Ute, Ute, what would we do without you (and these songs)?
Sean | LOOK | 09/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is absolutely to DIE for! These songs, as everyone knows, are still very effective today, so it is schocking to think that they were first written in the 1920s and `30s. But when you are supressed (like the Germans were during this time) things come out. The rousing anthems on this album run the gamut from gay pride ("The Lavender Song") to women's rights ("Chuck Out the Men!") and everything in between. There are also wistful, beautiful (yet unsentimental) numbers like "I Don't Know Who I Belong To" and "A Little Yearning," though there is still enough room for sentimental propaganda, like in the very moving "Munchhausen." Ute's duet with herself, "When the Special Girlfriend," a lesbian pride song, is a hoot! Then there are the stinging, biting social commentary songs, like "It's All a Swindle" and "The Smart Set," which is one of the best satirical songs I've ever heard. The funniest song on the album is, without a dought, "Maskulinum-Femininum," which cracks me up every time. Getting these classic songs in English is a real treat, as it helps them speak to a larger (maybe) audience. Thank you, thank you, thank you Ms. Lemper, for this excellent album! The world is a better place because of it!"
These songs have not lost their pertinence or their punch.
Miles D. Moore | Alexandria, VA USA | 07/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ute Lemper, perhaps the pre-eminent European cabaret singer of our day, does a brilliant job putting across these songs. While songs such as "I Am a Vamp" come across as snazzy, funny period pieces, others--"It's All a Swindle," "Chuck Out the Men," "The Lavender Song," and "Munchhausen"--have lyrics which are just as pertinent and biting in Y2K America as they were in 1930 Berlin. (That doesn't speak well for today's society, needless to say.) These songs--and Lemper's performances of them--are like brilliant mirrors held up to reveal the hypocrisy of the Weimar Republic. If you can bear the shock of recognizing yourself in them, this CD is for you."
Superb performances in both languages. Buy it twice!
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Berlin Cabaret Songs' by Ute Lemper are issued as part of London recording company's `Entartete Musik' series or music suppressed by the Third Reich. One of the very best things about this issue is the fact that Ms. Lemper and London have issued the album in two versions. One is in the original German and one is sung entirely in English.
For starters, I strongly suggest you listen to both, but if you simply have no interest in listening to the German version, I will reassure you that the English performance is musically virtually identical to the German. The instrumentals almost sound as if they were done Kareoke style, with Ms. Lemper's English or German mixed in afterwards. I'm almost certain this was not actually done, as the translations probably changed a few things here and there about the meter of the lyrics, but I could find nothing in the instrumental or vocal performances to prefer in one over the other, except for the genuine experience of hearing it the same way as the cabaret audiences in Berlin would hear it.
Ms. Lemper's English interpretations, as they are in all her earlier albums, is impecible. It also seems to be about as accent free as you can imagine. Not only is it free of German inflections, it is free of a British accent as well, so it should sound great to American ears.
The first thing which strikes me about the lyrics of these songs is that to my ear, there is practically nothing which is critical or even satiric of a specific government. There is not even much which is sexually explicit, let alone lewd. Some pieces from Kurt Weill in `Mahagonny' may be more objectionable than most songs in this album. One thing that tells us is exactically how extremely conservative the Nazis were about any art whatsoever. The most strident politically oriented song is in favor of women's rights and makes no mention of the Nazi government or any other political party for that matter.
The only weakness of the album may be that virtually all this material is unfamiliar to the average listener, so we don't have the pleasure of seeing how Ms. Lemper does a new version of, for example, `Bilbao Song' or Jacques Brel's `Amsterdam'. But then, I relish any chance whatsoever to hear Ms. Lemper sing. She is still fresh and free of the kind of syrupy sweetness we get from, for example, Barbra Streisand, these days from her `Guilty Pleasures' album.