Why The Hell Haven't You Heard Of
mambo kurt

Cult Messiah?

Not many people (to my knowledge) ever really warmed up to the fundamental existence of German genius - that idiot with the stupid little mustache during WWII spoiling it a bit for the generations to follow. Yet, German technology and eye on quality is a very precise thing indeed. In the Cape many view Germans as sandal- & Panama hat wearing, camera toting tourists. There's much more to it. Great musicians (like
Scorpions, Accept, Tankard) and film-makers (Wim Wenders amoung others) are but a few of the artists never to be ruled out - and then there are the motor vehicles… But, a gem is tucked away in the once wall-divided country, ready to explode forth and dominate the world. Like that baby in Jerusalem, there is a new Messiah ready to free the mortals of this planet. His name is Mambo Kurt.

Unlike the rest of the "artists" out there who don't even blush when it comes to not only re-hashing classics of the past, but blatantly pillaging chunks of riffs, hooks & choruses from the masters to become instant millionaires,
Kurt does it a whole other way. The man plays a Yamaha Electron Organ, a D85 to be precise - you know, similar to the kind populating many living room corners across South Africa (and the world), especially during the 70's. Decked out in beige suit, mustard shirt, tie and cheesy orange tinted Blu Blocker shades, the man is a unique glimpse of retro in this already rehashed garbage pit of regurgitation. I will even be so bold as to say that Mambo Kurt put the Z back into Cheese.

Mambo Kurt phenomenon started when the maestro arrived at MSV Duisburg (soccer club), crashing their summer party with a 601Deutch Mark outfit. One Mark for the shades and the rest for the used organ. In his home country, Mambo Kurt is everything but a passing fad. Verona Feldbusch who helms the "Verona's World Show" made him her court musician while the music video channel Viva 2 cut down screenings of his songs: the Mambo Kurt versions being cooler than the originals! His stature is growing worldwide as (interestingly enough) his fans include many heavyweights such as Rammstein, Machine Head and Biohazard. Is there truth in the Huey Lewis rumour "hip to be square"? Perhaps, but it all boils down to personal reaction - you hear, you like, you can't stop listening.

Kurt's whole angle is not only to convert existent songs into loungy, chee-zee beauts played to preset Bossa Nova or Mambo beats so crappy it's delicious, he also does it with such a warped sense of humour it's hard to hate him when he rips off your favourite band. But, he does respect each tune he tackles and feels he cannot do a rendition of something he doesn't love himself. The most unlikely cover versions become re-discovered classics, Mambo's way. On his latest release, "Back In Beige - The Return of Alleinunterhalter Vol. II", the man takes on such greats as
AC/DC's Highway To Hell, I Was Made For Lovin' You by Kiss, Status Quo's Rockin' All Over The World, You're My Heart You're My Soul by Modern Talking and His Infernal Majesty's Join Me (In Death). Pop, rock, goth, each taking on a whole new dimension that is hypnotically irresistible, complete with shitty electronic cowbell and less than perfect vocals, diction & pronunciation. Kurt admits he can't really sing, but then I've always been a sucker for perfect imperfection.
And then there are the medleys. My word. The
Bloodhound Gang medley includes Firewater Burn, The Bad Touch and Along Comes Mary - great. The Schnulzen Medley combines such tear-jerkers as Nothing Compares 2 U, Candle In The Wind and Titanic's My Heart Will Go On - phenomenal. A Rap Medley with Busta Rhymes & Run DMC - rip-roaring. Then there is the ultimate: The Metall Medley with tracks by Type O Negative, Danzig and Metallica getting the MK treatment - mind-blowing I tell you. In between you get German tracks ranging from super-cheese to Oompha-style drinking songs or just plain bizarre (like Die Flut featuring Tom Angelripper from the Gerry Death Metal band Sodom!)

Where ten years ago "full" beer bottles were pelted at the man during performances, today roadies must try and prevent hundreds of kids from stage diving at his shows - or as happened recently, an elderly man offering
Kurt 100 Swiss Franks to take a break! Both of these compliments in their own way.

Listening to
Mambo Kurt fills one with the feeling that a revelation is slowly evolving on the wings of our stale and contaminated airwaves, clogged with tripe (and too much hype). He takes what could be deemed sacred, stripping it down to an uncool hip level and in return zipping it upside down, making it so damn groovy you can't help but to listen and freak with enjoyment. As our new cult hero of trash ascends through this mucky atmosphere of complacent rehashed shlock, by embracing it and throwing it back at us with a smiling sauerkraut curveball, this might just be the new truth and liberated way.
Thus, kneel before your new altar: the Yamaha D85 Electron Organ and praise your new God:

- Paul Blom

For Back In Beige CD Review, click here