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Funky Fräuleins: Female Beat, Groove, Disco, Funk in Germany 1968-1978

(Bureau B; US: 18 Aug 2009; UK: 10 Aug 2009)

Sometimes, the more you look at the big picture, the more everything winds up being the same. Such is the case with Bureau B’s excellent Funky Fräuleins compilation. Though extracted from the German airwaves during the peak of the disco era, these funky, lost nuggets don’t differ much from the mirrorball classics piped through America’s boomboxes during the exact same time frame (save for the language they’re sung in). Take Peggy March’s “Dancin’ Daddy”, for example. Pitched between the retro-soul sounds of the Grease soundtrack and the sleek production of the Andrea True Connection, here’s a track about an uncool dance-floor companion (horribly uncool, in fact) that wouldn’t sound too out of place being played right after a Gloria Gaynor classic in your favorite retro club. Elsewhere, there are keyboard-heavy funk-groove tracks (Heidelinde Weis’ “Hans Emmerich”), mariachi-infected dance-floor numbers (Evelyn Künneke’s “Kikilala Hawaii”), and interstellar wah-guitar workouts (Roberta Kelly’s “Sunburst”). Though these sound like defiantly disposable ‘70s fodder, one track manages to outshine them all: Renate Kern’s stellar horn-filled cover of the 5th Dimension’s “The Age of Aquarius” (or, more accurately, “Der Wassermann”), which captures the exact same vibe of the original while updating the production ever-so slightly, somehow retaining all of its faux-psych flavor even when sung in German. The whole thing comes off like a top-notch Bond theme-song reject (even moreso than Jane Morel’s delightfully innocuous number “Special Agent”). Although nothing on here can be qualified as quintessential, it’s still hard not to get down with a compilation so upbeat, feel-good, trans-global, and—well—just plain funky.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry, and many others. He is a current member of The Recording Academy and resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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