50 years of Bläck Fööss – the “naked feet”, what is the literal translation of their band name are a constant in Cologne music, not only in carnival. Multiple songs are closely related to the history, but also to the hearts of their German home town. In order to celebrate the band anniversary, they released the album 5Ö on 6th November 2020, majorly including their greatest songs in new versions.
Bläck Fööss – About The Artists
When the Bläck Fööss have been found in 1970, their members played in several different groups. The six founding members were Thomas “Tommy” Engel, Ernst “Erry” Stiklosa, Günter “Bömmel” Lückerath, Hartmut Priess, Franz Peter Schütten and Dieter “Joko” Jaenisch, who is the only founding member, who already died (in 1998). Stoklose and Lückerath are still band members today and thus did the whole fifty years of band history. They are now accompanied by Mirko Bäumer, Hanz Thodam, Pit Hupperten, Ralph “Gus” Gusovius and Andreas Wegener. During the founding years, Cologne carnival parties often included international songs like Beatles or Kinks tracks – and thus, there was an increasing demand for songs sung in Kölsch, the Cologne-style German dialect.
One of the first songs published was the 1971 Drink doch ene met, which has initially been declined by the record companies (who wanted to have English language songs), but is nowadays one of the biggest songs of the band and about Cologne lifestyle. The band became popular in Cologne carnival as well as in other times of the year and feature a wide range of songs, if you look at the genres. The first album, which made it to the Top 10 in Germany was Links eröm – rächs eröm (“Turn left – turn right”) in 1977. Overall, five album made it, the band overall published 47 albums (studio, live and official best of albums). Some of the songs are covers by original songs. Du … (bes die Stadt) (“You … are the city”, an homage to Cologne), for example is based on the bagpie classic Highland Cathedral.
Bläck Fööss – 5Ö – Track by Track
The album consists of 19 songs and lasts 73 minutes. There is just one new song, 50 Johr. Many of the re-recordings are collaborations with famous Cologne and German music scene musicians.
1. 50 Johr
50 Johr (“50 Years”) is a looking back to 50 years of band history. The only original on the album refers to a lot of big songs of the band, but also to the transformation over time. On the other hand, the chorus is simply giving a true and proud statement:
Fuffzich Johr met Musik еm Bloot
Fuffzich Johr, et deit immer noch joot
All diе Leeder, die de hück noch kenns
Die singe sujar noch de Pänz vun d’r Pänz vun d’r Pänz
(“50 years with music in the blood
50 years – it is still working out well
All the songs you still know
are sung by the kids of the kids of the kids”)
Truly, even after 50 years and all the changes, the Fööss are still a key part of the million people metropolitan city at the River Rhine. Lovely song.
2. Drink doch eine met (feat. Wolfgang Niedecken)
Drink doch eine met (“Have a drink with us”) is one of the most classic Cologne songs of all – describing the Cologne feeling that you are typically not too alone if you are going to a bar. Wolfgang Niedecken, who is famous in all German-speaking countries as head of the Cologne rock band BAP, turns this song into an even more quiet and intimate song with a lot of blues in it. Lovely!
3. Dat Wasser vun Kölle (feat. BeerBitches)
The BeerBitches are a Cologne music trio consisting of Nadine Weyer, Irina Ehlenbeck and Carolin Kebekus, who became massively famous in Germany as a comedian as well. Together with the Bläck Fööss, they transfer Dat Wasser von Kölle (“The Water of Cologne”), one of the biggest Fööss classics into a rhythmic track with a touch of hip hop elements. Already the first two re-recordings of 50 Johr are really promising.
4. Moni hat geweint (feat. Heino)
Heino is a German schlager and traditional folk singer. In recent years, he surprised as a quite decent singer of rock cover version. There are electric guitars in the backing, but overall the song (“Moni has cried”) turns into a quite traditional Heino sound. Well done.
5. Buchping vun Heimwih (feat. Hape Kerkeling)
Hape Kerkeling became famous as a comedian and TV host. He is not too much into the show business any more, but for example wrote books about walking the Camino trail. Hape Kerkeling, who is living in nearby Bonn, is singing in standard German, while Hupperten is using Kölsch / Cologne German. Beautiful recording of Buchping vun Heimwih, which means “Belly aches of homesickness”.
6. Katrin (2020)
The 2020 version of Katrin, 35 years after the original release, transforms into an intimate, even more swing-alike track with big band sounds. So it rather becomes a travel back in time from 1985 than a transformation to the 2020’s. Cool!
7. Usjebomb (feat. Wolfgang Petry)
After Hape Kerkeling, the Black Fööss also re-activate Wolfgang Petry, who is nowadays rather doing publications as Pete Wolf (see his 2084 album review). Usjebomb (“Bombed out”) describes how carnival even survived after the crucial post-WW2 situation.
8. Pütze Hein – A-Cappella (feat. BeerBitches)
Pütze Hein describes the circle of life from the birth of “Hein Pütz” to the birth of the sun. The BeerBitches version here has rather the character of an a capella recording with beat box sounds. Very different from the first BeerBitches collaboration on the album. Great to explore this variety of sounds.
9. Ich han ‘nen Deckel (feat. AnnenMayKantereit)
Cologne band AnnenMayKantereit has been growing a massive international fan base over the last days. The song describes the story of somebody moving from Cologne to Berlin and being homesick. Ich han ‘nen Deckel thereby refers to a traditional way of having dues at your local bar, being written on a beer coaster. The 2020 re-recording has a touch of country music. A very deep and intimate version. Love it!
10. En d’r Weetschaff op d’r Eck (2020)
The second re-recording of a classic, recorded by the band only. En d’r Weetschaff op d’r Eck turns into a rock’n’roll track with a lot of guitar power. Great transformation.
11. Wenn de Sonn schön schingk (feat. Hape Kerkeling)
Wenn de Sonn schön schingk (“When the sun is nicely shining”) with Hape Kerkeling is comparably close to the original – a feelgood summer track which makes you dance. However, the Caribbean touch is just added to the song. Bad luck that we could not dance to this one this year.
12. En minger Bud (feat. Bruno Müller)
En minger Bud (“In my room/flat”) describes the beauty of Cologne, watched from your own home. The 2020 version adds a touch of jazz and swing to the song. Not my favorite version, but well done.
13. Ming eetste Fründin (2020)
The third time the Bläck Fööss do a re-recording on their own. The 2020 song version feels like summer, like Hawaii – and thus definitely leaves a bright smile in my face.
14. Alles für die Liebe (feat. Biggi Wanninger)
While the Bläck Fööss are rather representing traditional carnival in Cologne, Biggi Wanninger is a key head of the alternative carnival in Cologne, as she is organizing the very snappy and satirical Stunksitzung carnival session. Thus, it is quite a symbol for the wide range of carnival that Wanninger is represented in these 50 years review of band history. The song, Alles für die Liebe (“All for love”) is a 1950’s style acoustic recording. Nice.
15. Bye Bye My Love (feat. Howard Carpendale)
The importance and popularity of the Bläck Fööss is most impressively illustrated by this collaboration: South African-origin Howard Carpendale is a huge name in the German schlager scene. Melodically, the version of Bye Bye My Love is comparably close to the original, but Carpendale’s characteristic touch in the vocals is just turning the song to one of the highlights of the album.
16. Frankreich, Frankreich (feat. Tom Gaebel)
Indeed, Frankreich, Frankreich (“France, France”) has been the only nationwide Top 10 single by the Bläck Fööss in their whole band history. With jazz singer Tom Gaebel, the song turns a big band spectacle. Maybe the best song on the album.
17. Unsere Stammbaum (feat. WDR Radio Orchestra)
The 2000 Unsere Stammbaum (“Our Genealogy”) is to me overall the song which best describes Cologne diversity, tolerance and living together. The 2000 original is the first of three bonus tracks, which have been recorded with the WDR (Western Germany / Northrhine-Westfalia) Radio Orchestra (WDR Funkhausorchester). Having this song with a classic symphonic orchestra is simply touching. Tears in my eyes.
18. Schön, dat mer noch zosamme sin (feat. WDR Radio Orchestra)
The second song with the symphonic orchestra, Schön, dat mer noch zosamme sin (“Great that we are still together”) is so intimate and intense, it is simply touching. No chance to dry the tears after Unsere Stammbaum.
19. En unserem Veedel (feat. WDR Radio Orchestra)
The album closes with the song I would name to be the most classic Bläck Fööss one (but you would be also right if you would insist that there are others which are even more classic…). En unserem Veedel describes the community sense within the Cologne boroughs and that people stand together even in tough times. They kept the applause in the recording – and that’s simply well deserved.
Bläck Fööss – 5Ö – Track by Track
Here is the Spotify widget to 5Ö:
Bläck Fööss – 5Ö – My View
You definitely do not need to raise another musical monument for the Bläck Fööss in Cologne – the band is likely the most traditional act of the city, so many songs touch the hearts of the inhabitants anyway. Yet, 5Ö is just another proof that you cannot take away the band from the city. Let’s hope for fifty more years. The songs of the Fööss are the heartbeat of Cologne – and the new versions are just illustrating how good and versatile they are. The album is an 73 minute travel through the band history, but also through the feelings and emotions people (including myself) have towards my home town.
I do not like Best of albums too much – but this one is definitely having a lot of feeling and character by itself. It may simply be because the album is touching my feelings and memories much more than if you come from any other part of the world, but if you have a certain touch for Cologne, this album might be close to be your album of the year. Great one.
Postings about Cologne
Here are all postings about my home town Cologne: