Label: Naïve - NV801911 • Format: CD • Country: France • Genre: Electronic, Latin • Style: Cha-Cha, Merengue, Latin, Electro, Cumbia
The first thing I Just Got Paid - *NSYNC - No Strings Attached of when I heard this album of Latin-style Kraftwerk covers was the forgotten novelty band Dread Zeppelin. Fronted by the profoundly obese Tortelvis, Dread Zeppelin had all the moronic college kids laughing along to their reggaeized Zeppelin-meets-Elvis shtick way back in I can't front: I was one of them.
Instant novelty item. And like the Fart-in-a-Can, the "Damn Pigeons" fake shit-encrusted baseball hat, and Grandma's First Dildo, this sort of Emperor Norton kitsch would, if there were any justice, be sold at Spencer Gifts. It's utterly disposable trash without Michelle - Jack Jones - Our Song shred of artistic merit, an album that winks cheekily while nudging ribs, dying to impress with its cleverness.
For me to encourage the purchase of El Baile Aleman when there's so much great music that will never be heard is downright irresponsible. A crime, even. Schmidt is reportedly hiding from the fascist German music underground in sunny South America Santiago, Chile to be exactmuch as his fellow countryman Adolph Eichmann once hid from the Nuremberg prosecutors.
It's not hard to come up with some arguments Trans Europe Express (Cumbia) - Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto* - El Baile Alemán the idea, but fortunately, Schmidt made some good decisions along the way. The first was choosing to pay homage to Kraftwerk. Their pioneering use of synthesizers, and their role in helping to define machine music is undebatable-- they were great songwriters who created some fantastically catchy melodies.
And their stated affection for Devil & I - The Peelies - Together Forever Beach Boys really shows when you strip songs like "Autobahn" and Trans Europe Express (Cumbia) - Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto* - El Baile Alemán Robots" from their vocoder'd voicings; hearing these songs on El Baile Aleman as sung by Argenis Brito and Jorge Gonzalez reveals just how strong the kraft of the music really was.
Even without the cheese. Schmidt's second masterstroke was in selecting the record's instrumentation. The bulk of the musical background is clattering, danceable Latin percussion, a production decision that translates the original synthesizer arrangements perfectly. The instrumental melodies are primarily handled by vibraphone, and the sound is fleshed out with cowbells, fish, bongos, congas, and the occasional horn or accordion accent.
It's a tasty rhythmic stew that plays up the groove and keeps the party moving, a must for any novelty record. Then there's the fine song selection. Schmidt wisely favors the bigger hits with the most distinctive melodies: "Showroom Dummies," "Trans-Europe Express," "Neon Lights," and "Tour de France" are all highlights.
The puzzling exclusion of "The Model" is a bit of a bummer, partly because it's so catchy and would fit in well, but mostly because it would have been the fifth version of the song I own in addition to Kraftwerk's original, there's the punishing take by Big Black, one by oddball Resident Snakefinger, and a gorgeous chamber translation by the Balanescu Quartet. Skip to content Search query All Results. Pitchfork is the most trusted voice in music. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Open share drawer.
But that's exactly what I'm going to do. Because, goddammit, this album is entertaining.