August 31, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 104: Die Dreigoschenoper (Threepenny Opera)

Die Dreigoschenoper vinyl LP album cover sticker 

On this date, August 31, in 1928, Die Dreigoschenoper (Threepenny Opera) premiered in Berlin at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. This is an original cast recording of a performance in 1928 of that production which included Lotte Lenya (Jenny), Erika Helmke (Polly), Willy Trenk-Trebitsch (Macheath), Kurt Gerron (Moritatensänger; Brown), and Erich Ponto (Peachum). Lewis Ruth Band, conducted by Theo Mackeben.   

The album cover is actually completely blank except for a sticker on the front with an image of a portrait by Hans Jürgen Kallmann of Bertolt Brecht. The sticker was mounted side wise and off-center for some reason.    

Die Dreigoschenoper vinyl LP album cover
with sticker of
Bertolt Brecht by Hans Jürgen Kallmann
photo by Styrous®

The back of the album is completely blank.     

Die Dreigoschenoper vinyl LP album back cover
photo by Styrous®

The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) is a "play with music" by Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann, adapted from John Gay's 18th-century English ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera, with music by Kurt Weill and insertion ballads by François Villon and Rudyard Kipling. Although Hauptmann produced 80 to 90 percent of the text, Brecht suppressed this and assumed sole credit, and is usually listed as sole author in printed versions.      


Die Dreigoschenoper (The Threepenny Opera)
German theater poster - 1928

premiere performance playbill 
Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
Berlin, 31 August 1928

In 1931 a film of Die Dreigoschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) was produced. It was directed by G. W. Pabst and produced by Seymour Nebenzal. It starred Rudolf Forster, Margo Lion, Carola Neher, Lotte Lenya and Reinhold Schünzel with the music of Kurt Weill (YouTube link below). 

Die Dreigoschenoper (The Threepenny Opera)
movie poster - 1931

The film is loosely based on the 1928 musical theatre, The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. As was usual in the early sound film era, Pabst also directed a French language version of the film, L'Opéra de quat'sous, with some variation of plot details (the French title literally translates as "the four penny opera"). A planned English version was not made. The two existing versions were released by The Criterion Collection on home video.                

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet (below) photograph
photo by Styrous®

Film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst (right) and actor Albert Préjean (as Mackie Messer) during the filming of L'Opéra de quat'sous (The Threepenny Opera) in 1931.        

Entartete Kunst 

In the thirties, Adolph Hitler opened a Museum of Degenerate Art in Nuremburg. Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) was a term adopted by the Nazi regime in Germany to describe Modern art. Such art was banned on the grounds that it was un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature, and those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions. The collection was of the sane and the insane, the artistic and the politically démodé.     

An entire room was devoted to the music of Kurt Weill, the  main feature was this very recording of Die Dreigoschenoper which was played continually. However, it was removed after it attracted too large an audience.   

Degenerate Art was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.


There is a small pamphlet included with the record; an 8½" x 11" sheet printed on both sides and folded in half so it's final size is 5½" x 8½". Written by Thomas Lowery, it tells the history of the play, the actors, the times in which it was made and the Nazi reaction to it (click on any image to see a larger size for reading).    

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet front
Bertolt Brecht by Hans Jürgen Kallmann
photo by Styrous®

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet interior
photo by Styrous®

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Die Dreigoschenoper pamphlet interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Blitzstein tells the story of his scandalizing his fellow students at Arnold Schoenberg’s Master class at the Berlin Hochschule, when he sat down at the piano and croaked out in bad German and a composers squeal, Mac the Knife and the jealousy duet just as Schoenberg entered the room. He gave this new music the name of misuk because it was different. 

Mac the Knife has become a popular standard recorded by many artists, including a US and UK number one hit for Bobby Darin in 1959.     

The records

The records are still in their original glassine record sleeves.  

photo by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

YouTube link:                 
Die Dreigroschenoper - 1931 movie with subtitles (27 minutes)       
Styrous® ~ Thursday, August 31, 2017          

Max Roach articles/mentions

Max Roach       

Harry Belefonte ~ At the Greek  
Eric Dolphy       
Ella Fitzgerald ~ Queen of Jazz  
Stan Getz ~ Another World     
Gil Mellé ‎– The Andromeda Strain  

Max Roach   
photographer unknown    


Deerhoof articles/mentions

Deerhoof @ the BAM       
Milk Man & Apple O'       
Deerhoof ~ Milk Man CD detail      
detail photo by Styrous®              

August 29, 2017

45 RPMs 19: Leila And The Snakes, Obiko & Kaisik Wong

45 RPM record jacket
cover photo by Eddie Troia
photo of record jacket by Styrous®

Déjà vu has raised it's ubiquitous head and life is coming around full circle for me again. Since the 50's I've always recorded a record I liked on tape so I wouldn't wear out the record. This was the case with this 45 by Leila And The Snakes. I have listened to both songs on it, Rock and Roll Weirdos and Pyramid Power, for decades but did not look at the record jacket after I bought it until I decided to write about it for this blog entry.       

As I was reading the cover to gather information, I discovered Lisa Jear did the makeup for the photo on the cover! So what? Jear was the makeup artist for some of the Sandra Sakata (link below) fashion shows for Obiko (link below) I produced from 1980 to 1997 . . .

45 RPM record jacket detail
cover photo by Eddie Troia
detail photo of record jacket by Styrous®

. . . as well as modeling the designs of Kaisik Wong (link below) who was instrumental in getting me the position to produce those shows.       

Lisa Jear 
Kaisik coat and collar 
photo by Kaisik Wong

Jear also did the makeup for Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, a 1985 film directed by Wayne Wang and starring Laureen Chew, Kim Chew, Victor Wong, Ida F.O Chung, Cora Miao, Amy Hill, and Joan Chen.        


45 RPM record jacket back
photos by Eddie Troia
photo of record jacket by Styrous®

Leila And The Snakes was an American rock group based out of San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s. The lead singer of the group was Jane Dornacker, who went under the name of Leila. Dornacker had previously toured with the group The Tubes. Other members of the group were Pamela Wood on the bass and Scott Free on drums. Wood and Free were later replaced by the brothers Hilary and John Hanes (Stench). Also featured was guitarist Miles Corbin, who went on to form the surf instrumental band the Aqua Velvets. The sons of Wood now play in the group, Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony (link below).          

Also appearing on the two-song 45 RPM referenced below (which was referred to as "The Album" during subsequent live sets) was Pearl E. Gates. She went on to front Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, marry Paul Simonon of The Clash, and sing backup on Sandinista!. Pearl was featured prominently in the Leila live act. Eventually she resigned from the band.               

Dornacker, who had run for Homecoming Queen at San Francisco State as a 6-foot freshman, eventually became a prominent radio personality in San Francisco. She also played Nurse Murch in the 1983 motion picture "The Right Stuff". In 1985 she migrated to New York, in order to make it big in show business. In 1986, she died when the traffic helicopter she was reporting from crashed into the Hudson River in New York City.          

biography insert
photo by Styrous®

Leila And The Snakes released the 45 RPM recording in the late 1970s. It was produced by Roger Clark of Little Roger & the Goosebumps and arranged by Dick Bright. Side A features Rock and Roll Weirdos, copyright Lucky Pork Music, written by Dornacker. Side B features Pyramid Power, copyright Lucky Pork Music, written by Dornacker/Clark. The band also recorded an album produced by Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers. No final mix was done, however, and it went unreleased.             

biography insert detail
detail photo by Styrous®

biography insert detail
detail photo by Styrous®

biography insert detail
detail photo by Styrous®

biography insert detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Leila And The Snakes ~ Rock and Roll Weirdos
45 RPM record, side 1
photo by Styrous®

Leila And The Snakes ~ Pyramid Power
45 RPM record, side 2
photo by Styrous®


Side 1:
A - Rock And Roll Weirdos, written by Jane Dornacker

Side 2:   
B - Pyramid Power, written by Dornacker*, R. Clark*

Companies, etc.

    Recorded At – Beggs/AZ
    Mixed At – Beggs/AZ



Includes biography insert
Leila And The Snakes ‎– Rock & Roll Weirdos
Label: ASP Records (2) ‎– A0001
Format: Vinyl, 7", Single
Country: US
Released: 1978
Genre: Rock
Style: New Wave        
Viewfinder links:             
Sandra Sakata         
The Tubes - White Punks On Dope        
Kaisik Wong            
YouTube links:             
Leila & The Snakes -      
            Rock and Roll Weirdos        
            Pyramid Power              
Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony -          
            93,000,000 Miles        
            I Need Your Help                
Styrous® ~ Tuesday, August 29, 2017           

Joe Pass articles/mentions

Oscar Peterson ~          
       Maharaja of the keyboard         

    Joe Pass 
photographer unknown 

Sandra Sakata articles/mentions

Junichi Arai ~ Really, a necktie?     
Body as Agent: Changing Fashion Art
Betty Davis ~ They Say I'm Different      
Betty Davis, Kaisik Wong & Sandra Sakata    
Phillip Hofstetter ~ Photographer Antiqua 
Leila And The Snakes, Obiko & Kaisik Wong 
Metamorphosis: Clothing & Identity ~ Fashion or Art   
Ennio Morricone ~ Chi Mai & Sandra Sakata  
Obiko fashion show history       
Sandra Sakata & the Obiko fashion shows    
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles      
Textile Arts Council ~ Obiko Art Wear Project    
Sandra Sakata
photographer unknown     

August 28, 2017

Woody Herman articles/mentions

Stan Getz ~ Another World          
Gunther Schuller & Third Stream jazz         
Woody Herman      
Billboard 1943 Music Yearbook page 170       

Anita O'Day articles/mentions

Stan Kenton ~ City of Glass        
Verve Records & Norman Granz        
Anita O'Day - 1940's       
publicity photo