Lothar Siems and Walter Quintus

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1977)

- Karl Allaut -- guitar

- Adam Askew -- keyboards

- Benny Banforf -- bass

- Okko Bekker -- percussion

- Ian Cussicl -- vocals (various)

- Bertie Engles -- drums

- Peter French -- vocals (Joseph Gobbels)

- Herb Geller -- sax, flute

- Jean Jacques Kravitz -- keyboards

- Neil Landon -- vocals (Adolf Hitler)

- Robert Lanese -- trumpet

- Walter Quintus -- violin, bass, keyboards

- Gisela Siems -- lyrics

- Lothar Siems -- vocals, guitar

- Ingeborg Thomsen -- vocals (revue girl)

- Marti Webb -- vocals (Eva Braun)


- The Chamberlains (Lothar Siems and Walter Quintus)

- Parzival (Lothar Siems and Walter Quintus)

- The Quintus Quartet (Walter Quintus)





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Der Fuhrer (Rock Opera)

Company: Harvest / Electrola

Catalog: C 188-32 508

Country/State: Germany / UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double album; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6231

Price: $90.00


This is easily one of the strangest albums in my collection and it's one I was hesitant to list for fear someone might mistake me as some sort of fascist nutcase.  I'm not ...  in fact as a member of the French resistance my mother was actually arrested by the Gestapo, dumped in a jail and only avoided being deported to a concentration camp when the US Army overran the prison she was being held in ...  Hum never thought that story would come up in a record review.


So what do I know about 1977's "Der Fuhrer (Rock Opera)" ?  German musicians Lothar Siems and Walter Quintus were apparently the brains behind the double album set.  Siems and Quintus' musical partnership stretched back to the mid-1960s including stints in The Chamberlains, The Quintus Quartet, and a pair of early-1970s albums fronting the medieval/progressive influenced band Parzival.  Parzival called it quits in 1973.  With that background it sure would be interesting to know how the pair (with an assist from Gisela Siems in the lyrics department), went from recording medieval influenced tunes to this bizarre concept piece.  Self-produced, the album featured a strange Anglo-German cast including Ian Cussick, Peter French, and Neil Landon.  A 28 tracks, double album set, the plotline was pretty straightforward - tracing the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler.  Condensing  twelve years (1933-1945) into about an hour was itself a pretty impressive feat, but if you believe the hype the recording sessions were surround by lots of weirdness including master tapes picking up weird sounds.  Anyhow, billed as a rock opera, the collection was clearly written with an ear to some sort of stage production.  The songs themselves offered up a mixture of pop and rock pieces (some of the quite good), but much of the set exhibited a distinctive theater feel.  In reviewing the album it was also hard to draw a clear distinction between the music and the story plotline - 'Magic Man' was a perfect case in point.  Musically the song was amazingly catchy sounding like something 10cc might have written, but the lyric's about Hitler's early magnetism on the German psychic made for a real mismatch.  Great song, disturbing lyric ...  A good analogy was The Police song 'Every Breath You Take'.  The Police track was a major hit when I was in college and I had friends who simply adored the song, not realizing the lyrics detailed the thoughts of a crazed stalker..  Try to remember that when you're humming 'Magic Man' or 'What a Man!'.  Imagine a really dark and disturbing Alan Parsons Project and you'll have a feel for what to expect on this one.


One major mystery to me - I was under the impression Germany had banned virtually everything related to the Nazi period, yet this is a German pressing of the album.  Perhaps there was an exception for artistic offerings?   I'm sure someone out there knows how this one got out.


Not an album you'd want to play every day, but it was certainly different and might well appeal to Alan Parsons Project and Al Stewart fans.  


Most folks won't care, but the album's also odd from a marketing standpoint.  This is just a guess on my part, but perhaps to less some of the expected flack, or in order to share project costs, the double album set was released as a partnership between Harvest and the EMI-Odeon imprint.  In fact one of the two albums carried the Harvest label while the other reflected an EMI-Odeon label.  Strange ...  Probably not a big surprise, but in spite of it's anti-war plotline, the album was greeted with widespread controversy and minimal sales.  


"Der Fuhrer (Rock Opera)" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Overture - The Pact  (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 8:02   rating: *** stars

The extended 'Overture - The Pact' opened the album with one of the creepiest songs I've ever heard.  Complete with dark, ominous synthesizer bleeps and blurps, buzz saw guitars, background screams, and what sounded like a cauldron of warlocks chanting away, every time I hear it I get the imagine of being stuck in a dark, dank bunker waiting for something really bad to happen.  This clearly wasn't a track you'd put on the stereo to get a party going ...

2.) Fuhrer Wanted   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:06   rating: *** stars

3.) Listen To Me   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 1:26   rating: *** stars

Hum, exemplified by 'Fuhrer Wanted' , 'The Pact' and 'Listen To Me', who would have thought you could frame the rise of German fascism with such a bouncy series of pop tracks ?   

4.) Here I Am   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:08   rating: *** stars

'Here I Am' found the band moving into full tilt rock and roll mode.  Again, it was hard to get your head around the song and the weird historical perspective.  

5.) Magic Man   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:51   rating: **** stars

With a bright and insidiously catchy power pop melody 'Magic Man' sounded like something the British bands Pilot, or 10cc might have recorded.  

6.) Look Here   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:04   rating: *** stars

In normal circumstances Peter French had an ominous voice, but playing the role of Joseph Gobbels and spouting off Aryan master race rantings as found on 'Look Here' was really kind of scary. 

7.) Interview   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:54   rating: **** stars

Equally bizarre was 'Interview' where you heard Marti Webb's little schoolgirl voice wondering about Hitler's appeal, framed by another pretty pop song.  


(side 2)
1.) Beware Of Him   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:45
   rating: **** stars

With Lake front man Ian Cussick handling the lead vocal, "Beware of Him" was a pretty ballad that sounded like something off an Alan Parsons Project album.  

2.) He Can't Be Bad   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 1:10    rating: ** stars

With a jittery rock base, "He Can't be Bad" almost sounded like a slice of new wave.  

3.) King Of The World   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:38    rating: ** stars

Given the inherent creepy factor in his voice, French was a great choice to play the role of Gobbels.  He played it to the hilt on 'King of the World'.  Meatloaf would have been proud.     

4.) What A Man   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:51   rating: **** stars

Just when you thought it couldn't get much weirder you ran across 'What a Man!' which somehow managed to pair Webb's best Dusty Springfield impersonation with another giddy pop song.  

5.) III Reich Theme (instrumental)   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 0:42    rating: ** stars

6.) Burning Of The Books   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:41    rating: ** stars

The brief instrumental segment 'III Reich Theme' opened into the synthesizer-propelled call and response segment 'The Burning of the Books' which was basically just a list of classic literature being torched.

7.) Brown Clouds   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:41   rating: *** stars

 In case you hadn't figured it out, Cussick was the go-to-guy on the set, playing multiple roles including 'Jew warning man' on the pretty ballad 'Brown Clouds'.   The track also featured a great Karl Allaut lead guitar solo. 

8.) Dying Day   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 4:07   rating: *** stars

Showcasing life as a prisoner of the Reich, 'Dying Day' was another track that sounded like something off of an Alan Parsons Project album.  Again, trying to get your head around the lulling melody and the disturbing historically-based lyric was tough.   


(side 3)

1.) Berlin, Berlin   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:21    rating: ** stars

Side three opened up with a strange atmospheric instrumental segment before morphing into what sounded a bit like a bossa nova segment.  Kind of a strange way to cover the segment of the plotline covering the plans to assassinate Hitler. 

2.) I'm Alive   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 4:40   rating: *** stars

'I'm Alive' was another straight ahead rocker.  The song was actually pretty good, though French's raw vocal was again kind of disconcerting; especially when it came to the list of territorial conquests.   

3.) Every Morning   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:10   rating: *** stars

'Every Morning' was another pretty acoustic ballad and if it weren't buried in the middle of this concept piece you probably never would have guessed it was a love paean to Hitler.    

4.) Stalingrad   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 6:22

Sung by Ian Cussick from the standpoint of a German soldier on the Eastern front, complete with tundra wind and other sound effects, 'Stalingrad' was every bit as dark and disturbing as you'd expect.  From a historical standpoint it's hard to imagine a larger and more hideous waste of life than this episode was.   rating: *** stars

5.) Tingel Tangel   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:19    rating: * star

No rock opera is complete without a nod to sex which seems to be the reason for the Dixieland jazz-tinged 'Tingle-Tangle'.  Beyond that it added absolutely nothing to the plotline.   

6.) Stalingrad Is Lost   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 0:42    rating: ** stars

Nothing more than a brief spoken word segment, 'Stalingrad Is Lost' closed side three out.    


(side 4)
1.) We Shall Win   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:29
    rating: ** stars

Hum, Hitler as a junkie ...  guess there's some historical truth in that, though the song wasn't all that good.  In fact, the best part of 'We Shall Win' was the slide guitar backing.  

2.) Total War   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:19   rating: *** stars

Overlooking the snippets of an actual Joseph Gobbels speech, 'Total War' was probably the album's best rocker. 

3.) The Looking-Glass   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 3:04   rating: *** stars
4.) Nightmare   (L
othar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 4:06
   rating: *** stars

Opening up with some nice acoustic guitar and understated synthesizer, 'The Looking Glass' was another pretty melody somewhat undermined by the Hitler-in-a-reflective mood lyric.

4.) Nightmare   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 4:06    rating: ** stars

Frankly 'Nightmare' didn't make much of an impression of me as a plotline development, or from a musical standpoint.  

5.) Wake Up   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:02    rating: ** stars

Ah, another Eva Braun ballad ...  "Wake Up' sounded like one of those pseudo-Caribbean ABBA numbers.  

6.) Fuhrerbunker   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 1:12     rating: ** stars

7.) Pied Piper   (Lothar Siems - Walter Quintus - Gisela Siems) - 2:19    rating: ** stars

Yeah, the closer 'Pied Piper' started out on a jarring note, though the message seemed to be that many of us are mindless sheep willing to follow any leader.