Ideal – “Ideal” (1980)

This is my second foray into Neue Deutsche Welle, aka New German Wave, that early 1980s blend of post-punk, new wave, and electronic music that burst onto the scene in West Germany like a fireball and almost as quickly burned itself out. Previously I wrote about Extrabreit; this time around it’s Ideal. The band’s singer Annette Humpe was previously in Neonbabies before co-founding Ideal in 1980s, and as a result there was an odd situation in which both bands recorded and released a song she wrote, “Blaue Augen”, in 1980, and for Ideal it was their highest charting single during their brief three-year existence.

There’s a frenetic quality to the opening track “Berlin”, one that carries through much of Ideal with the notable exception of the sludgy, viscous “Telephathe”. Even when the pace is slower, the songs have a certain edge to them, not quite a desperation but more of an insistence. The B side has some great jams, “Luxus” and “Rote Liebe” being among the album’s high points, alongside the dub-infused “Da Leg Ich Mich Doch Lieber Hin”. Ideal is a touch dated, but c’mon, this record is 40 years old, so it’s surprising just how good it sounds.

Extrabreit – “Welch Ein Land ! – Was Für Männer” (1981)

Until I sat down to do a little research for this post I’d never heard of the German Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) movement. Welch Ein Land ! – Was Für Männer was released right at the time NDW was breaking out of the underground and becoming mainstream. The feeling I get from it is fairly typical new wave with elements of The Beat and Berlin, though there are some darker tracks like “Polizisten” that bring a post-punk aesthetic (and feels a little like something off of The Wall). The whole thing is surprisingly good, particularly the dark B side opener “Der Präsident Ist Tot” with its relentless beat pounding you into submission like a military march.

The cover has that old school 1980s style of 3-D printing (and the album’s opening track is titled “3-D”), and sure enough the album includes a pair of those 3-D specs you used to get at the movies – the cardboard frames with one red and one green lens, only without the arms to hold them behind your ears. These work about as well as you remember, but if you get the angle and lighting right the effect can actually be momentarily startling. So if you come across a copy of Welch Ein Land ! – Was Für Männer make sure to see if the specs are there. And speaking of 1981, compliments to the far right rocking the sweet calculator watch.