(Written by Chris Hibberd)
Before every recording session I have the same dream; a million green men in the orchestra pit playing a million wrong notes
Gert would nevertheless get them to play a joyful, frisky, funky groove eventually. His work straddled many genres of music but his two best-known pieces are for a Moulinex commercial and the title theme of the Schulmadchen Report series of sex comedies. But before we get onto food processors and frauleins, a little history. Cue brass section, sexy cooing from the backing singers and choppy wah-wah guitar at the ready. Let’s begin!
Gert Wychodil was born in April 1917 in Moravska Trebova, Czechoslovakia. He studied at the Prague Conservatoire before moving to Germany. After the Second World War, he worked extensively for German Radio as a composer and arranger. His work in soundtracks started in the 1950s but he is best known for the title theme of the Schulmadchen Report, popular in West Germany in the 1970s. He wasn’t a stranger to working on material with a certain saucy, nudge, nudge wink appeal. A quick look at his work includes films and TV programmes such as Run, Virgin, Run, Confessions of a Sixth Form Girl, Swinging Wives and Nurses for Sale.
Cripes! I need a cold shower just after typing this.
70s German Sex Comedies: A Brief Historical Interlude
Gert was resurrected/introduced (delete as you feel appropriate) in the 1990s within the UK as part of a revival of Easy Listening when Crippled Dick Hot Wax Records released a series of groovy compilations of 60s and 70s soundtracks by the great and the good of Euro-exploitation/Soft Porn.
In the UK we had the Carry On films limping into the 70s but instead of pfnarring and coring old men leering at the cleavage of busty dolly birds in dear old Blighty, there was actual nudity and pretty near the knuckle sexual activity over in Germany. Movies there abounded with teenage (or near as the law would allow) girls frolicking around with beardy hairy men from Dusseldorf rather than twenty-something Doreens from Deptford being chased by an increasingly aged Sid James. Despite the lack of educational rigour and rampant rumpy-pumpy between all and sundry, no-one ever closed these euro-schools of sleaze down!!
The theme which Gert composed has a kind of oompah propulsiveness to it, a sexy parp if you will (oo-er!!) which makes the on-screen action seem quaint rather than graphic.
Mixers in the Mix
Wilden also wrote the advertising music for the Moulinex chain of blenders and household appliances. The Moulinex jingle sounds like a Baccarat record that you’ve forgotten about or dreamt of in a fevered state after drinking too much Blue Nun over a few pineapple and cheese entrées whilst bedecked in the finest of manmade fibres. Over a funky wah wah guitar workout, a breathy voice emotes the name of the manufacturer over and over again. As the song develops it turns into a groovy disco song, four to the floor style whilst the incanting of Moulinex becomes dirtier. Who knew food appliances were so funky!
Best of the Rest
Gert’s work covered many genres but to give you a steer as to what I believe is his best work, here for your delectation, are five of Gert’s Best.
1. Dirty Beat : Propulsive, but not too strident, but with a groovy sax to the fore, like the best of his music it swings but not too hard. A fuzzy guitar-hero solo about 40 seconds gives it a funky feel. Organ bubbles away throughout so it feels like you’re in a disco come brothel, maybe in the Reeperbahn, about to attempt to get off with a suitably horny hausfrau from Hamburg.
2. Follow Me: With its groovy do-do-do main theme and heavy organ/drum counterpoint in the breakdown, it’s my own personal favourite track of his. Funky, groovy, and propulsive, it is a good example of the big beat sound of the late 60s and early 70s that would have boomed out of the local disco from Birmingham to Berlin. If I rub my polyester trouser legs together maybe it will cause a rip in the space-time continuum and I can travel back to the late 60s and cut some mean shapes to this!
3. Green Spider Theme: What would you get if you mixed the themes from Get Smart, Dave Allen and Kojak? The answer is you would get the Green Spider Theme. As the three pieces of music, I have referenced above hint at, it’s a propulsive piece of music which gives the listener the impression that they are on the tough streets of New York . The horns sound almost like they are playing the main motif of the Get Smart theme. Extra cool points given for an Italian exploitation style whistle break before the horns flare out at the end. New York-Italian American via West Germany.
4. Bullet Proof: A cymbal crash heralds the start before segueing into a spaghetti western theme before veering off into a cross between a military piece of and a 60s ATV theme tune of a show you can’t remember.
5. Hong Kong Twist: Frothy 60s fun. Sax driven take on the twist with a bossa nova lilt as well for good measure. If that doesn’t make you want to groove with miniskirted minxes, then you’re dead below the waist grandad.
Putting (and earning) the Pfennig in Funky
With over 60 film score composer credits to his name and over 300 albums released where he is credited as either the arranger, composer or producer, it’s safe to say Gert was no slouch in getting himself out and about to earn a pfennig or two. In the early 60s he was head of the Bavarian Television Orchestra too.
Gert worked well into his nineties as a composer and writer and he lived until the ripe old age of 98. I’d like to think he’s up in heaven conducting a funky brass section in Saint Peter’s own recording studio whilst looking at a rough cut of Schulmadchen Report 155: Frisky Frauleins in Frankfurt. Swing und Schwing! From mixers to minxes and all manner of flora and fauna between, he supplied a groovy soundtrack for them all.
Recommended Listening (and Watching)
I Told You Not To Cry – Gert Wilden and Orchestra (Crippled Dick Hot Wax Records). For all this and more, you’ll need to…