Story of Franz Biberkopf - 2015
The Tiger Lillies re-tell this classic novel from Berlin in the Weimar years, also performing it as a stage show in Frankfurt
A year on from their World War I concept album A Dream Turns Sour, which was very well received both in the UK and when the band toured overseas, The Tiger Lillies are back with a musical side-swipe at love, death, desire and corruption. The Story of Franz Biberkopf is released on 21 October 2015 and is enjoying a long stage-run in Frankfurt with the band performing the songs from the album every night there.
The inspiration for this album came from the tragic-ironic life of Franz Biberkopf, the hero of German writer Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, one of the most important novels to come out of the Weimar Republic. In this way it joins the company of earlier Tiger Lillies albums in the band’s growing repertoire of work inspired by literary classics, such as Hamlet, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and of course the award-winning Shockheaded Peter. Our hero Franz is a petty crook, just out of prison and adrift in the depravity of inter-war Berlin, who eventually finds some stability when he falls in with a kindly prostitute. But things go wrong when she gets murdered, and Franz understands he can never escape the criminal underworld.
These themes of the dregs of human existence all find their fond corners in the songwriting imagination of Tiger Lillies’ founder and front-man Martyn Jaques, who had sympathetic work here making an album of songs about poor, unfortunate Franz. The opening song, “No One’s Clown”, sets the scene with things looking bleak for Franz, but with underlying comedy too, only for Martyn to twist things like a defrocked gospel preacher in the relentless “Job’s Song”. He then acts as our tour guide as the next few songs take us round the hopeless and the fallen of Berlin, before the winsome respite of “In Love with the Moon”. But brutal comedy returns in “Earn the Cake” and not even the torch song of “You Lost Your Heart in Heidelberg” can save Franz from the wheel of destiny.
To add as well, this album about Berlin was also produced there, recorded and mastered by Timm Brockmann at Studio 64, with extra work done at Blurt Studios in London. Martyn Jaques is on vocals, accordion, piano, organ and guitar, Adrian Stout on double bass, musical saw and jaw harp, with Timothy Remfrey on drums. The trio are joined by Suzana Bradaric and Axel Ruhland on strings, Ole Tholen on saxophone and Timm again on synthesiser and sampler, organ and percussion. The songs and lyrics were composed for the production at the Schauspiel Frankfurt theatre, which opened on 17 September this year.
Digipack with booklet
1. No One's Clown
2. Job's Song
3. Fresh Flesh
4. Reaper Called Death
6. King of Berlin
7. Sin City
8. In Love with the Moon
9. Earn the Cake
11. You Lost your Heart in Heidelberg
12. Tick Tock
13. Onward Christian Soldiers Now