Existential angst meets gothic detective fiction in this curious cultural mash-up from Germany.
Foreign language cover versions of popular English language songs are always a delight, if only to hear how a track sounds when stripped of the familiar lyrical content. Some are extraordinary – Die Crazy Girls’ German version of Leader of the Pack (Der Feuerstuhl) manages to be even more melodramatic and hysterical than the Shangri-Las original, for instance. But few are quite as baffling as Cindy Und Bert’s Der Hund Von Baskerville, which takes Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and complete rewrites it into a song based on the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story. As you do.
So what was once a cry of existential despair from an outsider becomes a tale of gothic horror, with lyrics like (according to Google Translate):
Mist drifts in thick swaths
over the bog of Forrest Hill,
green-ghostly, a wisp of light,
it is night in Baskerville.
Who spreads fear and terror,
who destroys what he wants,
everyone seeks to hide
in front of the Hound of Baskerville.
All this is backed with the familiar tune of Paranoid, but here featuring furious psychedelic guitar and organ solos added to the mix. Blasphemous as it might sound, I have to say, this is something of an improvement on the original.
Cindy Und Bert were a married couple – Jutta Gusenberger and Norbert Berger – who ground out several pop singles of the schlager style (bouncy instrumental pop backed with happy-go-lucky or sentimental lyrics) in the early 1970s, and represented West Germany at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, coming joint last in a year that saw Abba winning. The couple divorced in 1988, Bert moving into production while Cindy maintained a singing career. Her last album, Von Zeit zu Zeit, was released in 2008. Der Hund Von Baskerville – which failed to chart in Germany – seems to have been a musical aberration for the couple, and remains one of the oddest cover versions you’ll ever come across.
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