Saturday, December 21, 2013

Peter Schilling - Error in the System

Today (December 21st) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Error in the System, the first English album by German singer Peter Schilling. The record was released in his native country in late 1982 under the title Fehler im System.

Schilling provided all the vocals on the record. He was joined by Armin Sabol (guitar), Rolf Kersting (bass), Gunther Gebauer (bass), Frank Hieber (keyboards), Gonzo Bishop (keyboards), Dicky Tarrach (drums), Mickie Stickdorn (drums) and Curt Cress (drums).

Side one opens with the aspiring “Only Dreams”. The song opens with a stripped down accompaniment which builds as it reaches the second verse.

“Lifetime Guarantee” features a reggae rhythm fused with a new-wave sensibility.

“The Noah Plan” tells a tale of an apocalyptic future, delivered at a fevered pitch. The synth elements give it a very sci-fi feel.

The title track “Error in the System” finishes off the first half. This one too has a very quick tempo, but done in a style very different than the last one. It sort of reminds me of Devo a little bit.

Side two begins with the song Schilling is most famous for here in the US. “Major Tom (Coming Home)” pays homage to fictional astronaut that is the subject of David Bowie’s 1969 album Space Oddity. The original version in German went to number 1 in Austria, Switzerland and West Germany. The English version hit number 42 in the UK, number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 4 in South Africa, number 2 in France and number 1 in Canada. This one was a big part of my first year at college in 1983/1984 and easily earns a four-star rating in my iTunes library. The song also inspired a piece of fiction I did back in 2009 for the 25th issue of the World of Maenza, my online site for my Champions super-hero role-playing-game game world. Click here for that issue and here for just the story.

The song continues seamlessly into the instrumental “Major Tom, Part II” which implies some kind of tranquil conclusion to the hit single’s story.

“(Let’s Play) USA” gives a look this country, circa the 1980’s, through the eyes of someone on the outside looking in. Sadly, it still rings with some relevance over three decades later.

“I Have No Desire” is next up. I like the eerie sounds of the synths in parts of this one.

Very appropriate for this time of the year, “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”, the German version of the Christmas carol “Silent Night, Holy Night”, closes the record. But, of course, it is hardly a traditional version; the arrangement is all 80’s synth and bass.

Even though it was released on a double-CD with the original album in 2008, Error in the System is a tough one to find for a reasonable price. I was at least glad to locate it to listen to online thanks to YouTube and Grooveshark. If this one ever surface on digital downloads, I would so hunt it down.


HERC said...

Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)" was another one of those songs we used to show off car stereos back then. Most definitely a banger especially in it's eight minute extended club version whether in English or German. The beginning 20 seconds are awesome.

Never had any interest in the album or any of the many remixes that came years later. Finally scored Herr Schilling's discography last year after stating my love for the wonderfully mechanized rhythm of "Major Tom" on another forum. "4, 3, 2, 1"

Are you still writing outside of Martin's View? Really liked some of your stuff.

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, I have not written any fiction in a number of years. I did that three and a half years of DC Comics Fanfiction back around 2000 and then my own super-hero stuff around 2005. I need to get back into doing that, time willing.