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The Thunderstorm from Düsseldorf
In 1982, Düsseldorf’s Fun Punk band ZK disbanded, and as their successor Die Toten Hosen (The Dead Pants) were founded. In the same year, they already played fifty shows in West Germany and in Rome, and in early 1983 they managed to play an illegal concert in East Berlin. 1983 was already the year when Die Toten Hosen released their first singles on their own independent label Totenkopf, and in summer the debut album Opel-Gang followed ibidem. For those who know Die Toten Hosen and their music in present days this may sound hard to believe, but the quintet from Düsseldorf was a raging storm that brought Punk Rock to every corner of Germany in these days.
Birth of a Sound
When Punk Rock came to Germany, early protagonists oriented themselves by idols from the United Kingdom and the United States. Thus, it took some time until the German Punk Rock sound was established which later was referred to as Deutschpunk. Different to other bands of this phase, such as Slime or Upright Citizens, Die Toten Hosen did not sing in English – even though vocalist and songwriter Campino is bilingual. Music-wise, Opel-Gang furthermore is far from what later became Deutschpunk. Instead, the sound of the fifteen tracks shows plenty of parallels to bands like Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Sham 69 or CockSparrer.
The Voice of a Generation
Opel-Gang contains fifteen songs that speak the language of a young generation that does not want to take anyone’s bullshit no more. Fed up with racism and xenophobia in a country that has never really overcome its fascist past, Die Toten Hosen raise their snotty voices. They mock the affluence of their home town, the inequal distribution of goods and power in Europe, and last but not least, they also know how to play a legit party banger.
Bis zum bitteren Ende
Opel-Gang is a relict of the time when Punk Rock became famous in Germany, and it is without doubt one of the most important albums in German Punk Rock history. Die Toten Hosen were never a Deutschpunk band but they definitely coined the subculture and rock music in Germany in these days.