View Full Version : Bowlback mandolin in rock music - BAP 1983

Martin Jonas
Dec-16-2018, 5:15am
Those of you from German-speaking countries will know the band BAP -- they are the all-time best-selling German-language rock band with eleven No. 1 chart albums (I say "German-language" -- it's Cologne dialect, actually, which is intelligible only within 50 miles of that city). They are also the soundtrack of my youth, as I was literally there at their commercial breakthrough. My dad went to art school in Cologne in the 1970s with the band leader Wolfgang Niedecken and the rural retreat where BAP rehearsed in the early 1980s was run by family friends. When I was 12, I was one of around 50 local kids invited to a final live rehearsal before they went into the studio to record their 1981 break through album "Für Usszeschnigge!" -- the album and the lead single "Verdamp lang her" went to No. 1 and BAP changed from an obscure local dialect band to the biggest live concert draw in the country overnight.

Here is a live recording from that era: a 1983 concert video of a song from their 1982 album "Vun drinne noh drusse". The song is "Eins für Carmen un en Insel", based on a catchy mandolin riff. For this song, the band's lead guitarist Klaus "Major" Heuser (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaus_Heuser) switched from electric guitar to a bowlback mandolin played through an internal pickup (one of their roadies plays guitar instead).

I can't quite identify the mandolin. It's a bowlback with slotted tuners, but not on the modern German pattern (which in 1983 wasn't really around yet anyway). Heuser plays it standing up but without a strap -- an art many bowlback players haven't mastered!


Dec-16-2018, 2:24pm
Cool :)

Martin Jonas
Dec-16-2018, 4:41pm
Cool :)

Thanks, John.

It's a pity that the sound mix in the video has the cheesy 1980s keyboard so high that it buries part of the mandolin riff. The song also appeared on the live double album from the same 1983 tour ("Bess Demnähx" -- also No. 1 in the German album charts), with a much better sound mix putting the mandolin loud up front. No visuals, but a better showcase for Heuser's mandolin chops:



Dec-16-2018, 10:02pm
Thanks for the link to the nice video Martin. Klaus Heuser in his pre-hat days.
I guess, I read somewhere, that the mandolin was a birthday present from the other band members for Klaus.
They probably didn't find an affordable F-or A-style at this time, so they went for a bowlback.