Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Vienna calling

Posted By on Wed, Jan 12, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Falco (Johann Hoelzel) synthesized the best of the West for the Eastern Bloc and somehow managed to strike a chord all the way back across the Atlantic. Love ‘im or hate ‘im, his greatest near-miss (After The Fire’s English version of) "Der Kommissar," and his #1 hit "Rock Me Amadeus" are, like, totally ‘80s. Yet he could be called the Austrian ancestor to Beck or Puff Daddy. He borrowed whatever at-odds influences he found and turned them into collage pop.

Greatest Hits, you ask? Falco released five US albums and kept going strong at home until his tragic death last year in a car accident. Bowie, Kurtis Blow, Kraftwerk and Blondie all got twisted into anthemic Falco fluff. While mostly forgotten here, he’s a folk hero in Austria, where he spoke to a generation of ignored and disaffected youth, with songs too controversial and political for Eastern European radio. Web sites abound.

While 15 techno-pop tracks auf Deutsch may be overkill for most, Falco’s story and music still deserve to be remembered. Plus there’s a Jason Nevins remix of "Der Kommissar." Could a VH-1 "Behind the Music" be far behind?

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