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Puhdys developed out of the Udo-Wendel-Combo in 1965 in Oranienburg after the split with Wendel himself. The four members took the letters from their first names —Peter Meyer, Udo Jacob, Harry Jeske and Dieter Hertrampf — and formed the Puhdys.  The band went through several personnel changes (in which Dieter Birr joined) until 1969, when they were given a professional performance license, which was all-important in East Germany. They based their sound heavily on British hard rock bands such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Although there was a great demand for covers in East Germany, largely because the audience was unable to buy western albums, rock music was still viewed with suspicion in the DDR. The artistic climate changed after Erich Honecker came to power in 1971, and the Puhdys were offered the chance to record for the state-run Amiga label, as long as they performed in the German language and remained apolitical. The result was the band's first single, ‘Türen öffnen sich zur Stadt’ recorded in 1971.

The following year, the Puhdys appeared in the Heiner Carow film ‘Die Legende von Paul und Paula’. Although the film was quickly withdrawn due to its not-so-subtle political message it established the carreer of the band whose four songs on the soundtrack became big hits. After a steaming performande at 10th World Festival of Youth and Students the first Puhdys album was released in early 1974. They even were allowed to do a brief tour in The Netherlands and Belgium. The first and second album turned out to be a watered version of the live experience the Puhdys offered but their third, Sturmvogel (1976) made up for them, and proved to be very popular. Avoiding English hard rock, the band recorded a cover version of ‘Schlafe ein und fang die Träume’ (Fall Asleep And Reach Your Dreams), by the Polish band 2 plus 1, ‘Lebenszeit’, ‘Reise zum Mittelpunkt der Erde’ and the title track. However, the tune that was to become the band's signature song was released as a single. ‘Alt wie ein Baum’ (As Old As A Tree) was released in 1976 and only appeared on compilations. Although the Puhdys had performed and toured in other communist countries they were most popular (outside the DDR) in West Germany. In 1976 they were finally allowed to perform there as well. The band followed up Sturmvogel with a cover album of 1950s and early 1960s rock'n'roll songs. The band continued on its hardrock course untill drummer Wosylus left the band. He was replaced by former Prinzip drummer Klaus Scharfschwerdt. The first album with him was Heiß wie Schnee (1980). Under influence by the significantly younger Scharfschwerdt, the Puhdys adopted elements of New Wave and synth pop on ‘Computer-Karriere’ and ‘Das Buch’. By this time, the band's popularity outside the GDR was at its peak.

Seeking to expand their following outside Germany, the Puhdys recorded an English-language album ‘Far From Home’ which turned out to be a big failure. After that the bands schedule slowed down; giving space for Birr to record his solo album ‘Intim’ and Hertrampf ‘Liebe pur’. By the end of the 1980s, the Puhdys decided to disband. Their 1988 album ‘Neue Helden’, recorded with an orchestra, was intended to be their last; its faintly political lyrics were written by singer-songwriter Kurt Demmler under a pseudonym. The album's original cover, which pictured two babies wearing diapers in the flags of the Soviet Union and United States, was banned.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 interest in East German artists plummeted. Birr's new band Maschine & Männer suffered any attention. The Puhdys reunited for a one-off concert at the Brandenburg Gate in 1991, but due to the enthusiastic respons decided to pick up where they left off. The album ‘Wie ein Engel’ had minor succes. In 1993 the entire Puhdys backcatalogue was released in CD. Live the band remained popular surviving on the upcoming Ostalgia (nostalgia to the DDR times). In 1998 Harry Jeske was replaced by Peter "Bimbo" Rasym. The new lineup recorded ‘Wilder Frieden’ (1999), which showed the influence of new, hard-edged German bands, particularly Rammstein. The song ‘Wut will nicht sterben’ even featured their singer Till Lindemann and guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe. By the next album it became clear that Birr started to claim a dominant position in the band, as he wrote the lyrics and composed the music with Meyer. The 2003 album ‘Undercover’ featured cover versions of East German rock songs. The same year, Birr became seriously ill after contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite. ; After he recovered he composed all of the tracks for the band's 2005 album ‘Alles hat seine Zeit’. It was claimed that the cover picture, which depicted Birr at the center with the other bandmembers with their backs to the camera, was synonymous for the growing friction within the band.

On the web:

- The Puhdys website: http://www.puhdys.com/

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts:

- Gasolin (Denmark)

- Omega (Hungary)

What do we think:

DB:No DDR-Ostrock anthology compilation should be complete without at least one song by the Puhdys on it. With maybe one of the most dorky names and the worst and ugliest graphic designs for their albumcovers in European rockhistory their music is the contrary. Especially some of their seventies albums sounds like the German answer to the Sweet mixed with Status Quo and Uriah heep. Derailing organ sounds, pumping bass and drums, wailing guitar solo’s, it was all there. Glam and hard rock combined. A crafty effort considering they barely had excess to music which inspired them and it underlines that the bandmembers where all good musicians. As it goes with rockbands that continue endlessly their studioalbums became less and less interesting, chewing over the old music that they recorded in their prime. Live however this is still one of the big rock dinosaurs touring the German territory and capable of moving a crowd.


♪♪♪♪ - Die Puhdys – 1974

♪♪♪ - Puhdys – 1975

♪♪♪♪♪ - Sturmvogel – 1976

- Rock ’n’ Roll Music – 1976

♪♪♪ - Perlenfischer – 1977

- Heiß wie Schnee – 1980

- Schattenreiter – 1982

- Computer-Karriere  - 1983

- Das Buch – 1984

- Ohne Schminke – 1986

- Neue Helden – 1989

- Wie ein Engel – 1992

- Zeiten ändern sich – 1994

- Frei wie die Geier – 1997

- Wilder Frieden – 1999

- Zufrieden? – 2001

♪♪ - Dezembertage – 2001

♪ - Undercover – 2003

- Alles hat seine Zeit – 2005

♪♪ - Dezembernächte – 2006

- Es war schön - 2012

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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