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The band was founded in East Berlin in 1978 as Familie Silly by guitarist Thomas Fritzsching and bassist Mathias Schramm. They added Familie to the band's name after East German authorities refused to allow Silly by itself, as it was an English expression; the band claimed that Silly was the name of their mascot, a cat, who behaved in silly manners.

They recruited singer Tamara Danz through an audition. Danz had previously worked as a singer in both the Oktoberclub, a politically charged vocal group, and the Horst-Krüger-Band, a popular progressive rock ensemble. Silly's first notable concert appearances outside East Germany were in Romania, where the band gained a strong following; it helped that Danz could speak Romanian fluently. Unusually, the band's first, self-titled album was released first in West Germany in 1981, in contrast to the East German state record label Amiga's reluctance to produce an album. With the West German album a fait accompli, Amiga was forced to issue the album domestically, where it was immensely popular. At this time, they also dropped the "Familie" from the band name.

At around this time the band made the acquaintance of poet Werner Karma, who would write the lyrics for the band's albums until 1989. His complex and often politically charged lyrics gave the band a strong intellectual appeal, but frequently landed them in trouble with the censors, who demanded changes before allowing a song to be performed.

In 1982, Danz's then-boyfriend Rüdiger "Ritchie" Barton, joined the band, replacing its two keyboardists. His synthesizer playing lent a New Wave edge to the band's subsequent album, Mont Klamott, named for the "rubbish mountain" in Berlin's Friedrichshain district that was built over the debris of a World War II flak tower. Silly's censorship problem became more acute in 1985 when their planned album Zwischen unbefahr'nen Gleisen, which had been ready for release - but was recalled by East German officials, who had taken offence the "subversive" message of several tracks. It was eventually released as Liebeswalzer (Waltz of Love), containing rewritten lyrics. (The CD version restored the album in it’s original form) After this album bassist Jäcki Reznicek, formerly of Pankow, joined the band and played an important part on the sound of the next album Battailon D'amour (Battalion of Love, 1986) with his fretless bass. Following the success of Bataillon d'Amour, the band took a two-year break from recording, during which they split with Karma. Danz sought the assistance of up-and-coming singer-songwriter Gerhard Gundermann in writing lyrics.

In 1989 the end of communism did not lead to a breakthrough for Silly. Although Danz had petitioned the East German government for change during 1989, and illegally read out petitions during the band's concerts. Ariola tried to break the band nationally as a household name but Danz felt constrained by the industry, who deemed the band's songs not commercial, and provided Silly with chart-friendly music and lyrics. Instead, Silly's next album would be the self-produced Hurensöhne (Sons of Bitches). Largely ignored in western Germany, Hurensöhne reestablished Silly as an important band in the east. During the recording for the follow-up, Paradies, in 1995, Danz was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she was operated immediately, the disease had spread. She died July 1996, five months after the album had come out. Shortly before her death, she married Hassbecker.

The band did not break up after Danz's death. In 2006 Hassbecker, Barton, and Reznicek announced a new electro-acoustic tour with actress and singer Anna Loos, This get's a follow up with a brand new album in 2010. In 1998, singer Joachim Witt had a hit in Germany with a cover version of "Battailon d'Amour." The Polish goth metal band Batalion d'Amour was also named for the song. In 2013 the cooperation with new singer Loos is continued with the much more balanced 'Kopf an Kopf'.

On the web:

- Silly's website: http://www.sillyhome.de

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

Rio Reiser (Germany)

What do we think:

DB: I first heard of Silly when i was at the Popkomm in Berlin. The lecture was about local backcatalogue that should have the opportunity to get a second chance on legal downloadshops like Itunes. The mayor record companies didn't care for local European repertoire and so Europop was shunned out of legal distribution. Anyway, the lecturer came from former East Germany and played a track from Batallion d'amour as an example. I never heard of Silly but the track sounded very interesting. The next i tried to find the album on cd which turned out to be more difficult then i thought. Unsurprisingly only the Saturn at the Alexanderplatz East Berlin sold some of their back catalogue. Since then Silly got more recognition throughout Germany at classic rock festivals but somehow they stay an East german thing. Too bad cause they are one of the better German languaged rock bands of the era.



♪♪ - Silly (Tanzt keiner Boogie ) - 1980

♪♪♪ - Mont Klamott - 1983

♪♪♪ - Liebeswalzer - 1985

♪♪♪♪♪ - Battaillon D'amour - 1986

♪♪♪♪ - Februar - 1989

♪♪♪ - Hurensöhne - 1993

? - Paradies - 1996

♪♪♪ - Alles Rot - 2010

♪♪♪ - Kopf an Kopf - 2013

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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