Magazine article New Internationalist

[Lenya, Lotte. the Seven Deadly Sins: Berlin Theatre Songs]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[Lenya, Lotte. the Seven Deadly Sins: Berlin Theatre Songs]

Article excerpt

It's hard to resist any song that declares, with Ute Lemper's typically grand flourish, 'I am a vamp!' before going on to detail some of the items - men apart - the vamp in question has in her collection: 'the Weimar constitution / also Hitler's first moustache'.

'I am a vamp', a risque cabaret song dating from the period that was described by Christopher Isherwood's stories and Bob Fosse's Oscar-laden film Cabaret, is just one song on Decca's essential Lemper compilation. Although the release of All That Jazz is tied neatly to Lemper's current starring role on the London stage in the musical Chicago, this is the latest album in which the blonde chanteuse works her elegance around the 1930s Berlin cabaret and theatre songs. She looks like Dietrich; detractors might even say that she's made a career out of it.

That's unfair, of course. Lemper has a formidable presence which, coupled with her dramatic and subtle musicality, makes up an undeniable talent. Yet her success in delivering Berlin-orientated material begs certain questions about just why pre-war Berlin exerts its pervasive fascination over Western culture. From the safe distance of time, pre-1933 Berlin is infused with a seedy glamour in which life is dangerous and sexy. The word most often used is decadence - yet decadence, with its connotations of decline - is misleading. The Nazi's themselves used to define 'degenerate' (entartete) art and Decca have an immensely fine series of records to prove it. …

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