24 March 2009

I'm In Love With A German Film Star by The Passions

Post Punk had a mad crush on all things German. German art. German novels. German music. John Lydon regularly name checked Can. Ultravox! nicked their exclamation mark from Neu! And OMD's Paul Humphreys was so besotted with Kraftwerk that he slept with one of their albums under his pillow. With its gleaming new cities, its multi-lane roadways and high-speed rail links, and its cool, technical proficiency, Germany seemed to embody the spirit of modernity, even as it was haunted by the ghost of its tragic past. This strange fascination with the Teutonic provided The Passions with their sole hit, a sensuous tale of cinematic longing called, "I'm In Love With A German Film Star."

The band was formed in the Latimer Road area of London in 1977. Like many bands, they went through some line up changes, before settling on the core duo of Barbara Gogan (guitar & vocals) and Clive Temperley (guitar), backed by David Agar on bass and Richard Williams on drums. Despite a high-profile support slot on The Cure's Seventeen Seconds tour, The Passions first lp, Michael & Miranda failed to disturb the charts. Chris Parry summarily dismissed them from the Fiction label, but Fiction's parent company, Polydor, had more faith, and booked them into the studio with in-house producer Pete Wilson. Best known for his work with Comsat Angels, Wilson took Temperley's echoplex guitar and triple-tracked it in stereo, spreading its expansive swell of sound across six channels of the studio's mixing desk. William's kick drum, meanwhile, was used to trigger a vocoder, giving the track a ghostly, dub-like boom in the bottom end. Against this wide-screen backdrop, Gogan's voice yearned for some minor celebrity once glimpsed at a bar, sitting in a corner, trying to look too posed for the cameras and the girls. "It really moved me, it really moved me," Gogan sings in her cool, dispassionate manner. But who exactly was this mystery man who moved her so? Klaus Kinski? Rutger Hauer?

Well, none of these. And not even a film star, actually, but a roadie for The Clash who rather looked like he might be a German film star. Even so, the song was an immediate sensation. The NME made it single of the week and it was second only to Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" for total airplays on British Radio. Unfortunately, Polydor had pressed too few copies, and the single stalled at number 25 on the charts. By the time the record company had rectified the mistake, demand for the single had peaked. To make matters worse, Pete Wilson, whose inventive production had added a distinctly European glamour to "I'm In Love," was unavailable for the album that followed. The production duties were left to the capable if unspectacular talents of Nigel Gray, resulting in a capable if unspectacular album, Thirty Thousand Feet Over China.

Gathered here are the three singles from The Passions' moment in the sun, 1980-81: "The Swimmer" b/w "War Song," "I'm In Love With A German Film Star" b/w "(Don't Talk To Me) I'm Shy," and "Skin Deep" b/w "I Radiate." As a bonus, we are including "Some Fun," the b-side to the 1981 re-release of "The Swimmer."

-- Crash The Driver


"The Swimmer"

01 The Swimmer
02 War Song
UK 7" Polydor [POSP 184] 1980

"I'm In Love With A German Film Star"

03 I'm In Love With A German Film Star
04 (Don't Talk To Me) I'm Shy
UK 7" Polydor [POSP 222] 1981

"Skin Deep"

05 Skin Deep
06 I Radiate
UK 7" Polydor [POSP 256] 1981

"The Swimmer" Re-Release

07 Some Fun
UK 7" Polydor [POSP 325] 1981


  1. hello

    nice blog, would like to swap links, if you like mine and want to link let me know, thanx


  2. Someday we should post some latter-day Barbara Gogan, or maybe the tracks from her sister's band. They make me happy! Like this tune.

  3. All of these tracks (except 'Skin Deep') are now available on the Cherry Red re-issue of 'Thirty Thousand Feet Over China'

  4. hey man, rutger hauer is dutch

  5. The Passions have always been so criminally underrated, so it's nice to see them getting some love here. As much as I adore this blog and wait with feverish anticipation for each new posting, I do have to take issue with the description of 30,000 Ft. Over China as "unspectacular". I think it's a marvelous and nearly flawless record, and it remains my very favorite album of theirs, not to mention a favorite of the era. Any fan of post punk's poppier waters needs to check it out.