Good grief! I thought I’d heard just about everything, but…


… a post on MeWe has demonstrated the error of my assumptions.

Back in 1977, German disco group Boney M. had their third big hit (locally and in many other countries) with the song ‘Ma Baker‘.  Wikipedia notes:

Frank Farian’s assistant Hans-Jörg Mayer discovered a popular Tunisian folkloric song, “Sidi Mansour” while on holiday, and rewrote the song into a disco track.

The lyrics by Fred Jay were inspired by the story of legendary 1930s outlaw Ma Barker, although the name was changed into “Ma Baker” because “it sounded better”.

I can remember boppin’ along to the tune way back when.  (Yes, I was young once, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding!)  For those who missed it, here’s a (possibly unwelcome) reminder of how the offspring of the mating of bubblegum music and disco could sound.

Yes.  Well.  Moving right along . . .

I was astonished, early this morning, to read a post on MeWe by my friend Michael Z. Williamson.  (I can’t link to it here, unfortunately, because MeWe doesn’t provide direct post links.)  Mike provided a link to a version of the song by German “comedy rock” group Knorkator, who are probably worth an article in themselves, as Wikipedia notes:

The band was founded in 1994, but only played in the Berlin/Brandenburg area until 1998.

Knorkator gained further fame (and some notoriety) in 2000 with their performance of Ick wer zun Schwein (sic; literally, in Berlin dialect, “I’m turning into a pig”) in the German national qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest. After the qualification show, German tabloid BILD notoriously headlined “Wer ließ diese Irren ins Fernsehen?” (“Who let these lunatics on TV?”).

Quite so!

At any rate, the group has added a very (very!) strange version of “Ma Baker” to their repertoire, and perform it at German rock gatherings.  I guess it’s best described as “thrash metal meets disco”.  Here’s the version to which Mike provided a link.  Warning – once seen, you can’t unsee it!

Yes.  Well.  Poor tune!  From Tunisian folk song, to disco, to . . . whatever that was!

Oh, well.  Just to show that disco can also go over the top from time to time, here’s Boney M with their hit “Rasputin” (off the same album as “Ma Baker”.  Yes, I bopped along to this one, too!  This live performance is from the Discoteka 80 festival.  Looks like a good time was had by all . . . although those dancing chest muscles are . . . !!!!



  1. Knorkator is… yeah.
    We don't talk about it, we just listen to some of their very good songs while ignoring the rest.

  2. I have never understood why having people dancing on the stage in costumes makes the music better or more fun to listen to.

  3. Yeah, well you should consider that German sense of humor is sometimes a bit strange for audiences from over the big pond…
    Knorkator are actually nice guys with a bit of Monty Python's sense of absurd which they push to maximum in their musical expression…

  4. That was awesome,just reliving those tunes brought back good memory. Thanks Peter. What a wacko band Knorkator, but the remake of Ma Baker was fantastic.

  5. "Yes, I bopped along to this one, too! "

    …and THAT, my friend, was what made disco so popular back in the day. It was music you could dance to.

  6. I'd never heard this song before. I guess it was because I was in the underground Air Force at the time. No AM-FM radio there. Them Norkators sure do their weird shtick good.

    That Diskoteka 80 Moscow video struck me as a flashback from the LSD I never took.

  7. Thanks for those videos. Both of them are great.

    Boney M is due for a critical reappraisal like ABBA underwent. They're often dismissed as light pop, but they wrote some great music. Two of the best-selling singles in UK history are theirs: "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" at #7, and "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" at #11. Though I think Rasputin is their most perfect song.

    (I'm not saying that Boney M is on the same level of greatness of ABBA. But their best 5 songs might still be popular 1,000 years from now.)

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