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Album Review

It would not be stretching the truth to say that Udo Lindenberg predicted the nature of the German punk beast as it sprang to life in the late '70s. Lindenberg himself, however, was never one to stick around to watch the damage he'd wrought. Born amid predictions of an aural apocalypse, Panische Nachte, the album that ushered in his vision of 1977, opens on an almost balladic tempo and only slowly picks up the pace, as a Thomas Kretschmer guitar slices into the chorus of "Mister Nobody," and the listener can breathe again — for a moment. The punchy and occasionally Stones-ey "Riki Masorati" and "Schneewittchen's stomping vision of early Tubes clashed with recent Queen are Panische Nachte's sole hard-hitters. Elsewhere, the epic "Der Sizilianische Werwolf" is one of Lindenberg's periodic dips into symphonic rock territory, five minutes of soaring textures, epic guitar lines, and relentlessly flowing lyrics. There's also the sweetly brief "Fliesenlied," which rolls along like a barroom singsong, but is little more than a prelude to the rock & rolling tribute "Teddi," a slice of affectionate dynamite that includes, albeit momentarily, one of the best German language Elvis impressions you're ever going to hear. More pastiche turns up on the sh*t-kickin' "Cowboy," and it all wraps up with "Flipper," a tender love song from the bottom of a bottle. Across the board, then, it's an unexpected record — or, at least, as unexpected as any album by the master of the sudden shock can be. Lindenberg has made better albums than this. But only a few are more enjoyable.

Panische Nächte, Udo Lindenberg & Das Panikorchester
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