Udo Lindenberg

Phoenix

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Arguably, Udo Lindenberg's Anglo-American reputation rests on just three songs -- the brutal self-deprecation of "Germans," the violent denunciations of "Berlin," and "Americans in Europe," a club hit throughout the continent during 1986, and the still-stunning highlight of that year's Phoenix. Clashing "The Ride of the Valkyries" with a solid dance beat, a mocking lyric, and the regular interruptions of a host of American tourists ("how much is that in real money?" "damn, this place is old" and "is there a McDonalds around here some place?" are the best), "Americans in Europe" might not be the most politically correct celebration of cross-cultural interactions, but it's certainly one of the funniest. And, if you're on the dancefloor, one of the most compulsive. The remainder of the album, sadly, does its best not to overshadow the monster. "Darum Lieb' Ich Dich Noch Mehr" is a superbly propulsive rocker, and the epic "In Den Ruinen Von Berlin" has a sparkling decadence that lines it up alongside Lindenberg's Tom Robinson collaboration, "Tango und Der Wand." The closing "Wenn Die Sonne Hinter Den Dachern," too, is beautiful, a sleepy piano-led lullaby of the type Lindenberg excels at. But "Horizont" and "Sternenreise" are little more than dreamy ballads that would not have been out of place in Chris DeBurgh's canon, while "Say No" sounds scarily akin to a mid-'80s Rolling Stones space filler. But then you return to "Americans in Europe" and all is forgiven. "Doesn't anybody speak English around here?"

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