Udo Lindenberg / Das Panik-Orchester

Sister King Kong

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An album as ambitious as the double gatefold sleeve that accompanied the original German release, Sister King Kong is a concept album documenting the trials and tribulations of a rock & roll superstar -- a grindingly dull idea by modern standards, but all the rage in the mid-'70s, and executed here with such panache that you can almost feel Lindenberg's tongue sticking out of his cheek.

It opens with "Die Buhne Ist Angerichtet," one of Lindenberg's patent gentle sing-songs, a cracked voice rising above a rolling bass and a keening keyboard, all of which is suddenly transformed into a pomp rock extravaganza as guitars scream, percussion boils, keyboards howl, and, just when you think you've heard it all, a baby cries and you're into "Emanuel Flippman und die Randale-Sohne," a thunderously theatrical rocker that makes Meat Loaf sound like last week's leftovers. Unfortunately, such a powerful beginning is not maintained -- too much of Sister King Kong is driven by the lyric, with the music apparently added in the aftermath of watching Rocky Horror once too often. The lurching neo-funk title track is fun, though, while "Jenny" will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the first Gruppo Sportivo album, and the closing "Rock'n'Roll Arena in Jena" is a reminder of the divide that once hacked Lindenberg's homeland in two. Rock & roll isn't always about "Super-Groupies" and the death of the "flower-power-hippie-Woodstock" euphoria, after all. Sometimes it touches things that really matter.

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