Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Der Kommissar" by After the Fire

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1346
Date:  02/12/1983
Debut:  75
Peak:  5
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock, New Wave

Pop Bits:  This British band formed in the early 70s and went through several personnel changes before deciding on a lineup that would record their 1978 debut album "Signs of Change." Their prog-rock sound attracted CBS and the band signed to the label. The band streamlined their sound, but over the course of three albums, they could only manage one UK Top 40 song. They went back into the studio to work up a new album, which was to include this song. In the meantime, CBS decided to compile tracks from the band's previous three albums for release in North America. This song got put on the LP titled "ATF." Released as a single, this song started to climb the chart in Canada before grabbing some attention in the US. Finally, in the spring of '83 the band found themselves with a Top 10 hit. For ATF, it was both good news and bad news. It was good that they finally had a hit, but it was bad because the previous December, they broke up! And to top it off, they did not want to reform. That left CBS with a hit single and no band to promote it or follow it up. CBS issued an older song from the compilation as the second single, but it barely scraped the chart. In the end, ATF became a one-hit wonder pretty much by choice.

ReduxReview:  Did I like this song back then? Nein! I wasn't buying into its staccato Euro-rap sound and chose to ignore the tune. Years later, I did developed a fondness for the song. It was the arrangement that finally drew me in. It does follow Falco's original (see below) closely, but ATF expanded on the sound greatly which I think is what made it such a hit here. I think it is far better than Falco's original.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is an English language remake of a song by German artist Falco. A track from his debut album, it was released as a single in 1981 and hit #1 in several European countries, but failed to get any action in the US. ATF member Andy Piercy did an English translation of the lyrics for their version while keeping the "Der Kommissar" part/title. Around the same time, Laura Branigan was prepping her second LP and recorded her own version of the song with completely different lyrics. Titled "Deep in the Dark," her label had visions of the song being a single (and even pressed UK promos) until ATF's version hit. After ATF's version started to take off in North America, Falco's version was reissued. It still couldn't do any business in the US, but it did get to #11 in Canada.


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