Charlie and His Orchestra

One of the lesser know theatres of World War Two was the Battle of the Airwaves and the leading exponents were the Nazi's radio producers of the Reich’s Propaganda Ministry in Berlin, whose short-wave radio broadcasts from Reichssender Berlin took many forms. Whilst Lord Haw-Haw remains the most infamous voice heard on these Nazi air-waves, The Lutz Templin Orchestra of Charlie and his Orchestra fame was, broadcasting to the outside world, perhaps one of the most widely listened to!

Working directly to Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, a team of top composers & lyricists set about parodying well-known American Jazz, Blues & Swing classics of the day and specifically penned, first anti-British & anti-Semitic lyrics, thence anti-American & Soviet broadsides, which Propaganda Ministry linguists would then translate into English for broadcast.

Whilst ‘Charlie’ in the title was believed to be famous German crooner Karl Schwedler, (who was allowed to travel throughout occupied France, Holland & neutral Sweden, to collect examples of the latest Anglo-American music, banned in Nazi Germany), it was band co-leader Lutz Templin who was the driving force behind the parodies’ musical arrangements.

Though the band line-up changed regularly between 1940 & 1945 as many of its German musicians, (drafted into the Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS Musikkorps), were replaced by Belgian & Dutch musicians from the Occupied countries, Templin’s continued influence could be felt as the band performed in Berlin and then, as the Allied bombing of Germany intensified, relocated to continue broadcasting on short-wave radio, or Kurzwellensender, in Stuttgart from the Summer of 1943.

As the war raged on, so the skits parodied different events & countries involved in the war effort, but the songs never lost their distinctive feel of 1940’s war-time radio and this superb 16-track collection of clever English lyrics, ranging from the funny to the vitriolic, offers some stunning Nazi Propaganda Swing classics including:

United Nations Airman - I Double Dare You - Miss BBC - Daisy - A Pocket Full of Dreams - Why’d You Make Me Fall in Love? -Siegfried Line - Elmer’s Tune - Dinah - Sheik of Araby - Picture - ‘Bye ‘Bye Empire - Black Out Blues - You’re Driving Me Crazy! plus, at Goebbels’ insistence, two poignant Lale Andersen vocals on Under an Umbrella and Lili Marleen. which, sung in English, were specifically aimed at capitalizing on the home-sickness many Allied servicemen posted overseas would already be feeling…!

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