One of the interesting things you’ll find when crate digging in Berlin is a lot of records put out in the former East Germany, which makes sense since Berlin was literally a city divided for over 40 years. Kleeblatt № 22 – Hard & Heavy is one such record, a dozen hard rock/heavy metal songs from three different East German bands – Plattform, MCB, and Cobra. I uncovered this gem at an outdoor flea market. I knew I was paying over the going price, but it was early in the trip and I was intrigued. It was a tad dirty, but it cleaned up great on my Okki Nokki and the sound quality is surprisingly good.
It’s hard to imagine hard rock/metal being played behind the iron curtain, but the proof is right here on this record. Hell, the bands even had the looks down (see below), Plattform looking like Scorpions clones, Cobra like they walked off the hair metal scene on the Sunset Strip, and the denim-clad MCB channeling early Metallica and Motörhead, which is impressive because dressing like this seems like it would have been a great way to attract the attention of the Stasi. Ve have vays of making you talk. Clearly, though, the kids in East Germany were hip to what was happening in the West, because while I don’t read German the liner notes on the reverse clearly call out a number of big-name bands like AC/DC, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, and it literally also refers to “… des New Wave of British Heavy Metal…”, so the label (Amiga) was making direct comparisons to their Western counterparts.
I wasn’t expecting these three bands to be that heavy, but you know, they’re pretty decent. The female-fronted Plattform is somewhere between hard rock and 80s hair metal; a bit dated, but something that would have been right at home on rock radio. MCB bring a blues element to their style of hard rock, grittier, dirtier, and less polished than Plattform. Their song “Eisenmann” flat-out rocks. As for Cobra, they’re definitely trying to channel some Iron Maiden here, and not in a bad way, the music is fast and tight, the vocals soaring, and the guitar work on “Träumer” shreds.
Kleeblatt № 22 – Hard & Heavy was a pleasant surprise – good bands, good sound quality.