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January 30, 2008

Future is Now!

Nina Hagen's Nunsexmonkrock is one of the great albums of the early 1980s. I always assumed that her wild vocal shifts (from Exorcist-style growls to angelic soprano passages) were made possible by multitracking in the studio. But no -- a search for video footage of Hagen in performance shows that she could get that dissociated-personality effect live.

Here she is in 1980, doing an inspired cover of a David Bowie song:

Interesting commentary on some of her early records here.

Posted by smclemee at January 30, 2008 8:43 PM


A little like imagining a Thousand Year Reich of creepily sexy freaks instead of satanic racists... throw in a little Klaus Nomi and the image is complete! (And just at the moment she looks like something on a mountaintop, bathed in light, she pulls a clown face: perfect)

Posted by: Steven Augustine at January 31, 2008 10:10 AM

Makes you wish there was some sort of Hagen boxed set. Though Amazon does have a double CD of Nina Hagen Band *und* Unbehagen. :)

Posted by: Richard at January 31, 2008 10:19 AM

Yeah, she's like a cross between Nomi and Bjork, except Hagen was there first. She must have been a big inspiration for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

I've watched this clip half a dozen times now and love it more each time. And Rich is quite right -- the difficulty of finding anything but Nunsexmonkrock here in the US is insane.

What can be done about this? Any ideas?

Posted by: Scott McLemee at January 31, 2008 10:43 AM

Well, you could always come here and happen upon her daughter sauntering out of a restaurant (as I've done more than once)...

PS: to "happen upon" someone isn't as pleasurable as it sounds. Sadly.
PPS: Scott, if you're *serious* about wanting more Hagenstuff...

Posted by: Steven Augustine at January 31, 2008 12:58 PM

I wouldn't want to hang around her (she seems kind of scary) and can't even imagine what having her as a mother would have been like. But go see her perform? Absolutely.

By the way, I just checked the Borders catalog to see what by Hagen is available -- not much, it seems -- and noticed that Nunsexmonkrock is supposed to be re-released next month on CD, for $6.99. That's a good sign.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at January 31, 2008 1:29 PM