Herman Brood is part of the best that rock music in The Netherlands has ever produced. Shpritsz is arguably the best Dutch rock album of all time. A tribute to this important 1978 album and that other album from the same year, Cha Cha, which showcases the live experience of Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. 40 years ago Brood-mania conquered The Netherlands by storm. America would soon follow…
Herman Brood was born on November 5th, 1946, in Zwolle, The Netherlands and died on July 11th, 2001, in Amsterdam. He was a Dutch singer, painter, piano player, actor and author and became the national ‘cuddle-junkie’ of The Netherlands: he was sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll.
His musical career started in 1959 when he took piano lessons. In 1964 he became part of the beatgroup The Moans. Around that time Brood got slipped the occasional pill to keep awake. The beginning of a lifelong addiction to amphetamines (speed in particular). In 1967 he became a member of world-renowned Dutch (blues)pride Cuby and the Blizzards, but got kicked out by the record company upon learning of his drug use.
Without the music Brood quickly slipped into crime. Burglary and drug trafficking and, as a consequence, jail. His addiction made him in need of a score and thus in need of money. Apparently, a life of crime seemed the only way out. Some sources state he also worked as a porn actor for a while.
From 1974 onwards Brood turned to music again and, eventually, met Koos van Dijk in 1976. Van Dijk was the owner of bar ‘t Pleintje in Winschoten, The Netherlands. Brood played there and was in dire need of his syringe. Van Dijk immediately helped Brood finding it. From then on Koos van Dijk (renamed Coach van Dijk) was Brood’s caretaker, manager, ‘enabler’ and friend. The relationship would last (a short period of time excluded) until Brood’s death.
Brood founded Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. The name Wild Romance stems from a line in Lost Mind, a song by Mose Allison: and I lost my mind in a wild romance, someone who Brood admired greatly.
In 1977 the album Street was released. The Wild Romance was not fully operational, yet. He used session musicians/friends like Jan Akkerman (known from Focus fame). Street was turned down by a lot of record companies, because working with Brood was deemed a risk. Ariola Benelux was the one willing to take the gamble. Street was moderately successful.
Underway to Shpritsz
The classic line-up of The Wild Romance was formed in November of 1977: Dany Lademacher (guitar), Freddie Cavalli (bass) Cees “Ani” Meerman (drums) supplemented with The Bombitas (backgroundvocals).
Recordings for the album took place at the Relight Studio’s in Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands. At the time it was one of the first studio’s in the world that had a 24 track recorder installed. Brood and band were impressed. Maybe even more when they found out that the studio was a former porn studio, where a lot of German porn movies had been shot.
The band worked fast, focused and professional. Playing and recording was done in a live-setting. Within just a few days all the basic tracks were put to tape. It is not entirely clear, but it seems that the voices were largely recorded later. The credo was to record everything two times and pick the best out of those two. A great idea, because what is potentially lost in technical perfection, is gained in passion. All recordings were done in one week.
On May 19th, 1978, Shpritsz, the second Herman Brood & His Wild Romance album, was released. The album contains 15 songs and ‘only’ lasts 37 minutes en 25 seconds. Short songs, generally high paced, delivered with a lot of energy.
This album signaled Brood’s breakthrough in The Netherlands. Everywhere Brood showed his face, it turned into chaos. The popularity was immense. The album quickly turned gold and platinum.
Remarkably though, the first single, Saturday Night, was not that successful at all. Nowadays it is regarded as one of the best songs within the entire history Dutch pop music.
But not everybody was happy. Particularly within the establishment there was resentment. How could it be that this ex-criminal, burglar and junkie, who glorified that life in songs like Dope Sucks and Rock & Roll Junkie, proved to be so popular among the Dutch youth?
The idea for the album cover as born when Brood, wearing leather pants, stood in front of a television set. The reflection made for a great image. Brood wanted that look for the cover. After a photoshoot with photographer Anton Corbijn, Dick van der Meijden made the album cover.
The title Shpritsz resembles the German word: “spritzen”. It can refer to the shooting up of drugs (using a syringe) or to male ejaculation.
All songs written by Herman Brood, unless stated otherwise.
|Champagne (& Wine)||‡|
|Back (In Y’r Love)||†|
|B||R & Roll Junkie|
|*||Dany Lademacher, Herman Brood|
|†||Herman Brood, Pé Hawinkels|
|#||Alan Walden, Otis Redding, Roy Johnson|
|$||Dany Lademacher, Pé Hawinkels, Herman Brood|
|‡||Erik Strack, Herman Brood, Hugo Sinzheimer, Rommert Boonstra|
|^||Herman Brood, Rommert Boonstra|
|¥||Erik Strack, Hugo Sinzheimer|
|§||Dany Lademacher, Herman Brood, Laurie Langenbach|
|±||Gerrit Veen, Herman Brood, Pé Hawinkels|
- Freddie Cavalli – bass
- Cees “Ani” Meerman – drums
- Dany Lademacher – guitar
- Herman Brood – piano, vocals
- Bertus Borgers – saxophone
- Robert Jan Stips – keyboards
- The Bombitas (Monica Tjen A Kwoei & Floor van Zutphen) – background vocals
But why is Shpritsz such a good album then? Well, albums that just fit, do exist. Everything gels at a unique moment in time, when the right people come together and create magic. Shpritsz is born out of such a moment. The atmosphere that runs through the entire album is great, which is the major step forward compared to predecessor Street, as far as I’m concerned.
The musicians are very good. With the exception of Fatal Flowers in (19)80’s, there has never been a Dutch band that was that good live as The Wild Romance in their prime. The band had international allure.
With songs like Saturday Night, Dope Sucks, Doin’ It and R & Roll Junkie the album contains 4 classic Dutch rock songs. To realize that the rest of the songs are equally as good, is almost mind boggling. Seemingly appearing out of thin air, a world class Dutch album had been made.
According to manager Koos van Dijk, Brood was worried that young people would follow his example with regards to his drug use and decided to write Dope Sucks, an anti-drug song. It’s ironic that it’s that song in particular, that would contribute to Brood’s drug-image.
On the other hand, it’s not that surprising. In a March 12th, 1978, broadcast of Dutch television show VARA’s Wonderland Brood is followed. Also in the train, where Brood publicly exhibits his drink and drug addiction. He snorts cocaine in front of the rolling camera’s. Brood was very fond of the media attention. He always was very upfront, or at least gave that impression, about his addictions ad preference for (young) women.
Within the same year (1978) Brood releases another album: live album Cha Cha. It was released at the end of the year (the exact date is unknown). The album started appearing in the charts within the first weeks of January of 1979. The album went gold and platinum.
The songs on this album were played during the Shpritsz tour, which was started immediately following its release. Herman Brood & His Wild Romance played everywhere, in community centers, discotheques, youth centers, halls, local bars and café’s. Everywhere they went the same thing happened: Brood and band played their highly energetic set at a cut throat pace (I read somewhere that band members blamed that on their use of the amphetamine speed). The band was in great great shape and perfectly tuned into one another.
Cha Cha is a (shortened) representation of a couple of those shows. In the liner-notes it states that recordings were made at Relight Cafe, The Pinge à Linge, The Pedo Ville & The Too Far Gone Discotheque.
But, are those locations correct? Well, no. In 1978 a competition was opened in a radio show by (Dutch) disk-jockey Felix Meurders. The lucky few to win, would be transported to an undisclosed location to witness a special show by Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. They and a lot of, unplanned, hangers-on went en route to the Relight Studio’s in Hilvarenbeek.
In the studio a stage was built. Herman Brood & His Wild Romance played their live set to the frenzied crowd. Upon hearing the recordings, the audience was inaudible. The live-vibe was barely noticeable. In a local record store many live-albums were listened to, in search of ‘audience’ sound. A Ten Years After record was picked. The audience sounds of that record were, rather crudely, mixed into the Herman Brood recordings. I would love to hear the raw recordings.
The cover for this album was also made by Dick van der Meijden.
All songs written by Herman Brood, unless stated otherwise.
|True Fine Mama||$|
|Rock ‘N Roll Junkie|
|One More Dose||‡|
|Can’t Stand It||§|
|*||Dany Lademacher, Pé Hawinkels, Herman Brood|
|†||Dany Lademacher, Herman Brood|
|#||Paul Smeenk, Bertus Borgers|
|‡||Herman Brood, Hugo Sinzheimer|
The same musicians who played on Shpritsz, played on Cha Cha as well. Two exceptions: Robert Jan Stips did not play on Cha Cha and Josee van Iersel was hired as an extra background vocalist.
Cha Cha was so successful that the record went gold within the first week after its initial release. In Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, the gold record was handed to Brood on January 25th, 1979, by bank robber Aage M. Did Cha Cha really get to gold status that quickly? As it turned out, no. It was a publicity stunt, concocted by Coach van Dijk: “We had round stickers with Cha Cha made. We glued them over the label of the gold LP for Shpritsz and took it to the couth house in Leeuwarden. All of Holland was convinced Cha Cha was gold upon release”.
Was Cha Cha released in 1978 or 1979? It didn’t enter the charts before the third week of 1979.
As far as I can piece together the year of release was indeed 1978. This is explicitly stated on the back cover of the LP. After Brood’s passing the compilation album The Box – My Way was released. Songs from Cha Cha are mentioned with 1979 as the copyright year. I stick to the original LP release as being true. The fact remains that the recordings most definitely took place in 1978.
This was the first album from Herman Brood & His Wild Romance that I owned and I completely adored it. Dany Lademacher’s great guitar work, Bertus Borgers’ sax, the energetic Bombitas and the driving rhythm section. Absolute world class band. It swings, grooves and ruthlessly thunders on at an insane pace. No unnecessary solo’s, no ego’s, just pure rock ‘n roll. Herman Brood & His Wild Romance in top form. Cha Cha is my personal favorite.
In 1979 a curious single was released by De Breedbekkikkers (i.e. The Broad-Billed Frogs), right around the time of the yearly Dutch festivities called ‘carnaval’ (a sort of carnival, but less entertaining). A single in Dutch with the title Maak Van Uw Scheet Een Donderslag! (i.e. Turn your fart into a thunderstroke!). Herman Brood and members of The Wild Romance turned out to be behind the single. In the Dutch pop music television show Toppop a clip was shown. The man wearing the large frog’s head was none other than Herman Brood.
The same year a single was released by Dutch television personality Sjef van Oekel: Nooit Meer Terug Naar Die Rotschool (i.e. Never Again Back To That Wretched School), a collaboration with Herman Brood.
Cha Cha the movie
In 1979 a lot of effort was put into the movie Cha Cha, which also contained a soundtrack. Brood contributed a big (and important) part to its music. A lot of other contemporary Dutch acts like Phoney & The Hardcore, The Meteors, Dulfergang and White Honey participated as well.
Cha Cha (the movie) is a rock ‘n roll “story”, combining fantasy with reality in regards to the phenomenon of Herman Brood. He is at the pinnacle of his career, surrounded by (international stars) Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich.
The movie itself is incoherent and not quite good. Lene Lovich, for example, plays the part of a political activist, whose true intentions are hidden behind an artistic mask. Well…
In the movie Brood gets married to the German punk-operasinger Nina Hagen. The gutter press saw the images, but wasn’t aware of the movie yet, and splashed the marriage all over their covers.
Unlike the movie, the music was great. Particularly Herman Brood & His Wild Romance deliver great songs, like I Love You Like I Love Myself, Doin’ It, Beat and Never Be Clever in steaming live versions. The cooperation between Herman Brood and Nina Hagen is very amusing.
The movie and its soundtrack are completely separated from the live album Cha Cha.
Germany and France were interested and enlarged the market for Brood and his band. In 1979 Brood left for a tour of the United States. A special release for the American market fared pretty good. At first, the original Shpritsz cover was replaced by a woman’s backside in satin pants, later by a black & white photo of Herman Brood. Saturday Night received a sort of disco do-over and the lyrics were altered. The original lyrics were deemed too violent for the American market.
Saturday Night lyric differences
| The neonlight of the open all night
was just in time replaced by the magic appearance
of a new day, while melancholic reno
was crawlin’ on his back
We had to hit him to the ground
| Beautiful soulmusic
chirpin’ out of the jukebox
Chicks dressed to kill
surrounded by the boys like bees on the honey
Just digging sounds
© 1978 Dany Lademacher & Herman Brood
The American visit looked promising. Many people found their way to the shows and Saturday Night received quite some airplay. However, at the defining moment, a showcase for important American record company executives, Brood was too nervous (or too unprofessional, it’s all in the eye of the beholder). He took too much drugs and was essentially unfit to play. So, no success then. I remember Herman Brood returning to The Netherlands from America. It was October 15th, 1979. Schiphol airport was completely stuffed with fans. His return was even an item on the 8:00 PM news on the Dutch national public television station!
The classic line-up of The Wild Romance remained intact until October 1979. Up till then the hits grew ever bigger: Still Believe, Never Be Clever and I Love You Like I Love Myself. The albums Shpritsz and Cha Cha went on to gold and platinum status.
In America Brood had let himself talk into replacing The Wild Romance with session musicians for the album Go Nutz, which was released in 1980. It was universally criticized. After two failures in a short amount of time, Cha Cha the movie and album Go Nutz, Brood’s career imploded. Just as soon as Brood-mania had blossomed, it had vanished.
Brood did keep on releasing albums, among which 1982’s Frisz & Sympatisz, an album I personally liked quite a lot. But the true holy flame seemed to have gone. All force was used in 1978, and whatever was left in 1979. Musically, Brood had said everything he wanted to say.
Brood spent ever more time painting. Following in the tradition of Cobra, Brood created an enormous body of work. Because he was color-blind, he mainly worked with primary colors.
He painted simple, recognizable scenes with big color shapes. He used paint rollers, templates and oftentimes texts. His trademark signature was a vital part of each painting. He painted a lot and even slept in his art studio. He often used his work to settle his accounts regarding liquor and/or drugs.
His paintings were a success. His work got exhibited at galleries and museums. But he didn’t get the respect for his work. Probably because his output was so high; he saturated the market. Just as was the case earlier on with his music and the gutter press, now it all happened again, with his paintings. It is just too much (and therefore less exclusive?).
More and more, Brood turned into a society figure, who did a lot of talkshows and made bold statements. He reveled in the attention he got. When daughter Lola Pop Brood was about to be born, Brood never left the house without a life-size doll to “prepare himself” for his upcoming role as a father.
On September 9th, 1996, Herman Brood and Salvation Army soldier Majoor Bosshardt were guests at Villa Felderhof, a Dutch television show where two Dutch public figures spent a few days in a villa in the South of France. This particular episode was watched by many people. The aged Bosshardt gave Brood a bath and soaped him up (thoroughly). The two connected and the epsiode had some genuinely moving moments.
To commemorate Brood’s upcoming 50th birthday, the compilation 50, The Soundtrack is released. Next to a small number of new songs, the album consists of re-recorded (Brood) classics, performed by Brood and friends and colleagues.
On November 5th, 1996, the day had arrived: Herman Brood turned 50. Many, Brood included, had assumed he would never reach that age. In Paradiso his birthday was celebrated with colleagues and friends. Nina Hagen was also present. The event is broadcast live on the radio and all major news programs have items on the birthday. The Dutch music station TMF is there throughout the evening.
Brood grew ever more eccentric and toured through the city of Amsterdam on his scooter. Whenever he buys clothing, he asks if the anti-theft pin can stay attached.
Unfortunately, in the end his addiction to alcohol and speed caught up with him. He turned into a sad figure. He tried his best, but Brood was no longer Brood. The theater tour with writer Bart Chabot and poet Jules Deelder was aborted in 2000. His speech got ever more incoherent, he walked around with a (live) parrot on his head and looked increasingly neglected and unhealthy. After a report in magazine Nieuwe Revu of November 22nd-29th, 2000, in which the consequences were named and described (such as incontinence and epilepsy) during a holiday on the island of Aruba, it was clear for all that Brood didn’t have much time left.
He himself knew that too and wanted to protect himself from more pain and suffering. On July 11th, 2001, at 1.28 PM he jumped from the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. He was 54 years old. In his trousers a goodbye note was found:
Xandra & all cuties, this speed in stead of burning out which I leave to the cremation. … Race through life like I did… and don’t be sad ! have a party. I will be seeing you some time. I am going bungy without elastics. Mercy – daddy. DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS.
Much like his life, his funeral turned into a spectacle. At the Amsterdam Paradiso, The Netherlands said goodbye to the greatest rock star The Netherlands had ever known. What stuck with me the most was the speech of daughter Lola, 16 years old at the time, who stated “He didn’t want to die ordinary. That also had to be grand. At first it startled me. Now I understand. I often asked you to drink less because that would be better for you. Now I understand that that was impossible…”. Lola Brood’s incomprehension and the wish to call her father’s act “brave”, made the service intensely sad and, to me anyway, rather inappropriate.
After his death
The record company released Herman Brood’s version of My Way as a single. It spent three weeks at the top of the charts: Brood’s only number 1 hit. Herman Brood was cremated in Westgaarde, Amsterdam and his ashes were buried at Zorgvlied, Amsterdam. The angel on top of his memorial stone wears an anti-theft pin.
After his passing good friend Bart Chabot finishes Brood’s biography. At the time of his death the books Broodje Gezond (1996) and Broodje Halfom (2001) had already been published. With the publishing of Brood En Spelen (2002) and Broodje Springlevend (2003), Chabot completes the series posthumously. A lot of the texts were read (and approved) by Brood.
Many things followed: exhibits, expositions, a theater show, a Herman Brood Academy, a musical entitled Chez Brood and a biography by his wife Xandra Brood (mother to Lola).
This year The Wild Romance was in the news again. The documentary Buying The Band appears. A businesman buys his way onto the stool of the drums in The Wild Romance.
With the passing of Herman Brood a unique life and career ended. Brood was internationally known. At a U2 show in 2001 Herman Brood gets a shoutout.
Of all the Dutch musicians and bands I saw in my early teens, it was Herman Brood I witnessed the most. Dozens upon dozens of times I saw him perform. The shows were always good. I never encountered Brood on a bad day. Maybe he didn’t have any in those days.
With Shpritsz Herman Brood and his Wild Romance have written a piece of Dutch music history. The album always ends up in the top 3, whenever there is a poll on the best Dutch rock record. We can only be thankful to Brood for that album and Cha Cha, the live album.
When I do my suicide for you, I hope you miss me too
© 1978 Rock ‘N Roll Junkie, Herman Brood
Herman Brood – Jail 1978 image: metronieuws.nl
Herman Brood 1974 image: gijsberthanekroot.nl
Herman Brood & His Wild Romance – Street, Shpritsz, Shpritsz – Innersleeve, Cha Cha, Cha Cha – Back cover, Cha Cha – 1978, Shpritsz – First and second American pressing, Cha Cha (soundtrack), Go Nutz, Frisz & Sympatisz and 50 The Soundtrack images: discogs.com
Herman Brood – the classic Wild Romance line-up image: inenomassen.nl
Relight Studio’s Hilvarenbeek image: hilvariastudios.nl
Herman Brood – Live 1978 and Herman Brood – Schilderijen images: pinterest.com
Herman Brood – VARA’s Wonderland 03/12/1978 image: youtube.com
Herman Brood & His Wild Romance – Cha Cha – Recording session Hilvarenbeek 1978 image: zing.demon.nl
Herman Brood – Rockpalaßt – Live 1978 image: mig-music.de
Herman Brood – Cha Cha – Gold record 1979 image: bartvanleeuwenphotography.com
Herman Brood – Nooit Meer Terug Naar Die Rotschool & Maak Van Uw Scheet Een Donderslag! image: dutchcharts.nl
Herman Brood – Marriage to Nina Hagen image: robscholtemuseum.nl
Herman Brood – Signature image: stips.nl
Herman Brood & Majoor Bosshardt – Villa Felderhof – 1996 image: dekluizenaar.mimesis.nl
Herman Brood – Funeral Paradiso 07/16/2001 image: 50jaarparadiso.nl
Herman Brood – My Way image: ebay.nl
Herman Broodsteeg – Amsterdam image: harryknipschild.nl
Herman Brood – Message 07/16/2001 image: unknown