October 27, 2018


Lots of chaos on the radar these days, and nothing spells chaos like MABUSE. The arch-villain Doctor Mabuse was created by novelist Norbert Jacques and popularized in a series of films between 1922-1971, most notably by director Fritz Lang. He was a master criminal, much like Fantomas, whose dedication to organized evil and undermining stability became, in the lore, an undying idea that lived on in the hearts of his followers. Dr Mabuse returned as a character in the 1980s in a single by avante-pop band, Propaganda. The group hailed from Dusseldorf and recorded under Trevor Horn's ZTT label in the mid-1980s. Spy Vibers may remember Horn from The Art of Noise. After relocating to the UK, Propaganda released a number of interesting projects, including a cover of Throbbing Gristle's Discipline and the acclaimed album, A Secret Wish (1985). One of the album's singles, Dr. Mabuse, charted in both Germany and in the UK and became a popular track on entertainment programs such as The Tube (1982-1987). The promotional video (version 1) for Dr. Mabuse celebrated the era of German Expressionist films, and it was one of the first video projects by Anton Corbijn- famed photographer for many 1980s/1990s bands (dubbed "Mr U2" by Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy) and director of The American (2010) starring George Clooney. Filmed in beautiful black and white at night, the Mabuse video featured the band members in cloak and dagger vibe, and none other than actor Vladek Sheybal (From Russia With Love, Secret Agent, The Baron, The Saint, Casino Royale, Billion Dollar Brain, The Champions, Callan, UFO) in the role of Dr. Mabuse! The video's rich imagery also recalls Fritz Lang's M and the hooded menace and secret societies of Edgar Wallace Krimi stories. The lyrics of the song warn: "The man without shadow promises you the world. Tell him your dreams and fanatical needs. He's buying them all with cash. Sell him your soul." Check it out below (and keep your eyes open). Read more about Propaganda member, Claudia Brücken. I was so fixated on the band when I first posted this today, I didn't think to mention that many of the actors in the later Mabuse films will be familiar to Spy Vibers: Gert Fröbe (Goldfinger, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Senta Berger (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., It Takes a Thief, The Poppy is Also a Flower, The Quiller Memorandum, The Ambushers), Karin Dor (Upperseven, You Only Live Twice, Topaz), Dawn Addams (The Saint, Danger Man), Peter van Eyck (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Werner Peters (Assignment K, The Killer Likes Candy), and Dahlia Lavi (The Silencers, Casino Royale, Some Girls Do). Thank you to Agent East for reminding me of the bigger picture! The music was the main draw, but it's fun to see this wider web of talent connecting our cultural touchstones. Speaking of music, my new radio segment for Cocktail Nation out of Australia will be up soon! Check out past episodes hereSpy Vibers, also please check out my new book (over 700 pages!) about one of America's most successful cartoonists. On other creative fronts, Spy Vibers might not know that I began exhibiting as a fine art photographer in the late 1980s. I haven't really shared that part of my life here, but readers might like to see some of my work on InstagramEnjoy!

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