The Formative Years – Pogar Records and Vinyl Boogie
As part of this series, I will cover quite a few labels that have had an impact on my socialisation with punk rock, however, the releases of Pogar Records have had an unrivalled influence that reverberates to this day.
Vinyl Boogie was the physical storefront and mail-order based in what back in the day was one of the more adventurous parts of West-Berlin, i.e. Kreuzberg, which was affiliated through the owner to a label that coined German punk rock, especially during the first half of the 1980s. An epicentre and source for exciting and interesting punk and hardcore. The fact that the local clientele looked the part, i.e. studs and spikes galore and everything else that would be depicted in a dictionary to illustrate in a visual manner the concept of a cliché laden stereotypical punker.
Pogar Records had its focus firmly set on releasing 7”s, except for a singular 12”, and I dare you to find a sub-par release in their back catalogue.
It was not until the earlier 1990ies that I first got to hear Harnröhrer through an older comrade who recorded their “Manchmal hab ichs satt” EP on a mixtape for me. Originally released in 1982, the songs epitomized exactly what I would hope for from a punk band from West Berlin. It got me hooked after the first spin and sent me on a determined mission to find out more about the band, the label it was released on as well as its other releases.
It set me on a path that rewarded me with findings of some of the bands that have remained favourites to this day, e.g. the fantastic Honkas, whose 7” I was able to find in the same year in mint condition for 6,- Deutschmarks.
Every song on the Honkas debut was quoteworthy and congruent with how I perceived punk rock had to be, i.e. obnoxious, minimalistic, rebellious, snotty and lyrically with teenage musings on how life starts at the age of thirteen and effectively ends with 20 and righteously claiming that anyone who considers living past that age, is an idiot. The fact that the band never got the recognition it deserved only added to the appeal.
Next up was Malinheads “Probegepogt in Spandau”, a release that was musically quite advanced as it entered hardcore territory without falling prey to copy the disharmonic trash contemporary Finnish hardcore bands emitted.
Their second 7” was also Pogar Record’s last release in 1987 and in-between the two, one of my favourite records of all time was released: Vorkriegsjugend’s “Heute Spass – morgen Tod”. To this day I literally everything about this release – the format (double 7”), the artwork, the lyrics, the brutal vocals and the quite advanced, fast paced musical aggression along with the underlying authentic anger that fuelled it.
The band spawned an array of epigones and established Pogar Records on international terrain, which explains why Vorkriegsjugend’s debut was re-released in South America as a 12” as well.
What followed were releases of other young hopefuls of Germanic descent who either debuted on the label or released their highlights there, e.g. Maniacs, the fantastic Brazilians from Olho Seco and what is still considered to be Germany’s first skate punk band (whatever that means – at least musically heavily influenced by West Coast melody core bands of the mid-80s) Disaster Area, who teamed up with the idiosyncratic Schlimmen Finger, who established themselves by bringing a bit of humour to illuminate the grim, and doggedly dogmatic hardcore punk scene.
After the release of the Disaster Area / Schlimmen Finger split I lost a bit of interest as American and Japanese hardcore became more appealing, but the label continued to release records by Marplots, Vellocet (ex-Vorkriegsjugend) and the final release by Malinheads, who bookended their own and Pogar’s career with their “Medical fame‘ 7” in 1987.
While there are a range of illegitimate re-releases and bootlegs popping up, I would recommend the official “Alter! Das Album” compilation LP from 1991 to anyone interested in checking out the highlights from the hey days of one of the most eclectic German punk labels, before delving deeper.