Oct 052008

Newcomers to the hallowed Hall may sometimes become a bit disoriented by the frequent, peculiar insider-ism in the RTH vocabulary. Thankfully, there’s a handy Glossary to keep you nodding your head in understanding, if not necessarily agreement.

One term you’ll see thrown around here is “mach schau.” Fans of the Beatles will remember that German rock and rollers would frequently shout this admonition to “make show!” at the boys during their marathon, pill-and-booze fueled performances at the Star Club in Hamburg, to get them to work harder to entertain the audience. Lord knows the Germans have been wrong about a lot of things over the years, but that was one thing they got right. They knew that a weedy young band of precocious — if nascently talented — upstarts needed a swift kick in the ass to realize they still needed to *work* for their supper.

Around these parts, “mach schau” is sometimes used as a noun: “I’ll tell you one thing — Van Halen has a hell of a lot more ‘mach schau” now that Diamond Dave is back”; sometimes an adjective: “I like Stereolab just fine — I just wish they were a little more, you know, ‘mach schau.'” But the principle is the same as it was at the Star Club in 1962: Make show!

Anyhow, this late addition to the RTH glossary is really just an excuse to publish an extremely compelling vuh-deo by an artist who does a stellar job illustrating just what the heck we mean by this term. I used to love this song when it came pouring out of the jukebox at the embassy pool, and, 35 years later, I like it even more, now that I’ve seen it delivered with a *shitload* of “mach schau.”




  14 Responses to “Mach Schau!”

  1. Halloweeny!

  2. 2000 Man

    Thanks for clearing that up. I thought it was something like that, but I’m not that big a Beatles fan. I think I have those old Star Club shows on Pickwick Records somewhere. I don’t remember liking them much, but maybe I can hear someone yell that.

    That’s an awesome video. I remember seeing it on an old lat night horror movie show around here. That flaming hat is something else, but I think it makes him dance like John McCain.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Produced by Pete Townshend!

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for adding this one to the Glossary, Hrrundi. For those of you who’ve never browsed the RTH Glossary in its full glory, you can find it here:


  5. BigSteve

    Admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of mach schau, but I don’t think make-up, spasmodic writhing, and props are good examples of the concept. I always thought this song was lame, and Brown’s adolescent take on the dark side just looks comical now.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Has anyone ever heard a second song by Arthur Brown??? I have not, and this one song never made me curious to hear more.

    I’m with BigSteve on the disappointment with your example, Hrrundi; however, Mad Props for entering this helpful Glossary term! I was unaware of the term’s origin.

  7. alexmagic

    Having never actually seen Arthur Brown before, I’m glad to see this clip. I did not realize that he was a pioneer in the comic book rock genre that Alice Cooper, KISS and others would later explore. I like the whole Dark Shadows/Manos: The Hands of Fate vibe.

    That said, if this is to be the official Glossary entry for Mach Schau – which is definitely a worthy term and one of my favorites up there with holstering and Rock Iwo Jima Poses – I think that live 1967 Sam & Dave clip that HVB posted here once should be included for posterity.

  8. dbuskirk

    You should track down Artur Brown’s Kingdom Come records; the self-titled one is pretty great proto-prog, with some of the earliest drum machine sounds on record. The songwriter is actually pretty strong, he’s got stuff as memorable as “Fire” if not as memorable as the Fire Helmet. Setting your head on fire is inescapably attention-getting.

  9. BigSteve

    This seems to be the original source for the term, an interview with the Beatles filmed by the BBC in Manchester in 1963, right when they were first starting to hit it big in the UK:

    GEORGE: “Actually we’d been at it a long time before that. We’d been to Hamburg. I think that’s where we found our style… we developed our style because of this fella. He used to say, ‘You’ve got to make a show for the people.’ And he used to come up every night, shouting ‘Mach schau! Mach schau!’ So we used to mach schau, and John used to dance around like a gorilla, and we’d all, you know, knock our heads together and things like that. Anyway, we got back to Liverpool and all the groups there were doing ‘Shadows’ type of stuff. And we came back with leather jackets and jeans and funny hair– maching schau– which went down quite well.”


  10. dbuskirk

    I just re-checked my shelf, it’s Arthur Brown’s third Kingdom Come album, THE JOURNEY that I’d recommend. He may not be an undiscovered genius but he’s definitely more than the novelty act you might expect.

  11. I have the album that “Fire” is on — I think it might be Charity’s, actually — and it’s not bad. There’s a tongue in cheek aspect to it, very much akin to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who I suspect was a major, major influence.

    Fun fact: in the ’80s, Arthur Brown co-owned a house painting business in Austin with, of all people, Jimmy Carl Black the Indian of the Group.

    If you ever want to hear an absolutely dead-on pisstake of Arthur Brown and that whole ilk of “shamanistic” proto-prog, check out “11 Mustachioed Daughters” by the Bonzo Dog Band.

  12. A side note: The first time I heard We’re Only In It For The Money I swore that Jimmy Carl Black the Indian of the Group was really Michael Nesmith. I’ve always loved that “interview” between Nez and Frank that preceded one of those last Monkees episodes. “I’m popular, you’re just dirty, gross, and ugly.”

    Then Zappa “machs schau” on that car.


  13. junkintheyard

    I came across this a few weeks ago and had a blast laughing at Arthur. It has since been taken down for copyright reasons. Pity

  14. Mr. Moderator

    Bastards! Arthur Brown and his copyrights holders should be thrilled that anyone cares. We’ll try to find a clip that the lawyers have not wiped clean and replace it for future generations to enjoy. Mach Schau!

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