Humpe Humpe: 3 Of Us

Warner Bros. Records | US | 12" | 1985 | 0-20429

Warner Bros. Records | US | 12″ | 1985 | 0-20429

Humpe Humpe: 3 of us US 12″ [1985]

  1. 3 Of Us [Fun Girl 3 Mix]
  2. 3 Of Us [4 Your Club Mix]
  3. Yama-Ha
  4. 3 Of Us [Instrumental Dub]

This was a record that blindsided me at the local Peaches back in the day, while perusing [gasp!] domestic 12″ singles. I had never heard of the artist in question, but when I examined the record more closely, I saw two names that held some sway; co-producers Gareth [John Foxx] Jones and Roma [Laurie Anderson] Baran. Sold, American! That was enough data to have me part with my $4.98 easily enough. When I played it, I discovered it to be a perky synth pop ode to the fun of a mènage á trois with two people that the singer both loved.

The minimal synth bed was enhanced with lots of percussive filigree that was pretty far from the mark of what ca. 1985 synth-pop sounded like, thankfully! No gated drum sound here. I liked the B-side, “Yama-Ha,” even more. It was as delightful an homage to the makers of the dreaded DX7 as could be imagined, considering my antipathy for their hardware. The single was an intriguing harbinger of things to come, and it appeared to my eyes that Warner Bros. was pulling a German licensee into the American market just for my ears only. Even though the sisters Humpe [Inga + Anete] sang in English, the clear-eyed qualities they brought to the music, marked this as too European for those dreaded days of the Reaganoid middle eighties.

I eagerly awaited the album that this single trumpeted, but for the subsequent 29 years, I have yet to see a copy of the titular “Humpe Humpe” album. Only now, when hitting can I see that it ever made it out of the pressing plants here. What I did manage to buy was the “Swimming With Sharks” follow up album, which saw the sisters switching WEA arms from Warner Bros. to Atlantic. The CD I have of that title is a domestic pressing [!] but it is simply credited to “Swimming With Sharks” and I managed to grab an import CD3 of the single “Careless Love” in a used bin somewhere. That album was produced by Swiss tönmeister Armand Volker who managed to rope Thomas Fehlmann into the proceedings for this far from avant garde music. But that was years before I even became aware of Palais Schaumburg or even Marathon. My friend Ron Kane extols the Inga Humpe “Planet Oz” solo album as produced by Trevor Horn, but I’ve yet to find a copy.

– 30 –


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11 Responses to Humpe Humpe: 3 Of Us

  1. You should have saved this post for tomorrow, O Monk. Then it would be (wait for it) Humpe Day.


  2. Echorich says:

    Yama-ha is brilliant in that it’s built around a lyric which basically recites any and every electronic maker Japan has ever had – once this track is in your head, it’s hard to let go of it. I bet Trevor Horn fell in love wit them at this point. Memories, from the first albums is my favorite. It’s dark pop, but seems to still have tongue firmly pushed into its cheek. It actually reminds me a good deal of It’s A Sin by Pet Shop Boys. In fact I think the second album has a much glossier, PSB/Propaganda style production to it – which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing, but it was a calculated, change. Careless Love is a gorgeous pop song.
    Annette was in a NDW group Ideal which had potential and put out 4 albums of varying quality. Check out their tracks Berlin and Blaue Augen… Inga worked with DOF around the same time… Her Planet Oz album is quite listenable. Horn throws a few to many Seal style elements into the production, but it was 1990. To bring the PSB comparison full circle, Inga does a gorgeous version of their 1987 stand out b-side Do I Have To.


  3. stellaVista says:

    Oh, i was never aware that the humpe sisters made waves in GB and overseas.
    Anete was extremely successful with Ideal, while Inga fronted the similar but less famous the very early 80s.
    At the time Ideal was THE hippest band around. They were literally the first who made it cool to sing in German without being labelled as some horrid “Schlager” or “Deutschrock”.
    Maybe that´s why many shook their heads and turned the other way when the girls got together and made this streamlined, very commercial pop music.

    In the 90s they formed “Bamby” and released an album with streamlined trance/euro-house

    Both are still active and sucessful. Inga teamed up with her husband/partner Tommi Ekkert to form “2raum Wohnung” (two-room apartment). They really captured the Berlin-“zeitgeist” in the early 00s with stuff like “Wir trafen uns in einem Garten” (we met in a garden), “Sexy Girl” and “Ich & Elaine”. During the years they became extremely successful, but it can be argued that the ran a bit out of ideas in the process.

    Anete (I guess they really have a competitive thing between them) teamed up with a young black singer and as “Ich + Ich” they released a string of successful (but bland) german pop-rock.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      stellaVista – Thanks so much for your informative, native perspective on the long careers of the Humpe Sisterhood. I know the word Bruderschaft off the top of my head, and when I checked my translation widget for Sisterhood, I was surprised to see it returned …”Sisterhood” as the German translation. ? Back to the topic – I had no idea that Anete’s early band Ideal was the flashpoint of NDW! With my taste for NDW and pop, I should check Ideal out.


  4. stellaVista says:

    “Schwesternschaft” would be the correct translation,
    I guess Ideal were the first NDW band who were equally successfull and respected by the critics. When NDW became a mass phenomenon the quality dropped rather quick and even Ideal lost the plot a bit.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      stellaVista – Some movements were never intended to become mass phenomena!


    • Echorich says:

      stellaVista – I really enjoyed Ideal’s first records, but you could hear the “evolution” of their sound…everyone wants to make money at some point I suppose. I’ll have to check out the sisters’ more recent work, as Inga’s Planet Oz album is where I left off.


      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – It’s a shame that they have probably crossed many record label paths in their 30+ years of music, but imagine how interesting an Inga + Anete compilation taking all of their projects might be? It would cover much stylistic ground, eh?


  5. stellaVista says:

    In the case of NDW it was inevitable. It was the right time and people were hungry for it. Of course it has to be said, that NDW was such a broad umbrella. In the end it was enough to be as utterly obnoxious and reductive to get into the charts. When the old Schlager producers figured out how to jump on the bandwagon the whole scene went to hell and took all the amazing underground acts with them..


    • postpunkmonk says:

      stellaVista – Your comment reminds me of the mid 80s and the effect of film director John Hughes on a generation of British rock bands that all seemed to crumble to his will, much to their detriment. Your comments about Schlagermusik also remind me about OMD, who fabricated a kind of American Schlager with their top 10 hit “If You Leave.” Germany is their number two market and I get vexed by traces of Schlager that I can still detect in their recent music, which is compromised by this. I get the feeling that since the mid 80s they hedge their bets artistically to hit their perception of the pop market following the catastrophic drop of sales (90%) that happened when they followed “Architecture + Morality” with “Dazzle Ships.”

      For me, NDW was an honest, localized response to New Wave and Post-Punk for the German market. I’m guessing that watching the NDW story unfold as it happened was similar to seeing New Wave start in Cleveland and New York only to have it get watered down five years later with all manner of weak clone bands jumping the bandwagon after MTV started spreading the music that US radio stations never previously played. Some movements were not built for popularity.


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