The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Music "Der Kommisar" by Falco and After the Fire

I remember both versions when they hit MTV, you know the station that used to play music during the 80's.  Well I did like both songs, I remember one of the MTV VJ's I think it was Mark Goodman that told us that Falco wrote the songs, but After the Fire version was more popular.  I guess it was due to the vagaries of the American market.  Well I always associated the songs in my teenage mind with the "Commisar" as it related to the Soviet Union and the communist system.  In that system, the Kommisar directly represented the party and the face of the party to the average Soviet citizen.   Funny how my mind worked.  I suppose even back then I hated communism and what it represented.  

"Der Kommissar" is a song first recorded by Falco in Austria in 1981, covered a year later by After the Fire. Originally written by Robert Ponger and Falco, the Falco version reached the top of the charts in many countries.
After the Fire's version featured English lyrics by the band's Andy Piercy. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

"Der Kommissar" ("the commissioner" or police captain) was originally written by producer Robert Ponger for Reinhold Bilgeri. Bilgeri turned it down as he felt the song was too soft, so Falco reworked the song for himself instead.
Falco wanted to release "Helden von heute" as the main side (A-side), but the record company wanted "Der Kommissar" to be released, because they felt it had more potential. The record company decided upon a double A-side release and was vindicated when "Der Kommissar" reached No. 1 in German-speaking countries in January 1982. After this success, Falco's management decided to release "Der Kommissar" (as an A-side) in other countries as well.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, Falco's hit didn't fare as well, despite topping charts throughout Europe and Scandinavia during spring and summer 1982. In the summer of 1982 the British rock band After the Fire recorded an English version of the song, also called "Der Kommissar", and released it as a single, but the record floundered. Coming off a tour opening for Van Halen, After the Fire was working on material for a new album when in December 1982 the group announced onstage during a concert that they were disbanding. Both the After the Fire and Falco versions were rising on the Canadian charts at the time, but neither had cracked the US pop charts. Around that time, American pop singer Laura Branigan began working on her second album, and recorded a new song written over the melody and arrangement of "Der Kommissar", called "Deep in the Dark", which was prepared for release, when the After the Fire version finally hit the US charts (Hot 100) on February 22, 1983, and started rising. Though the UK band's version barely nicked their home country's Top 50, in 1983 the song ultimately rose to No. 5 in the US, where their music video was an MTV hit.
The song entered the American Top 40 on March 5, 1983, peaked at No. 5, and remained in the Top 40 for a total of 14 weeks. The single was released under the Epic label, with a catalog number of 03559. Amidst all this renewed attention to the composition, Falco's own version, which had done well in some US markets but not charted nationally, was re-released, but the German-language record remained essentially a novelty hit there, charting concurrently with the After the Fire version but not rising above No. 78.
In Canada, Falco's version had peaked at No. 11 the same late-January week that After the Fire's version peaked at No. 12. After the Fire's record company, CBS, pleaded with the band to regroup, but to no avail. While UK promos for "Deep in the Dark" were pressed (the After the Fire version missed the UK top 40 and the Falco version didn't even chart there), Branigan's record company, Atlantic, officially released "Solitaire" in the U.S., where that song went to No. 7.

"Der Kommissar" / "Helden von heute" is a double-A-side single by Falco released in Austria and Germany in December 1981. "Der Kommissar" reached the top of the charts in many countries. The song recorded for other side of the record, the pop-rock "Helden von heute" ("heroes of today"), is a tribute to David Bowie's "Heroes". It was recorded in Berlin, Germany; Falco claimed in an interview that he went to Berlin to follow the "tracks" left there by David Bowie, with his albums "Heroes" and Low.
In the official music video for "Der Kommissar" released in the United States, Falco flees from the police, with several police cars in the background. Another music video for the Falco single released in Europe also exists.
"Der Kommissar (The Commissioner)" only reached No. 74 in the US Cash Box Charts in 1983 and did not even chart in the UK, but Falco would break through with major hits in those countries two albums later, with "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Vienna Calling" in 1986. Updated remixes of "Der Kommissar" were released by Falco in 1991, 1998, and posthumously in 2008.
 After the Fire Version
After the Fire (or ATF) are a British rock band that transitioned from playing progressive rock to new wave over their initial twelve-year career, while having only one hit in the United States ("Der Kommissar") and one hit in the United Kingdom ("One Rule For You")


  1. I always liked both versions. About two decades ago I went to a yard sale and bought a huge box of vinyl EPs for $5.00. In it were the extended dance versions of both "Der Kommisar" and "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco. It just happened that the previous owner was a former club DJ in the area. A lot of other great, extended, period tunes in there by New Order, The Cure, etc. Sweet find.................

    1. Hey Tom;

      That is really cool, I have found some real cool treasures cruising yard sales.

  2. Wow, I knew I was 'busy' in 82, but I never heard of him OR the songs... sigh

    1. Hey Old NFO;

      I will do a song from the late 80's early 90's REM "It is the end of the world as I know it and I feel fine" in honor of the impending apocalypse.