Cologne’s Club Moroco was a window into the many different styles of music that Germans were getting down to in the early ‘80s. The space was open between 1982 and 1986 in Hohenzollernring, and what distinguished both the club interior and its crowd was an overwhelming penchant for opulence. In contrast to the gritty post-punk counterculture that simultaneously rose in popularity throughout the country during this time, Club Moroco’s style was flamboyant, and the young people who partied there dressed up to display class, wealth and elite taste.
But aside from Moroco’s defining aesthetic, perhaps what most differentiated it from other clubs across Germany was its status as the preferred off-duty hangout for Kraftwerk. Carol Martin—who is credited as the CGI artist on their Computerwelt album—was one of the club’s resident DJs. Here, he guides us through Club Moroco’s signature sound and how it was connected to the epic Kraftwerk canon that ensued.
James Brown, “It’s Too Funky In Here” (Polydor 1979)
“Everyone from Kraftwerk to Miles Davis seemed to be inspired by James Brown. Bootsy Collins, whom Kraftwerk also cherished, started his career with Brown, and the song ‘Boing Boom Tschak’ is a tribute to Bootsy’s concrete bass.”
Earth, Wind and Fire, “Fantasy” (CBS 1978)
“Funky, emotional and still wonderful to dance to. I went to see them with Kraftwerk by invitation of the concert promoter Fritz Rau at the Phillips-Halle in Düsseldorf. It was a magnificent show with perfect sound and effects, and halfway through the show, the band’s bass player was hanging 20 meters up in the air.”
The Gap Band, “I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)” (Mercury 1979)
“Danceable songs were typical at Moroco, and hits like this one could be played any time. There was a nine-minute extended version of it that the DJ could play while he ‘washed his hands and powdered his nose.’ When he returned the floor was still packed.”
Zapp, “More Bounce To The Ounce” (Warner Bros 1980)
“Zapp and Roger were great. They were produced and mentored by George Clinton—as were the Red Hot Chili Peppers. ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’ is a tribute to Clinton’s P-Funk family.”
Fingerprintz, “Wet Job” (Virgin 1979)
“As a DJ at Moroco, you had to insert stylistic breaks like these in your sets to keep up the tension. It was difficult to schedule this ahead of time since you had to observe and direct the mood. You could mix ‘I’ve Seen This Face Before’ by Grace Jones with ‘Numbers’ by Kraftwerk, for example. It was a perfect match!”
Read more: 10 of Cologne’s most important musicians
Published December 21, 2017.