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David Hasselhoff is best known to American audiences as the hunk hero of Knight Rider and Baywatch, two TV shows that relied upon props to hold their respective audiences' attention. (For Knight Rider it was a talking car; the lifeguard series offered busty girls in tight red swimsuits.) Baywatch became an immensely popular series around the world and Hasselhoff has branched out in the meantime to a singing career with remarkable promise. In Germany and Austria he has godlike stature. Just look at the sales figures if you disagree.
Hasselhoff's 2004 album Sings America revisited the "Knight Rider Theme" in glorious fashion, sparking thinking worldwide that perhaps the show could have gone on for eight or nine seasons if the car had just sung instead of talked and Hasselhoff had been cast in its role instead of Michael Knight's. It also brought themes like "California Girls" and "Amazing Grace" new spunk and verve. With Swings Krautland, he turns toward his core audience without apology, drawing upon culinary, automotive, and romantic themes that are sure to get those young Teutonic hearts a-throbbing once more.
"Farfignugen" gets the wheels rolling with an oblique reference to Volkswagen's '90s advertising campaign, but Hasselhoff redoes the classic in a bossa nova style. (In the liner notes he says this is his way of openly acknowledging Brazil's key role in keeping up Beetle production during the model's waning years.) A story of bratwurst and sauerkraut comes up well done in the steamy "Brat Munchen," which overlays a full brass band on a shuffling blues guitar pulse. Hasselhoff has never sounded this hot and he knows it.
Listeners who may suspect that Hasselhoff has sold out will be relieved to know that he's included a couple of jazz standards on Swings Krautland, and his backing trio swings like hell on these numbers. The fact that he sings in lightly accented German on "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Polkadots and Moonbeams" does not lessen their romantic impact one bit.
Sort of like Sinatra meets Connick in extra-tight lederhosen, this swinging collection is being released in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria on April 1. Expect Stateside ripples to follow any day.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.