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Swiss rock and pop heritage comes to life

Swiss pop group Yello attained international success in the 1980s (Swiss Pop & Rock Anthology) El grupo Yello en 1980, suizos que conquistaron el mundo. (Foto sacada del álbum)

The story of Switzerland's rock and pop history is being told for the first time in a new anthology consisting of 110 hits covering a period of 30 years.

Co-produced by swissinfo/Swiss Radio International (SRI), the five-CD set covers the period from the early beginnings of Rock’n’roll until 1985.

“We wanted to do something for Swiss musicians, to document Switzerland’s rock and pop past with modern methods,” said SRI director Nicolas Lombard.

The collection is a joint effort of the Swiss Society for the Rights of Authors of Musical Works (Suisa) and SRI.

For the first time, the songs that have been chosen for the CD set will also be available on the Internet, on the English-language website of

A working group under the guidance of musician Hardy Hepp sifted through thousands of songs to find the ones that helped define the sound of their time. “It was very difficult, but the winner is the spirit of Rock’n’roll,” said Hepp.

Rock’n’roll beginnings

“Swiss Pop & Rock” charts the history Swiss rock from its earliest days, when enthusiastic young musicians tried to imitate stars such as Bill Haley and Chubby Checker, to 1985, by which time home grown bands had achieved international success.

This anthology serves up the hits of internationally recognised acts such as Krokus, Double, Stephan Eicher, Yello, Les Sauterelles.

Progressive Rockers

But it doesn’t neglect others, not so well known, who set the tone for bands such as progressive rockers Krokodil, Toad and Tea, heavy metal legends Celtic Frost, avant-garde rockers The Young Gods and girlie band Kleenex/Liliput.

The selection contains a few surprises as well. Listeners will get to hear country artist Suzanne Klee serenading a 1960s pop tune, Anton Bruhin singing about sex and drugs in dialect and variety singer Peter Hinnen yodelling.

The anthology contains other rarities. The Hula Hawaiians serve up their brand of Fifties Rock’n’roll, Brainticket plays its feverish instrumental music, and dialect rockers Züri West supply a rarely heard live performance.

Re-mastered songs

The first 30 years of Swiss rock and pop have been squeezed into 370 minutes of playtime, short enough to fit in its five-CD box, and the collection has been split up thematically.

The roots of Swiss rock are covered in “Beat”, which takes listeners from the “Ye-Ye” sounds of Switzerland’s French-speaking musicians to the psychedelic overtones of the late 1960s.

“Rock” takes a look at the period that followed until the international heavy metal success of Krokus. “Wave” lends a voice to the punk movement and all those who followed in its footsteps.

“Pop” covers the earliest radio hits and the first mainstream successes. Finally, “Mundart” gives Swiss dialect musicians a chance to strut their stuff on the pop and rock stage.

The 110 songs on “Swiss Pop & Rock” were produced with latest technology and digitally re-mastered. The anthology also includes illustrated booklets in French and German, while further information on band line-ups and record data in English and Italian can be found on the website.

swissinfo, Samuel Mumenthaler and Peter Salvisberg

“Swiss Pop & Rock” is a five-CD set containing essential songs from the mid-Fifties to 1985.

It costs SFr87 ($62) in the shops.

The 110 songs give listeners 370 minutes of music.

The selection of songs contains hits and rarities from the Swiss music scene.

The “Swiss Pop & Rock” anthology is available from mid-January.

It can found in record stores or ordered by e-mail at:

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR