Neu! being German for New! Hero being the closest Neu! ever came to a proper song with lyrics and singing and everything. Meanwhile, at pretty much the same moment in time, somewhere across town, their former band mates Kraftwerk were perfecting what would come to be known as techno-music. So maybe call Hero a proto-form of punk. Beat simple and four-to-the-floor, everything else snarling melodically along until screaming to noise at the end. And the world would hear it one way or another, the times would change. And seriously, who better than some malcontent German hippies to call bullshit on the whole notion of heroism? Or whatever it’s about.
“I don’t often brag about specific albums I own. But holy sh**, how cool am I to have a mint 1972 Japanese pressing of Faust‘s So Far with 12-page booklet intact! And I paid less than ten bucks for it. Which would all be pointless blather if the music itself didn’t deliver. Which it does, So Far being an album of strange and extreme moods and sidetracks (some might call it noise) with It’s A Rainy Day Sunshine Girl either a #1 pop hit in another, cooler, far weirder and better universe (where Faust really were The German Beatles) , or just a long brash walk along a certain razor’s edge – where genius actually touches stupidity, but it never falls in, even when the saxophone finally arrives past the six minute point, out of tune, of course.” (Philip Random)
“I think of Bogus Man as where Roxy Music would have gone if Brian Eno had never left: to stranger, deeper, more evocative realms, while great hordes of confused hippies looked on from darkened streets, still coming down from that long strange trip known as the 1960s. Which is rather what was going on anyway with Roxy in their early years, strutting like peacocks through a world full of pigeons. As it was, Bryan Ferry had other ideas for his band, and it’s not as if Mr. Eno didn’t go off and invent the future anyway. Which he’d be the first to say the Germans were already doing. Can in particular without whom we would never have heard the likes of Bogus Man.” (Philip Random)
“I first heard Kraftwerk‘s Computer World at Michael’s place. A sort of slimy guy that we used to buy dope from back in the late 70s, early 80s. He lived in a high rise near English Bay, always had the stereo on loud, usually playing shitty soft rock. Except this one time, a beautiful day, sun glowing in off the bay – it was this cool machine music. Kraftwerk, I would’ve guessed, except Kraftwerk weren’t around anymore, were they? A couple of gimmicky robot records back in the mid-70s and then back to Germany. I was right. It was indeed Kraftwerk, still cranking out the future. I was wrong. They were anything but a gimmick. Suddenly, I had a pile of exploring to do.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard Heroes a million times already. But have you heard the German/English edit that showed up on the soundtrack for Christianne F, the most depressing movie ever? There’s just something about what that complex language does to Mr. Bowie’s delivery, the deeper, more wrenching depths of soul and enunciation, how it gets you right to the heart of what was then still a divided city – two opposed universes of politics and animosity grinding up against each other. Forever. Or so it felt at the time.
Two in a row from Nektar‘s 1971 conceptual spectacular Journey To The Centre Of The Eye, one of those albums that absolutely walks the line between so-called prog rock and so-called psychedelic rock, managing to be both mindblowing and reasonably precise. Frank Zappa was certainly impressed, so much so that he had plans to sign Nektar to his Discreet label, a plan that crumbled along with Zappa’s partnership with his manager (one of those long stories). Which perhaps explains why we never heard that much of Nektar over here in the Americas. Or maybe their first album was simply their best – an astonishing and ultimately harrowing voyage to the deep and high beyond within. In other words – an acid trip, the heroic kind, right through the centre of the eye to the dream nebula and beyond, all in the mind anyway.
“A nifty little almost pop song from the group known as Can about who knows what? Including the singer, I’m pretty sure, Damo Suzuki from Japan, hanging out in Germany, trying to work in English, ending up inventing his own dadaesque language. A song about whatever you want it to be about, I guess, although I’ll go with my friend Thomas’s interpretation. It’s about that dissipated feeling you get when you’ve wasted all your precious vril energy on rich, yet pointless pleasures. But the music’s there to revive you, like the potion it is, alchemical and true.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1969 with the Euro hippie underground is in a state of serious flux and eruption in the wake of all the uprisings and insurrections of 1968. Nevertheless, Can (four German weirdoes and their American singer, poet, frontman who will soon go at least slightly mad) find a few moments to throw down a strange little ditty about the Upduff family and their troubled trip to Italy. WARNING: if your grandma dies while traveling in a region populated by well organized car theft rings, don’t wrap her up in a tarp and tie her to the top of the car.
“In which angular German hippies Neu! do their bit to invent punk a good three or four years before the fact. Of course, I wouldn’t discover Neu! until at least ten years later, so for me, they had more to do with providing an overall blueprint for the future of everything. Just lock that beat and lay down some music mixed with noise, because we’ll always need a beat, and there will always be noise, and music just makes everything better.” (Philip Random)