Guru Guru is a German krautrock band formed in 1968 as The Guru Guru Groove by Mani Neumeier (drums), Uli Trepte (bass) and Eddy Naegeli (guitar), later replaced by the American Jim Kennedy. After Kennedy collapsed on stage due to a serious illness, Ax Genrich replaced him to complete the classic Guru Guru line up, in time for their debut album in 1970.
Guru Guru were related to the free jazz music scene through their work with Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer and through Neumeier, who had already won several jazz prizes. The band was also influenced by psychedelic rock artists, such as Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Rolling Stones and early Pink Floyd.
Among the band’s closest musical colleagues were Amon Düül, Can and Xhol Caravan, with whom Guru Guru played jam sessions.
Frontman Mani Neumeier (drummer and singer) has an original style of playing drums, and is known in the European jazz rock-scene. He was also involved in numerous other projects, including Tiere der Nacht, The Psychedelic Monsterjam, Damo Suzuki’s Network, Globe Unity Orchestra, Harmonia, Acid Mothers Guru Guru, Voodootrance and Lover 303.
Guru Guru’s live performances in the late 1960s and early 1970s were politically left-oriented. They organized concerts together with the Socialist German Student Union, read political texts between the songs, and sporadically gave concerts in prisons. Their shows were extravagant and anarchistic, some of the musicians lived together in a commune in the German Odenwald region, experimented with hallucinogens (one of their songs is titled “The LSD March” / German: “Der LSD-Marsch”). Mani Neumeier is one of the organizers of the annual Krautrock-Festival in Finkenbach/Germay, Oberzent.
Guru Guru, 1973::
Guru Guru has released over 40 LPs and CDs, and has sold over 500,000 records. The band has played numerous live concerts, appeared in films, radio and television. In 1976, Guru Guru was the first German band to play live on the WDR TV show Rockpalast. (wikipedia)
And here´s their first album:
Now there is one album every parents must’ve loathed back then, especially if their kids were playing it. I can imagine the insults and other epithets thrown (such as noisy drivel or useless sonic nuisance) at this album from the pop critics to the music industry in general. And to think that the next one would even have buttocks as an artwork would’ve confirmed them in their opinions, but let’s face it this album was a complete and utter revolution for many more adventurous music fans. The group started as the Guru Guru Groove (the amazing Mani Neumeier on drums and the spirit of the double Guru, and Uli Trepte on the inventive bass) in 68 as a trio of free jazz and read texts. By early 70’s, their text-reader had gone and after many tryouts, the incredibly experimental axeman Ax Genrich was chosen and a few months later they recorded this aptly titled album, UFO, released on the legendary Ohr (Ear in English) label. Graced with a “flying saucer” the album warned us of more intelligent and advanced life and that this album would help us getting ready to meet it. And in some ways, this album does make you see life from a different point of view, and most likely from a better vantage point.
It may appear to today’s progheads that early Guru albums might just be jams sessions, but even if that were true, the sheer fact that this music was recorded and released back then, showed how much the group only cared about its own music without paying attention to chart success. Some might consider this a useless and worthless pile of rehearsal tapes (I’ve heard this opinion a few times from “music buffs”), but nothing could be further from the truth.
What we have in this album is one of the earliest examples of space rock, kosmische muzieke, wild psychedelia and an essential base to the Krautrock scene, even if it is not the most representative. Based on the live jams of Jimi Hendrix, a lot of Guru’s music just soars on ahead often reaching mayhem and redefining chaos. Indeed Stone In and the fabulous Girl Call (it sounds like she’s not calling but orgasming really) are coming almost straight out from Hendrix’s realm (thinking of Hear That Train Coming on the Rainbow Bridges soundtrack, here). Their mainly instrumental rock exudes energy, sounding sometimes like a three guitar Floyd (Saucerful-era) fusing the tracks together (have to pay attention when the next Dalai Lama track starts) in an intense and sometimes improvised dirty lo-fi rock.
The second side of the wax shows a different Guru with a definitively more spacey, spooky ambient guitar feedbacks (Genrich was obviously not afraid of blowing amp bulbs, and must’ve had loads of spare strings) where spaceships are boarding up, travelling through black holes and shooting asteroids out of their trajectory. While the title track may appear a bit lengthy and will not really stand numerous listens, this track is absolutely fascinating because mostly made of one guitar and its amplifier. The closing LSD March is another freak out most likely depicting the world where a certain Syd never really came back from. Neumeier’s drumming shines throughout the album.
Not necessarily better than it’s follow-up, UFO is one hell of al album that gets the ever-essential title of historically and musically important and influential. Clearly this is the kind of album that either met marvelled disbelief and implacable attraction, or complete misunderstanding and utter repulsion. For this proghead, and even if it has not aged that well, obviously the first option was the good one.(by Sean Trane)
Ax Genrich (guitar, effects)
Mani Neumeier (drums, vocals, electronics)
Uli Trepte (bass, electronics)
01. Stone In 5.43
02. Girl Call 6.21
03. Next Time See You At The Dalai Lhama 5.59
04. UFO 10.25
05. Der LSD-Marsch 8.29
Ax Genrich – Mani Neumeier – Uli Trepte
These photos were taken at a public carnival party at the Königsplatz,
Munich/Germany in 1971.
They are the first photos I took of rock music.
50 years later, they see the light of day here for the first time.