Julian Cope — Krautrocksampler
(Head Heritage 0952671913, 1995, TPB)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-02-01
The British publication Krautrocksampler is here in its second edition. Running to 143 pages, it sports a few photos, and comes trimmed with sundry color reproductions of record covers from the period 1968-73.
The book is divided into four chapters. First comes a pre-history piece in which the author sizes up the "zeitgeist" of West Germany in the late 60s. We are then treated to a history of "Krautrock" and its progenity in the famous record labels: Ohr, Brain, and Kosmische. This is perhaps the most informative part of the book, and reveals a clear understanding and familiarity with the subject. Furthermore, everything in here was news to me (and doubtless many other people), so it is great to finally have the story in English of these events. Part three covers the fledgling years of Faust, Neu, Can, Amon Düül II, and Tangerine Dream. Again, you will be in for some very enlightening reading, and definitely learn a lot. However if you are sensitive to vulgarity and profanity in print, be advised — there is an abundance here, and pretty much everywhere else as well.
In part four Cope reviews his top 50 favorite albums of the genre. Making up the bulk are the aforementioned names, along with some early Klaus Schulze and Cluster as well. Appropriately this is the most subjective section in the book, and yet it reveals that he can write very decriptively, delving deeply into the soul of the music. His analysis casts a light on the krautrock world that exceeds a mere fascination with the superficial elements of the music. Rather, he illustrates it with metaphor in a way that I found very unique and interesting.
Unfortunately this is also where we run into trouble (for me anyway). Because anything that doesn't conform to the aesthetics of krautrock's youth era is sent through a meatgrinder and mercilessly vilified. (Even Henry Cow gets a slap on the wrist.) But if this music is so amazing, then it need not be so virulently defended by slagging off ELP, Genesis, etc. It comes across as sour grapes. I had to grit my teeth in order to justify his attitude, desperately trying to focus only on the book's virtues. But in my weakness I was constantly distracted and flustered by these unnecessary remarks. At times it felt as though the spirit of Lester Bangs had risen from the dead just to give me one last swift kick for bad behavior.
As a paean to early German experimental rock, aimed at dyed-in-the-wool fans of that period, Krautrocksampler works well. But it's likely to alienate fans of other progressive styles, or listeners whose taste for krautrock extends beyond 1973. Nevertheless it nowhere claims to represent the be-all and end-all complete encyclopedia of German rock. This is one man's interpretation of the music and era he loves. If you aren't sensitive to some heavy duty opinions then buy it, and judge for yourself.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more