It defies categories. It's a horrible noise. It's cut-ups to the Nth dgree. Part of it is just like Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy (the funny bit, thank the Goddess.)
Krautrocksampler – by Julian Cope.
A book of wisdom. A treasured book, a mighty book, a book that everyone should own. I could stop right here, actually, you know my views on Krautrocksampler; all that remains is that you go and purchase it (at time of writing criminally only available on e-bay, but as we are all affluent people, I implore you; go on, treat yourself).
You still there?
Well, seeing as you are all so well behaved today, children, I'll continue my tale.
As if you haven't guessed by now, I'd better explain that Krautrocksampler is a book that comprehensively denotes a history of the main protagonists involved in the startling musical explosion that happened in the German music scene between 1968 and 1974.
Thus, you the reader will not only be able to discover the stories of the great bands (T-Dream, Amon Duul 2, Can, Faust and Neu!), and lesser known acts (cf. Cluster, Harmonia and Ash Ra Tempel); but also delve into a fabulous social and underground musical history that really makes the hairs on your neck stand up at times. Histories that surround such organisations as the Cosmic Jokers label are truly incredible. This particular one includes springing Tim Leary out of jail, mass orgies, psychotic drug-use, Tarot cards in Switzerland and lemonade. Oh, and mind bendingly brilliant music.
As well as the history lessons, Cope has decided to review his top 50 Krautrock lps for the benefit of the impressionable reader. And what reviews. Copey has obviously no time for the faint-hearted and languid music-trend grazers. Oh no. Check this snippet of his review of Faust's debut album.
"Four years ago I had dinner with a very successful journalist who told me he'd had to review Love's Forever Changes for Q Magazine now that it was available on CD. Wow I shouted. You lucky fucker. Yes, he said. But I know it so well I couldn't summon up any real energy, so I just gave it 8/10. Forever Changes is a dark achievement. Were it an ancient text on a document it would be hidden from view and spoken of in obscure circles. But because it operates through the medium of Pop Music it gets tarts like said Journalist giving it 8/10. This is a classic case of a man Sleepwalking through life. So now I have to set to and start telling you about the first Faust album and I will not let you down. For a start it's a big 10/10. No, make that 11/10. It defies categories. It's a horrible noise. It's cut-ups to the Nth dgree. Part of it is just like Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy (the funny bit, thank the Goddess.) It is super-gimmicky, syrupy in the weirdest places and never outstays its welcome."
The great thing about this book is the sheer unadulterated enthusiasm Copey has for this music; an enthusiasm that never fails to inspire. Indeed an enthusiasm that initiated a mass buying panic of old Krautrock vinyl 10 years ago. Now that (due mainly, it has to be said, to this book) most of the top 50 albums Cope listed are available on CD re-issue, it would be a mortal sin indeed if you did not, (after having read this book), possess at least two or three of the listed LPs. Just in case you were wavering, the splendid pictures of the album sleeves will make your mind up. Indeed -has any scene inspired a more consistently brilliant set of covers? – I think not.
Find, buy, read, enjoy.
Words: Richard Foster.