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Guru Guru - Känguru CD (album) cover


Guru Guru



4.06 | 130 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Studio album number three from Mani Neumeier and crew is now regarded as Guru Guru's career peak, and after my own late exposure to the unpolished charms of this early Krautrock power trio I'm not about to argue. Their previous LP ("Hinten", 1971) has been described elsewhere in these Archives as a diamond in the rough (and it was indeed very rough, in places), but here the same gemstone was given a not-unwelcome spit-shine, hardly resembling the same band at first exposure.

What happened, to make this session so different? Maybe producer Conny Plank was exerting a stronger than usual influence over the group, in effect transforming the crude trio into a more refined quartet. Certainly his (uncredited) keyboards and auxiliary guitar work enriched the Guru Guru sound considerably.

Or maybe the band decided to follow through on the epiphany of "Hinten", on which they discovered that a radical political mindset didn't have to lack a sense of humor. Look at the track titles here, and listen to the music: "Immer Lustig" roughly translates as "Always Funny", and they weren't kidding. The subterranean ganja riffing of the album opener "Oxymoron" isn't as oxymoronic as it sounds, and the extended thrash in the middle of "Ooga Booga" is one of the most joyful Krautrock power jams ever caught on vinyl.

The big difference was that the irritant factor of their first two LPs had all but disappeared. Ax Genrich (an awesome name for a rock guitarist, by the way) toned down his 10-penny nails-on- concrete playing style, while still managing to approximate the sound of a titan's dirty fingernails scraped down a cosmic chalkboard. The influence of Jimi Hendrix can still be heard ("He's my most important inspiration!" gushes Herr Genrich in the CD booklet notes). But I don't recall Hendrix ever straying quite so far from his blues roots, or singing in a style recalling Michael Palin portraying Mr. Gumby.

(...a quick digression. By openly acknowledging their debt to Hendrix the band contradicted the accepted Krautrock myth of musical isolation from English and American role models. In truth, without the good example set by Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, and Jimi Hendrix, there would not have been any Faust, Ash Ra Tempel, Can, or Guru Guru...)

In awarding the album five stars I'm choosing to interpret the ProgArchives rating guidelines with latitude. "Känguru" may not be a classic of Progressive Rock, but it's classic Guru Guru, and arguably the apex of what would eventually become an absurdly prolific discography. The iconic cover art alone is worth an extra half-star, and anyone who disagrees can go take a Baby Cake Walk.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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