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The Cosmic Jokers - Galactic Supermarket CD (album) cover


The Cosmic Jokers



3.70 | 87 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Krautrock guru Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser's bid to save the world through music and LSD reached critical mass with the Cosmic Jokers project in the mid-1970s: a series of informal jam sessions packaged and sold without consent from the musicians involved. Or so goes the accepted legend, disputed by at least one participant: Manuel Göttsching of ASH RA TEMPEL, who later claimed he always had a contract and did in fact receive token royalties (he also said there weren't any hard drugs involved).

Sounds to me like a retroactive whitewash. On the other hand, it pays to be skeptical these days, and who can really say how much of the Cosmic Jokers myth is Internet-Age hearsay: another web-fed rumor with a viral life of its own?

The only sure thing about the whole messy episode is the music left behind, in many ways a goldmine for Krautrock anthropologists and armchair astral travelers. The first Cosmic Jokers album (all five were released in a single calendar year) remains a certified kosmische classic, but some of that magic was conspicuously missing the second time around. Obviously the highlights of the studio jams plundered by R.U. Kaiser were reserved for the first LP; this one is a little more fractured and episodic, presented (like much of the best Krautrock) in a pair of monumental side-long tracks but assembled with less underpinning or purpose.

Still, enough momentum was carried over to ensure a good trip. The album opener "Kinder des Alls" leaps immediately forward on the strength of Manuel Göttsching's distinctive psychedelic-blues guitar, played in a more recognizably rock-based manner, up to a point anyway, before the music gradually collapses and coalesces elsewhere. WALLENSTEIN's Jürgen Dollase is a stronger presence on this album, with his heavenly mellotron chords and cascading grand piano pushed forward in the mix, often overpowering the desultory synthesizer outbursts from Klaus Schulze.

The title track holds together with a little more coherence, thanks in large part (once again) to some heroic riffing by M. Göttsching (keep in mind 'coherence' was always a relative measure with this group...) And for the first but certainly not last time on a Cosmic Jokers album the stoned whispers and shrieking of Kaiser's girlfriend Gille Lettman (aka 'Starmaiden') can be heard, as always through several layers of echo effects, for that maximum lysergic headrush.

The truth about what actually transpired at the Cologne studio of Dieter Dierks may never be known. But when considering the balance of the Cosmic Jokers catalogue this much is obvious: after the second album R.U. Kaiser should have quit while he was ahead.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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