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Guru Guru - Wiesbaden 1972 CD (album) cover

WIESBADEN 1972

Guru Guru

 

Krautrock

4.00 | 6 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Originally released in 2007, this kick-ass archival recording has now been re-licensed (in MP3 form) by the Berlin production company Play Loud! along with other Guru Guru performances from the 1970s and beyond. The gig itself, from April 1972, saw the band at an early apex in its long (and, at this writing, still very active) history, in a year that arguably marked the high tide of Krautrock iconoclasm.

Essentially, it's a live rendition of the classic Guru Guru album "Känguru", minus only the song "Immer Lustig". But the differences between the studio and concert versions are startling, and provide a far more honest portrait of a band renowned (then and now) as a vital live act. After hearing this set, don't be surprised to find the album that inspired it, which this reviewer awarded five unconditional stars, sounding more like a contractual afterthought.

Compare the track times here to the studio originals. In concert Mani Neumeier and company stretched the music to absurd and thrilling length, with colorful Hendrix-inspired jamming (note the recurring "Purple Haze" quote in "Baby Cake Walk") and near-telepathic stage rapport. Not surprisingly, the protracted grooves can often sound aimless, but never without purpose: a contradiction that somehow makes perfect sense with this particular trio.

And even with the not-much-better-than-bootleg quality of the tape, apparently recorded from the back rafters of a very large arena, it's still easy to be swept up by the energy, enthusiasm, and sheer musical joy of the performances. Neumeier and bassist Bruno Schaab (a recent replacement for ex-Guru Uli Trepte) are buried deep behind the echo-heavy mix. But it's primarily Ax Genrich's show anyway, and his indefatigable chops are all over the album, fearlessly switching from distorted electric guitar to comic-relief banjo midway into "Ooga Booga", while Mani Neumeier clicks and clacks a pair of ersatz castanets. Neumeier's drum solo, soon afterward, is a model of unrestrained economy: another plausible Guru Guru paradox.

The visual distractions of a live concert, typically a large part of the Guru Guru experience (judging from the occasional audience laughter here) are absent, of course. But the album sounds exactly like what it must have once been: one heck of a show, and the Play Loud! people deserve our thanks for bringing it back to life.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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