Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kraftwerk-BREMEN RADIO 1971 CD-R (bootleg)

Yeah, the bootleg scene hasn't been that hotsy-totsy as of late (give or take TWELVE YEARS), but here's a really snat one that's come across my path only just yesterday thanks to the kind generosity of Mr. Imants Krumins. 'n not only that, but if you click on the above link (and have a little bitta computer savvy) maybe YOU TOO could be the proud owner of this brand-spanking-new boot cee-dee without paying the big buckskins that are usually associated with procuring these long-desired rarities guaranteed to make your heart (amongst other things) go "boom!" Who says we're living in a vast internet wasteland with such unforseen wonders as INSTANT BOOTLEGS at the reach of our very fingertips anyway???

So here it is (if you so wish), Kraftwerk live in 1971 right after their debut album was already corrupting impressionable young krauts to the height of collective mass guilt for the existence of James Last. Besides that, this ain't one of those Ralf Hutter/Florian Schneider efforts where they prance off into the outer reaches of minimalist space cantatas (nothing wrong with that mind ye!) nor their latterday electronic disco iceberg emotion style that fit in well with the post-Devo gang, but the now-infamous Hutter-less edition of the band when future Neu!-meisters Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger were filling in for the bespectacled one to amazing effect! And (as you'd already know from their "Truckstop Gondolero" video that was bootlegged all over the place these past ten years), they add to the German expressionist motif in a fashion that I (in retrospect) wished the Kraftwerkian infrastructure would have been permanently modeled on with their downright punkoid playing that coulda made Kraftwerk the Stooges of Germany if they tried hard enough! Too bad Hutter decided to come back to the fold with the Neu!-faction vamoosing and Kraftwerk hadda eventually get sandwiched into the dancerock/futuristic hoodoo pigeonhole, but at the time BREMEN RADIO was broadcast (7/25/71) Kraftwerk were perhaps at their pinnacle, presenting a pretty hard-edged variation of krautrock that I would say actually equalled the similar primitive garage band aural crankouts that the competition from Amon Duul II and Can to even the more addled groups of the land (German Oak come to mind) were putsching forth in relative obscurity.

The aural quality's immaculate (especially given the 35-year-old "maturity" of the source material) and the performance is so unlike the legit Kraftwerk offerings with Rother's rudimentary guitar and Dinger's "motorik" drumming dominating the sound (Schneider is pretty much mixed to the back) to the point where this group arguably ceases to be Kraftwerk and more or less ends up as a proto-Neu! effort I'm sure 75% of the kraut-loving British punk rock scene in '76 woulda slashed for.

The disque begins with an outta left field and totally-unexpected soo-prize called "Heavy Metal Kids," 'n although I believe this is one of those spurious bootleg titles that have misled many an ignorant neophyte over the years the name of this one really does fit the subject-at-hand. Remember that old issue of GULCHER where a then-unknown Thurston Moore referred to Suicide a "heavy metal Kraftwerk"??? Well, this Kraftwerk IS "thee" heavy metal, bub, especially with Rother's guitar doing the best primal thud that early-seventies metal was known and loved in the fanzine world for, sorta coming off like the daftest Tony Iommi wannabe cranking along with the cultured European school of minimalism that somehow seems to be plunging to the same depths of atonal despair as Sabbath etc. were around the same time. And don't tell me it was only a "coincidence"!!!

And what's really super about BREMEN RADIO 1971 is that there's only ONE previously-released number here, the once-well-known "Ruckzuck" which sure enough begins like the album version, but without Hutter's keyboards (and with Rother's guitar) the song veers off into a decidedly different direction sounding more late-sixties guitar psychedelia than early-seventies techno. (One of the best things about krautrock, like Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, punk rock and the best movements of our time, is that it was reactionary and hearkened back to past triumphs that were perhaps jettisoned way too fast from the memories of the pop-listening public of the day.) In fact, other than the (very) basic structure, there's really nothing here that compares to the more familiar take so it's "almost" like a totally different song at that!

The whole of BREMEN RADIO 1971 is like that...heavy-duty repeato-riff quasi-psychedelic rock which has a Stockhausen-bred sense of Teutonic order on one hand and Stooges-level dunce-thud on the other. A winning combination, especially on the final track (entitled "K4") where Schneider plays his violin with what sounds like a wah-pedal coming off more like Ron Asheton than David LaFlamme. Krautrock (in its best incarnations) always had that provincial soundwarpage to it, and if you think that late-sixties garage primacy and the European classic tradition could walk hand in hand, maybe BREMEN RADIO 1971 is for you. Anyway, if this one had gotten around back then, maybe groups like Kongress wouldn't've come off as such a shock.

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