Thursday, April 03, 2008

KLAUS DINGER, 1946-2008

Y'know, it's kinda funny (or maybe not so) but back when Neu! were first creating their motorik clank groove during the early-seventies days of krautrock glory their name meant about as much to me as Virgil Sims'. Of course I didn't know who they were at the time, me being more preoccupied with such pressing things as comic books and general paranoia to notice or care, and if I had I probably would've written 'em off as a buncha longhair flower children anyways and believe-you-me back then I've seen more than my share of 'em! Even during my early pseudo-krautrocky discovery days a few years later I can't say that I could even recall seeing a Neu! record in the bins...the Amerigan issue of the first 'un on Billingsgate (the same label that raked in mucho metallic money with Lucifer's Friend and Scorpions) was nowhere to be seen, and frankly I don't even remember laying eyes, let alone hands, upon the English United Artists version with the familiar white color now an orange-ish red and liner notes from none other than Nik Turner in order to lend a little connective credence to this issue. Oh yeah, I heard the Neu! name uttered in hushed tones by certain members of the late-seventies "rock-oriented electronics" brigade, but that was hardly enough for me to pick pennies off the sidewalk and save up for a copy of any of their discs, if I could only find 'em. Frankly, the only real impetus for me wanting to hear the group dates from '80 when I picked up the final issue of BOMP! magazine and read Steven Braitman's review of Chrome's HALF MACHINE LIP MOVES which mentioned how those San Fran weirdies borrowed from the best garage bands like the Velvets, Mothers (?), Can (!) and Neu! which I gotta say piqued my interests, me at the time being one of those wild eyed garage punk rock & roll fanatics you still tend to read about on occasion. It would figure that a rock catchphrase like "garage" would be the thing to make me notice these guys, but back then those selfsame catchphrases sure meant a lot more to my bugged bean than they do almost three watered-down decades later!

But anyway I'm sorry to say that Klaus Dinger, the punkier half of the Neu! team is now gone, dead from heart failure last March 19 only the news got out just yesterday perhaps in an attempt to avoid a general mass panic. Naturally his death is not enough to get the "hip" upper-echelon rock press all agog just like they would if one of their heroes like Joni Mitchell croaked, but for seventies undergroundy buffs like me it sure does mean a lot and the news just hits ya right here (pound fist in breadbasket to emphasize the pain you are experiencing o'er such a distressing item) just like it did when all of your other faverave rockism acts passed on to probably even worse things like we knew they would. And as far as class acts go, who could doubt that Dinger was just about the keenest one you could find on the German expressionistic front...crawling out of the same late-sixties Dusseldorf scene that beget Kraftwerk, Dinger can be heard drumming on their debut platter and seen along with future partner Michael Rother putzying around with Florian Schneider on BEAT CLUB in '71! This was just before the two struck out on their own, creating three albums jammed with interesting avant garde peculiarities mixed up with a good punk rock thrash that still sounds fresher'n alla the hippoids pretending to be punks you've been glomming for the past two decades. After the final (at least for the time) split in the mid-seventies came Dinger's new band La Dusseldorf which continued on the NEU! '75 path for at least their epochal first album before traipsing into a more new wave treacle that still's worth an occasional once-over before getting filed away until the mood hits you once again in a few years. And then again there are all of those wild nineties-era Dinger projects that most people seem to consciously want to avoid that Captain Trip was issuing (but I find what I have heard rather exciting), as well as that mid-eighties Neu! reunion that I must admit I liked enough to play maybe twice through, but let's not heap a lotta nasty memorials upon a great like Dinger the same way TIME and NEWSWEEK love to dig into deceased conservative types in order to pump up their own sense of moral superiority! Dinger's surviving output only goes to prove that he was a true rocker even if he did get lumped in with the sometimes brainiac krautrock legion, and let me once again go out on a limb and say that his passing sure means a lot more to you and me than that of all of those eighties hardcore punques who might have talked the talk but sure needed a cane if they wanted to even attempt to walk any walks.

In closing I thought I'd once again post the clip of the puffed-up '75 version of Neu! doing "Hero" just to remind you of what a great act they were, and what kind of frenzy these guys who were for the longest time considered a "studio" band could whip up in front of a live audience. Dinger sure looks cool as the guitar-wielding punk and the rest of the group (save Rother, who still comes off early-seventies longhair beardo) seem to be taking the glam look about as seriously as any self-respecting New York act of the day. Enjoy this one again for old time's sake, and when you're saying your prayers just remember there's one more star in heaven tonite, and I ain't talkin' Rudolph Valentino!


Christopher said...

An aside...while reading an old SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE awhile back I was surprised to read a review of some kraut-y aggro by Gary Sperazza that said something along the lines that Neu! sounded a lot like King Crimson! I can't see the similarities at all, but then again I rememeber a review of the first Roxy Music album in BEDLOE'S ISLAND that said that Roxy were heavily influenced by Crimson, and although that seems more likely I still can't hear it that much either! Maybe Crimson were just a handy reference point for bands in the seventies??? What do you think???

Anonymous said...

What *I* think is that it's pretty sad that it takes a Dinger obituary elsewhere for me to discover that a new La Dusseldorf record was actually released in 2006 (!) ie Mon Amour. I think that just about sums things up.

Christopher said...

I didn't even know a new La Dusseldorf album existed!

Anonymous said...

Bummer about Dinger. Not only the motorik but how about the pummel on that Radio Bremen '71 set!! I think the Crimson tag was an easy scribe line at the time as Ferry auditioned to sing for them and EG management was Crimson's. Not much to go on for people on this side of the Atlantic with just that first lp and before Roxy hit the states for their live assault (which I think "editions of you" would have diassuaged any comparisons with Crimson - though both do feature oboe and mellotron). I just picked up the "roots of Roxy Music" book "Re-make/Re-model: Art, Pop, Fashion and the Making of Roxy Music, 1953-1972" by Michael Bracewell and it looks pretty good. May not be as good as the Father Yod/Source Family book I just finished but will let you know.


Anonymous said...

Not that Editions of You has mellotron and oboe - it shows up on the first lp though.