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One of the earliest and most legendary of German groups was Guru Guru, led by the outstanding, colourful Mani Neumeier, who was born on 31 December 1940 in Munich. Up to 1967 Neumeier and Uli Trepte were members of the free jazz combo Irene Schweitzer Trio. The Guru Guru Groove came to life in 1968 with Neumeier, Trepte and Hans Sachs, debuting at the 'Holy Hill Festival', Heidelberg, in August. On 29 September they performed at the Internationale Song Tage in Essen. This must have been something completely outrageous: Neumeier and Trepte performing improvised free jazz against which Sachs read texts. In the Spring of 1969 Sachs left and the name was shortened to Guru Guru. Several guitarists joined and quit (the longest lasting was Jim Kennedy) before Ax Genrich became a permanent member in April 1970. He had previously played with the Berlin group Agitation Free. In June this trio recorded UFO with Julius Schittenhelm. This utterly tripped out album featured notorious titles such as "Stone In" and "Der LSD Marsch", hinting at some possible sources of their inspiration. The music was thunderous, heavy psychedelic space rock, often bordering on pure mayhem. As in the case of early Ash Ra Tempel, this was a power trio dedicated to endless, improvised space excursions, like a continuation of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" or Hendrix' "ESP" As you'll guess, this was pretty powerful stuff that could had been a soundtrack celebrating the arrival of UFOs!
Their next work, Hinten (recorded in July 1971 at Star Studios with Konrad Plank), was basically more of the same kind, though calmer and with some signs of structure evident. This time Neumeier also sang some nonsensical lyrics for our general pleasure. The opening track "Electric Junk" is a typical example of Guru Guru's early music: it started as a loud Hendrix rocker, continued with spoken lyrics to a backing of percussion and noises, then a Cream-styled instrumental part, followed by a floating space rock passage with strange mumbling and ending in a Hendrix-esque frenzy. Kan Guru (1972) was a further development on their freaky jamming style, with the shortest back "Oxymoron" clocking in at almost 11 minutes. For many people, this album was Guru Guru's finest achievement. As judged by "Bo Diddley" on Hot On Spot (a 'split CD' where the other half was filled with exciting tracks by Uli Trepte and friends), Guru Guru was a fascinating, if somewhat undisciplined, live act. After this, Uli Trepte left the group for solo sessions, Tomorrow's Gift, Faust, Kickbit Information and at last his own group Spacebox. He was replaced with Bruno Schaab, previously of the hard rock group Night Sun. Guru Guru's fourth album (1973) proved to be their most patchy to date. After three albums of brilliant space rock the time was ripe for something new, but apparently the group didn't know exactly what!. One side contained two short and commercial rock numbers (coupled as their first single) followed by a lenghty rock'n'roll medley! The other side had: "Der Elektrolurch", a silly number soon to be their favourite live number, where Neumeier, jumped around in a frenzied war dance dressed as a red Indian, and "The Story Of Life", a spacey and dreamy track sung by Bruno Schaab and including a great instrumental fusion sequence! In July 1973, Bruno Schaab was replaced with Hans Hartmann. The next month the trio of Neumeier, Genrich and Hartmann recorded their first album for Atlantic. Regrettably , none of the Atlantic albums were up to the previous standard. Although Don't Call Us, We'll Call You (1973) was a more consistent album than Guru Guru, it contained fewer highlights. It was a more accessible attempt at jazz-rock. At the end of the year Ax Genrich quit and was replaced by Houschang Nejadepour, previously the guitarist of Eiliff. Dance Of The Flames (1974) proved that this particular combination wasn't very good, and Najadepour left again in July. For the rest of the year Conny Veit played guitar, before Guru Guru split. From November 1974 to June 1975, Neumeier played various studio sessions in Conny's studio together with Helmut Hattler (bass, from Kraan), Jan Fride (drums, percussion, from Kraan), Dieter Moebius (synthesizer), Hans-Joachim Roedelius (organ, both from Cluster & Harmonia), Ingo Bischof (keyboards), Tommy Goldschmitt (percussion, both from Karthago), Sepp Jandrisits (guitar), Jargen 'Jogi' Karpenkiel (bass, ex-Kollektiv), Ax Genrich (guitar) and Gerd Dudeck (sax, flute). These sessions resulted in several albums: the Highdelberg album, Harmonia's De Luxe (recorded in Forst) and the new Guru Guru album: Mani Und Seine Freunde. This brought further examples of Neumeier's peculiar humour in "Chicken Rock" and "Woodpecker's Dream". As this album was a collaboration between musicians from Karthago, Kraan and Guru Guru, the music became a conglomerate of those jazz-rock styles.
Mani Neumeier collaborated with his new friends frequently in the future and managed to assemble a new, (reasonably) stable Guru Guru live crew with Jandrisits, Karpenkiel and Roland Schaeffer (ex-Brainstorm). This incarnation's first album Tango Fango (1976) was full of bossa nova, tango, verbal silliness and instrumental jazz-rock - actually the most consistent Guru Guru album for quite a while.
01 - Stone In 5:43
02 - Girl Call 6:21
03 - Next Time See You At The Dalai Lhama 5:59
04 - UFO 10:25
05 - Der LSD-Marsch 8:29
Uli Trepte Bass, Radio
Mani Neumeier Percussion, Special Effects
Ax Genrich Guitar
All titles and production by Guru Guru
Recorded and Mixed June 1970