July 23, 2024

Guru Guru – “Live In China” – groovy Krautrock’n’roll from veteran hippies


Mani Neumeier is the only member left from Guru Guru’s original line-up, yet this is still a collaborative project. He leads from the drums and takes the vocals but then, he has a world of experience. Nearly eighty and with collaborations with Acid Mothers Temple, Damo Suzuki and many others, Neumeier has led a life packed with music. Guru Guru are in their fiftieth year as a band and, after forty albums, decided to release a live one from last year in China.

Tunes cycle in hippy grooves with occasional heavier riffs dropping in or moments of Chuck Berry rock and roll stylings – check out ‘Read Air’, which goes all Johnny B Goode. Drums are simple and aimed at keeping up a dancing groove, which keeps the audience enthusiastic. There is an element of celebrating this cult band and the audience lap up the friendly chat from the stage. Mani tells us about the days of the band all living in a squat with just music ‘…..and girls’, he adds. Having spent so many years living in Germany and in Japan, Neumeier has acquired a Japanese-German fusion accent that reminds us of his history working with bands in both countries. They, of course, sing a song about space – ‘Space Baby’. It’s in the Hawkwind style – a spoken story but gone all German, with a space-woman abducting Mani to the ‘planet of love’, like aliens do. The saxophone gets free rein and Eastern pipes get a look in too, thanks to Roland Scaeffer.

‘Izmiz’ is Indian-inflected and features a constricted pipe tone and taka counting. It moves into a peculiar duck-call duet that raised a smile here. ‘Magic Tree’ gets definite flavours of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away in the chorus and highlights the overall basic rock and roll hippy groove – this is essentially a dance band with a few prog touches. They play one from the Kangaroo album from 1972 – ‘Ooga Booga Special’ and then we get an out-there drum solo, mostly rattly percussion. All in all, it’s a pretty ideal jam-band experience and would have been a fun night out – the album will serve as a substitute.

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