Guru Guru - UFO. 1970 Germany

Guru Guru - UFO. 1970 Ohr

Other Guru Guru albums on UMR

CD reissues (selected): 1994 Zyx; 1994 Spalax (France); 1999 Zyx; 2008 Lion (USA); 2008 Captain Trip (Japan mini)

LP reissues: 198? Pop Import; 1996 Think Progressive; 2007 Wah Wah (Spain)

Packaging: There are at least 13 editions of this album, but the ones above are the most representative. Since this is an early Ohr album, real originals start with the 56 catalog number, and slightly later presses start with 556. The latter is a bit more common, though most Ohr originals (both versions) go for 3 figures. Interesting that neither RYM nor Discogs lists the Pop Import release. I go into great detail below on my own experience with this version. I did find a couple of former auctions that were the Pop Import release, to corroborate, but I'm not sure exactly when it was released (probably 1981 or so). My first CD was the Zyx which is about as boring as a CD can possibly be. In the early days of ebay (1999) I secured a real 56 original (and then sold the Pop Import LP). And finally I bought the Captain Trip mini-LP, which was the inspiration for the below review (first penned in August of 2008), and kicked the Zyx out the door. If you're in the market for the CD, and don't care as much about fancy packaging, most assuredly the Lion CD will be the best, as it contains a 20 page historical booklet, and I'm sure it sounds great. For LP reissues, the Wah Wah release is quite nice, and I picked one up for myself recently to have an extra. No liner notes, though I did like that they used the original Ohr logo on the label. All LP reissues replicate the original gatefold.

Review: I knew it was the best album in the stack. It was only a matter of time to when I could get home and hear it. Home to the United States that is. It was London, May of 1987, and I had picked up a pile of records from the Virgin Megastore, plus many others from our swing through Continental Europe. But I knew "UFO" was going to be the big winner. It was the Pop Import release of course, but even those were extinct in the record stores back home in Dallas. The day-glo gatefold cover of an orange flying saucer against the textured yellow background. The Ohr/ear symbol at the top (perfectly simulated with the new Captain Trip Japanese mini-LP release - right down the exact slickness of the cover). The giant ear on Uli Trepte's profile. Even the birthdates were telling. 1940, 1941 and 1945. To say, at the time of recording, roughly 25, 29 and 30 years old - pointing to the value of experience over youthful naivete. The track names 'Stone In', 'Girl Call', 'Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama', 'UFO', and 'Der LSD-Marsch'. The liner notes in English: Soon the UFOs will land and mankind will meet much stronger brains and habits. Lets get ready for that. - P. Hinten. There were German notes as well, and they looked cool too. It had to be everything I imagined an unhinged German psychedelic record to be. I had read about it, and now I had it my hands. I could barely wait to fly home. Jet-lag be damned, it was on the home stereo the moment I walked in the door. It was an experience I would never forget.

Blam, blam goes Ax Genrich's massive fuzz guitar. BASH goes Mani Neumeier's gong/cymbals/percussion. Uli Trepte adds a bass line, and we're already in MID JAM form 15 seconds into the recording! And it gets only more intense from there. Brain frying acid guitar as the pace picks up and moaning wordless chants cascade over the mayhem. This isn't a mindless jam ala the Acid Mother's Temple. Everything is coherent, with a purpose, the work of 3 experienced jazz trained road warriors. They were already masters of their trade, but applied to a new kind of instrumental psychedelic free rock. 'Stone In' is 5:42 of perfection. Maybe the greatest opening sequence in psychedelic history. 'Girl Call' follows and is no less powerful, allowing us a viewpoint in what might have been the first minute of 'Stone In', before launching into another insane jam. The transition from the heightened tensions of 'Girl Call' to the fast paced Eastern oriented jam of 'Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama' still sends shivers down my spine. By the end of Side 1, I can say with some conviction: It is perfect.

We theoretically flip the record over and visit the lengthy title track. Here Guru Guru shows their abstract side. An exercise in psychedelic decomposition. Rhythmnless. Intense to the point of painful. Out of the abyss rises "Der LSD-Marsch", and the acid guitar trio is back in form, igniting your stereo in flames. If it went another hour, it would only be better. I can think of less than 10 albums I'd say that about.

21 years after that first encounter, I hear "UFO" better than ever. A true all-time classic that has transcended time.

Last update: August 5, 2015

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