Guru Guru - UFO. 1970 Germany

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.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Ohr
CD: 2008 Captain Trip (Japan)

My copy is the original 56 catalog version.

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