Ashra - Blackouts. 1977 Germany
This is our 3rd feature on Ash Ra Tempel/Ashra.
CD reissues: 1992 Virgin (UK); 2008 MG.ART; 2008 Arcangelo (Japan mini-LP)
Release details: Typical late 70s European single sleeve look and feel. Like most of the Ashra catalog, I bought my first copy at The Record Gallery in 1985 (the 1978 Virgin (Netherlands) copy). It was a really cool store in a hip part of Dallas near downtown that had tons of European imports (primarily electronic focused) and doubled as an art gallery. I learned about 100's of albums from that store - as well as spending my entire 1985/86 summer-from-college employment paychecks there (or so it seemed). It appears the French copy did get to market first in 1977 and has a slightly different cover (top photo). The second photo is the more common cover and the one you're most likely to run into. Originals can easily be found for the same price I paid in 1985 for a new one (if not less). The French original might go for a little more than $20 and Japanese originals with the obi can be had for around $30 typically. As for CDs, the Virgin copy is a straight up reissue, but sounds great. The CD had become difficult to source - and expensive - until Gottsching himself put the CD out on his own label. Can't imagine much need to own the Japanese version here unless you're strictly a collector of paper sleeve releases.
Notes: On Blackouts, Manuel Gottsching returned to the guitar once more to release his masterwork of the Virgin era. His blend of soulful electric guitar with whooshing synthesizers and sequencers has never been matched to this day. The set of tracks 'Midnight on Mars', 'Don't Trust the Kids', and 'Blackouts' is simply astounding, and Manuel's guitar playing here is hotter than anywhere since the early Ash Ra Tempel days. The title track is absolutely on fire by the end of the piece. 'Shuttle Cock' possesses the sound on sound guitar of "Inventions For Electric Guitar". The original LP states that Gottsching plays "Sequencer, Keyboards, and a lot of guitar" and he thanks Udo Arndt for the "lonely guitar sound". As well as "This record should be heard comfortably". I cannot for the life of me understand the criticism this album gets. I've had this on LP for over 30 years, and there is an amazing vibe here that I never tire of. I've spent many hours closing my eyes and listening intently to it visualizing the imaginary movie it projects. A brilliant masterwork for my tastes.