When it comes to krautrock, it’s impossible not to mention the war

In recent years, sensitive music critics have attempted to replace krautrock with kosmiche as the consensus term for the wild and wonderful music that exploded out of West Germany during the 1970s: Can, Neu!, Cluster, Faust. A word that literally translates as herb-rock, cooked up by glib Brits who had read too many war comics, lacks a certain gravitas, and nobody would describe Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk as rock anyway. The Hamburg journalist Christoph Dallach opens his invigorating oral history with a spirited argument about the label, but sticks with it anyway. So krautrock it remains. In this story, it is impossible not to mention the war because no country

‘Germans thought we couldn’t play’: Irmin Schmidt, of musical pioneers Can, interviewed

‘The records are only half of the picture,’ says Irmin Schmidt, founder member of the great German experimental collective Can. ‘Live [performance] is the side of ours which actually has still to be discovered. For many of the people who came to our concerts, it was much more important in building up the legend than the records, because it was something extraordinary.’ Rock music is neck deep in retrospection these days, but the release of a ‘new’ Can album, Live in Stuttgart 1975, can’t be dismissed as just one more trawl through the floor sweepings. Instead, as Schmidt suggests, it reshapes what we know about one of the most influential