The origins and influence of NEU!’s “Hero” – a groundbreaking combination of driving motorik guitars and angry proto-punk vocals in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, October 13 and available to buy from our online store.
After a year apart, guitarist Michael Rother and drummer, singer and guitarist Klaus Dinger had opposing visions when they regrouped as Neu! in 1974. Rother wanted to develop the textural music he’d recently been exploring with Harmonia, while his bandmate was shifting towards more primal rock’n’roll. The compromise was Neu! 75, which appears along with its two predecessors and a remix album on the boxset Neu! 50!: our archive album of 2022.
The showpiece of Neu! 75 is “Hero”, where Rother’s gorgeous melodies and drones are stampeded by Dinger’s proto-punk vocals, raging against the perceived injustices of his personal life and career. It ends with a bitter declaration: “Your only friend is music until your dying day!” The message is intensified by the powerful playing of his brother Thomas and Hans Lampe, two drummers who went on to record with Dinger as La Düsseldorf.
“The way Klaus sings on “Hero” is so impressive,” marvels Rother. “He wasn’t used to doing vocals, but he did it – bang! – just like that. And of course it gives that track so much of its energy.”
As with the rest of Neu! 75, “Hero” was guided by producer Conny Plank, the godfather of the German kosmische scene. Rother and Dinger were polar opposites as personalities, never socialising together and rarely discussing the music they made, but Plank was able to illuminate their unique studio chemistry. “Conny was a marvellous producer, because he had a spirit that just made things happen,” explains Lampe. “You were somehow inspired to be different. Recording with him was really magical.”
Rother and Dinger had already decided to go their separate ways by the time the album was released in the spring of 1975. “Klaus and I never saw ourselves as a band, it was a project,” says Rother, who attempted to reunite with Dinger a decade later, only for the sessions to fall apart amid much bitterness. “After creating Neu! 75 he went with La Düsseldorf and was very successful. I went back to Harmonia and was very unsuccessful. But happy!”
When Dinger died in 2008, Neu! had long passed into legend, with Neu! 75 arguably their greatest and most influential work. “It’s astonishing to think that people still talk about us 50 years later,” Rother reflects, “because we were only concerned with making music together. It was just two people clicking.”
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