Shake Well

Guru Guru

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Shake Well Review

by Thom Jurek

Despite the liner notes' and the band's claim that in the '90s, Guru Guru still played something they called "Psychedelic Ethno Rock," the Guru Guru of 1993, led by Mani Neumeier resembles the earlier incarnations remotely at best, and Shake Well is the proof. Along with guitarist Luigi Archetti, and bassist Razem Rübel and a pair of guests in guitarist Hans Reffert and Claus Veeser, Guru Guru sounds more like Rush during the late '80s. There is more in the form of straight-ahead rock and very little resembling the classic Krautrock of the band's early years. "Reality" is a guitar-oriented pop song that one can imagine Geddy Lee singing without effort; the inclusion of a wobbling version of the nugget "Mystery Train" is embarrassing, offering a view of how little feel the band has for rock classics. "Space Baby" is a narrated piece with spacy guitars, keyboards and an echoey beat. The long spoken word bit sounds more like Bono than Neumeier, and then it kicks right into Rush "Red Barchetta" territory. It's the closest thing here to Guru Guru's roots. Does that make this a bad record? Not at all. In fact it's quite pleasant, has many different kinds of tunes, and stays guitar heavy without collapsing under its own weight. Make no mistake, this sounds much more like a German band trying for a fresh start than a legendary one doing something new. The guitar riffing of Archetti works well in this context because he's a master of classic rock structure (check "Well, Well"). He uses the power of his instrument to root the sound more in the ground that to take it off into flights of fancy, and therefore the band's entire sound is built around it. The faux funk cuts , such as "Desire" and "I Want You" plain don't work. The others are a mixed bag, but the hypnotic "Time, What Time,?" and the aforementioned "Well, Well" do the job and then some. There is a bonus cut on the SPV edition in a live version of "Ooga Booga Special."

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