Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

NEU! - Neu 4 [resequenced!]

Neu 4 [resequenced!]

Released 1996 on captain trip
Reviewed by phallus dei, 22/10/2003ce

NEU 4 as it was released basically sucks. Dinger threw the songs together in a haphazard way that does nothing to apoximate an album. But listening to it in the following way improves things dramatically. So reprogram your CD to play the tracks in this order -
1, 11, 2, 13, 4, 5, 12, 8, 3, 9, 7.
This creates something, which to me at least, feels like an "album." It is not a classic, but still pretty fucking good. Notice that there are three songs I have programmed out; these are unnecessary filler. I quite like this sequencing of songs, as they seem to flow together and create a unified listening experience. Pairing simular songs together while trying to retain the feel of a total package, I wanted to make NEU 4 the best album it could have been had it received an official 1986 release. Here's the run down -
"Nazionale" opens the album, slow and majestic. An unusual way to begin. This was the only song Biba Kopf liked in his 1996 Wire review. It sets the stage for what follows.
"Bush-drum" It's easy to imagine Bush-drum arising out of the fade-out of Nazionale. Considering Nazionale isn't really a song, Bush-drum here represents the first NEU song on their reunion album and it is a strange way to reintroduce the band. Bush drum is neither good nor bad, just kinda 80's... but it works here at the begining, as it shows that NEU have reformed and are intent at exploring new themes instead of simply reliving past glories. It also continues the chill begining of an album that is about to (momentarily) take off.
"Crazy" Ok, track three, and here we go! The first somewhat typical NEU song. A huge contrast to the subdued nature of the first two songs, yet this contrast only makes Crazy sound better. Rother's guitar is particularly cool and Dinger gets to play the rock star. This and the next song are a "suite"!
"Good Life" This song is basicaly Crazy part 2, and I like sequencing them together like this. Good Life is the let down after Crazy. Heard on its own it's not too great. But comming after crazy, it sounds like a tired musician finishing a show. So Crazy/Good Life is Dinger the rock star putting on his own mini show here at the begining of the album.
"Schone Welle (Nice Wave)" The best song on NEU 4. Really. I think this song reaches the same heights as their first three albums, although in a total mid-80's way. Sounding totally dated to the time of it's creation, this dating only adds to its appeal, further bringing out the nostaligic feelings present in the song. An adaptation of the NEU sound for the mid-80's, it would have been a great A-side for a single.
"Wave Naturelle" My imaginary side one ends with a continuation of the theme started on the previous song. This song represents the closet NEU get to replicating their trademark sound. Rother's guitar is again great, but Dinger's drumming doesn't have the same propulsion as his classic work. Still, this song is a good way to end side one with the band riding (or driving) off into the sunset.
"La Bomba (Stop Apartheid World Wide!)" I hated this song the first ten or so times I listened to it, only to realize that it actually approaches greatness in its own cheap way. A good start to side two , as it represents NEU trying to develop new sounds, new ideas... The melody is the crappiest, stupidest, cheapest sounding thing in the whole NEU catalogue. Under this crap melody a few cool experiments take place. For this song to be any good, the listener has to assume that the lame parts are there on purpose. The title of the song is La Bomba (Stop apartheid world wide!) which seems to imply that terrorism in an acceptable protest against a repressive regime. This belief is also represented in the song. Here, the repressive regime is all the lame comercial sounding crap we hear every day, represented by the cheap main melody... and NEU are presenting themselves in opposition to that via their experimentation. On this song, and all of my imaginary side two, NEU are sound-terroists subverting kitsch.
"Fly Dutch II" followed by "Flying Dutchman" These songs harken back to the sound experiments on NEU 2, and imply that such experimentation was an integral part of the band, not just a lame toss off. I prefer listening to Fly Dutch II before part one, as in this order the two songs become a sonic whole. Here NEU do a better job at stripping away / rearranging the song then their attempts on NEU 2. Flying Dutchman is a manipulated verison of "Good Life" and it continue the art-terroist theme of the previous song.
"Danzing" The great B-side, or perhaps the second half of a double A sided single with "Schone Welle (Nice Wave)" The lyrics are "Dancin' with my baby" and the sound approaches elektro. Again, NEU seem to be purporsely subverting everyday kitch, and here that strategy works in an incredibly cool, catchy, and stupid way. I would have liked to have heard it on the radio back in 86.
"86 Comercial Trash" ends the album. A total sonic assult, driving the listener out of the room because of its banality. Another of the sound experiments, this song works two ways - one, if you think NEU 4 sounds like crap, you still have to admit that it posseses more orignality than the cheap TV jingles sampled here (Most of which feature the word NEU), and two, if you are into the whole pop art subvert the mainstream vibe that has been developed on side two, it is a conceptually perfect way to end the album. It really shows NEU as a conceptual band, simular to Negativland (who got their name from NEU anyway).
Anyway, this is my suggestion for NEU 4. Listening to NEU 4 this way, you get what approaches a 'finished album.' I think it works quite well, especially considering the time it would have been released. It is not a classic like the first three albums, but it is definitely an enjoyable, at times inspiring, listen. If the first three albums are five stars, NEU 4 is three and a half. Quite good.

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