Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Soon Over Babaluma [United Artists, 1974] B-
  • Soon Over Babaluma [Spoon, 1996] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Soon Over Babaluma [United Artists, 1974]
As überrock goes, this is diverting enough, ricky-ticking along through various moderately arresting sci-fi soundtrack noises, some of them melodies. But fondness for the machine does not necessitate separation from the body. Just ask Miles Davis. B-

Soon Over Babaluma [Spoon, 1996]
A basically instrumental excursion that aficionados rank with the sprawling Tago Mago, this 1974 Kraut-rock opus is to the Miles Davis of the era as acid jazz is to real jazz. It's never pompous, discernibly smart, playful, even goofy. If you give it your all you can make out a few shards of internal logic. But the light tone avoids texture, density, or pain. The jazzy pulse is innocent of swing, funk, or sex. And if it generates any intrinsic interest, as opposed to the conceptual kick of being so singularly European, after half a dozen plays I should have some inkling what that interest is. B-

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1970s]: Next to Henry Cow, this durable (and variable) German contingent is art-rock's most genuinely avant-garde band, adapting Stockhausen and Coleman to rock rhythms and sonorities in a way that is usually interesting if rarely (in my experience) compelling. All this and their own studio in Cologne without touching the American market or gaining any reliable American distribution. The almighty Deutschmark.