John Harris

Journalist & Author

Future Days: Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany by David Stubbs review

The emergence of krautrock was one of postwar culture’s most spectacular blossomings

It is a truth too little acknowledged, but surely incontestable: rock music, during its 40-year era (1954 to 1994, roughly its most obvious bookends are the first Elvis Presley single and the suicide of Kurt Cobain), had its roots in the second world war. Certainly, in Britain, its pioneers members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who were almost all war babies, driven to break out of austerity by embracing and then developing an art form that represented its complete antithesis.

Jeff Nuttall’s 1968 book Bomb Culture makes the argument that the accelerated, in-the-moment ways of pop were driven by the threat of imminent extinction revealed at Hiroshima. Whether that’s true or not, duty and conformism were threatened by forces embodied in music: to the right ears, a record as unhinged as, say, Little Richard’s "Tutti Frutti" ("Awopbopaloobop alopbamboom!") served notice that tomorrow barely mattered and the idea of being stuffed into a military uniform as happened to Elvis in 1958 was reprehensible.

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