To this day, the bands that have become known under the genre "Krautrock" are revered internationally and are considered mega cool in English-speaking countries. In addition to their German origins, they made often experimental music in their songs and that made them something special. The term, which was picked up by a British journalist, goes back to the actually derogatory description of German soldiers as "Krauts" (of sauerkraut) in World War II.
In 1980, MELODIE DER WELT secured the publishing rights for around 400 German rock music titles published by SWP-Musikverlag and founded the independent Edition Rock Melody. Among them were the music groups Eloy, Jane, Kin Ping Meh and Triumvirat, all major figures in the genre. When the catalog was first presented at MIDEM 1981, it generated a great deal of interest and attention. Together they achieved great success for their bands.
ELOY became known with impressive English-language art rock. The German critics often reviled the band, but they were loved by international audiences. Since it was founded by Frank Bornemann in Hanover in 1969, the line-up of the band has changed many times. When Edition Rock Melody came into play, the group consisted of Frank Bornemann, Klaus-Peter Matziol, Hannes Arkona and Hannes Folberth. In 1980 there was a big tour in Germany and all the concerts were sold out. In 1981 Eloy undertook a concert tour in Greece. 14,000 visitors came to the shows in Thessaloniki and Athens. The halls were sold out days in advance and twice as many tickets could have been sold. The event was even covered in the official news programs because of the crowds that broke out in Thessaloniki, prompting tightened police security measures for the Athens concerts. At the same time, Capitol Records released a compilation of Eloy titles in Canada. During this time, in which Eloy was so enormously successful, they published the concept work "Planets / Time To Turn". The title song "Time To Turn" has lost none of its attractiveness to this day. It achieved a high radio presence at the time and was covered several times abroad. The cover of the Polish rock band Budka Suflera still enjoys great popularity. The Eloy LPs sold over a million copies. A video tape of the band, co-financed by the publisher, was broadcasted on several foreign TV stations.
JANE is a progressive Krautrock band, formed in Hanover in 1970 by guitarist Klaus Hess, drummer/singer Peter Panka, bassist/singer Charly Maucher and keyboardist Werner Nadolny, who have been called the German "Pink Floyd" sometimes. Down to earth and hard, Jane successfully rocked for many years. The LP "Between Heaven and Hell", released in 1977, surprised with untypical choir singing and in the song "Voice in the Wind" church organ and harp were used. Live, Jane presented the album with quadraphonic effects. In 1978 the band received the gold Brain label from their record label. Overall, album sales have exceeded the million mark. In 1981 the band agreed on a worldwide management contract with Brian Morrison (manager of the Bee Gees and Pink Floyd) and toured England and the USA. In 1994 there was a name dispute, which was resolved by the district court of Hanover in such a way that the band name Jane could only be used with a prefix (Peter Panka's Jane, Klaus Hess' Jane etc.).
KIN PING MEH was founded in Mannheim in 1969 by Joachim Schäfer and Werner Stephan. The band was discovered by Polydor at a competition on the Reeperbahn. Their fourth album “Virtues and Sins” of 1974, written by Gerhard Mrozeck, Geff Harrison and Alan Joe Wroe, was also released in Argentina. The single release "Good Time Gracie" was by far the most successful KPM title up to that point. Not only was it the best-selling, it was also the most played on radio. The band played an exciting mix of pop rock with progressive and psychedelic elements. In 1977 they broke up.
TRIUMVIRAT was a progressive rock band that was founded in 1969 by Jürgen Fritz, Hans Bathelt and Dick W. Frangenberg and continued in 1976 as a solo project by Jürgen Fritz. Experimentation was also part of the principle with this band and the new electronic keyboards were the focus. Edition Rock Melody acquired from SWP the copyrights of the second album "Pompeii" of 1977. Due to disputes about the naming rights, it was released under the name "New Triumvirat". The last album was released in 1980.
The band HARMONIA actually made more electronic music than typical Krautrock. It was founded in 1973 by the "Cluster" musicians Dieter Moebius, Hans Joachim Roedelius and Michael Rother (previously with "Kraftwerk" and "Neu!"). It only existed for two years. In 1975 SWP signed publishing contracts for the second album "de Luxe" for the German-speaking area. Harmonia's music influenced many musicians, including David Bowie.
In addition to these well-known bands, there were many more and all kinds of activities. The Hanoverian band FARGO released the new LP “Frontpage Lover” in 1981, directed by Frank Bornemann. Fargo immediately started an extensive concert tour through Germany and neighboring countries and performed as the opening act for AC/DC in the sold-out Olympiahalle in Munich. Releases in the USA, Japan and all of Europe followed.
Also from Hanover was the rock group FIREHORSE around keyboardist Mani Wieczorke, who undertook their first tour in England in 1981. That was a promising start with the album "On the Wind". Unfortunately it stayed that way.
The rock group FAITHFUL BREATH from Witten had another fate. They signed a publishing contract for their latest album with Edition Rock Melody in the same year. The band created a small sensation when they were able to take first place in the WDR Schlager Rally for four weeks with the title "This is my Love Song" and were in the top ten for a total of four months. After that they turned from psychedelic rock to heavy metal.
LENNY MAC DOWELL, Germany's No. 1 jazz rock flutist, and his band completed a very successful tour at that time and ended up at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The album "Airplay" turned out to be a real sales hit. The famous New York jazz label Innercity Records released the album in the USA. Friedemann Leinert, one of the most prominent radio producers of the time at Süddeutscher Rundfunk, hid behind the pseudonym.
The brothers Klaus and Rolf Fichter from Freiburg were very excited when they heard that the LP of their project DREAMWORLD was amazingly well received by the older generation in the USA who normally listened to classical music. The album "On Flight To The Light" ran in its entirety on the WAIF station in Cincinnati/Ohio and created a furore. In 1979 the Fichter brothers wrote “Das Lied der Grünen” (song for the party “The Greens”) together with Helmut S. Unbehoven. In a short time, the state association of Baden-Württemberg already had 10,000 pre-orders for the single.
WINTERGARDEN released the album "The Land Of Milk & Honey" on Electrola, which was also released by Capitol in Canada with great publicity. Unfortunately it wasn't as successful as hoped and Walter Seyffer and Bernd Unger, the band's founders, ended their collaboration with Electrola. There was a third self-distributed album and then it was over.
The group RAMSES (like so many) from Hanover signed a publishing contract with Edition Rock Melody in 1981. The first album in this collaboration "Light Fantastic" was released by Sky Records. Just one month later, the band was in front of the ZDF (TV station) cameras on the grounds of the Berlin Radio Exhibition, where "Rockpop" was recorded.
Unfortunately, the best time of German progressive rock was already over by that time, but there were always references to it and some of the bands have never been forgotten.