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the project

In the summer of 1969, in the midst of the upheaval of the '60s, a young man in Germany, then 25 years of age, started a record label in Munich—his only choice in the absence of suitable employment: Kuckuck Schallplatten (cuckoo records). the young man was founder Eckart Rahn; having had some initial success in the copyright administration business with hits by the Small Faces, Keith Emerson's The Nice, Italian Adriano Celentano and chansonier Gilbert Becaud among some German 'umpah' pop songs typical of the time, reflecting the vast cultural difference between then local pop and Anglo-Saxon rock, he thought of adding some expressions (or impressions) of the current state of music of his own.

The first releases appeared in January of 1970, the fledgling new operation partly funded by the market leader at the time, Deutsche Grammophon, whose A&R Director Oskar Drechsler said to Rahn “I don't know what it is that you know but you know something, and I want you to do it for us”.

Originally, the label started up on two parallel tracks: German-style pop singles echoed by LP recordings of advanced German-language rock, later often referred to as 'krautrock', for better or worse.

The label almost went out of business between 1974 when Deutsche Grammophon decided to terminate the distribution agreement and 1976 when ambient musician Deuter persuaded Rahn to release his seminal LP Celebration (11040-2) himself without 'professional' distribution.

During those early years, 20 7-inch singles were issued through Deutsche Grammophon; they are now—for the first time in over 30 years—made available again on a double CD in a tin box, remastered and transferred to the digital medium using the original reel-to-reel master recordings by German engineer Gideon Boss at Sonopress. The release arrives in time for the 40th anniversary of Rahn's music company on March 31st, 2008, which presumably makes his the oldest surviving independent label that has continually been in operation for four decades. The Kuckuck label went on to launch the career of synthesist Kitaro outside of Japan and to re-start the career of flautist Paul Horn in the '80s, continuing the journey from polka-pop to krautrock to ambient to world music to minimalism and further on into the present before activities concentrated on the Celestial Harmonies label which Rahn started in 1980 in Connecticut, USA.

In translation entitled The Sound of the Early Years, The Best of Kuckuck Schallplatten: The Singles 1970-1974, the release goes from deutsch-rock pioneers Ihre Kinder to Canadian folkie Jack Grunsky by way of the Connecticut-based band Repairs and a few truly authentic krautpop items, such as the tracks sung in German and English by Johnny Tame and his producer Mal Sondock, a Texas expatriate who understood German pop sometimes better than the Germans themselves did. Some 'covers' of Anglo hits, some TV tracks by Sam Spence (the first totally electronic recordings issued in Germany), a gem by Keith West of Excerpt From A Teenage Opera-fame, silly British pop by Bunter and a breath-taking bonus track by Connecticut's The Scratch Band with Dusty Springfield's I Only Want To Be With You in an unexpectedly introspective reading. A wild and completely incoherent mix, typical of the times and thus a mirror of what was going on in Germany and where it was headed.