The influence of krautrock (though I’ve always disliked the term) on punk and post-punk is of course profound – be it via the minimalist droning of Neu, the creeping edginess of Can or the pioneering electronica of Kraftwerk, the Germans have found their way into the hearts, minds and music of everyone from John Lydon to Thurston Moore.
Faust established themselves as part of this Teutonic troupe with their first two releases, the avant-psych monoliths Faust and So Far, but on their subsequent 1973 LP, Faust IV, they began to flirt with some more ‘conventional’ styles (for them, anyway) and, splendidly enough, reggae was on the cards.
Possibly the spikiest dread in the pre-punk milieu, The Sad Skinhead is remarkable in its foreshadowing of the era to come. Tinny, trebly guitars grind out a serrated skanking rhythm while a slightly expressionless vocal recounts a tale of directionless delinquency (‘Going places, smashing faces, what else could we do?’), and in fact a peppering of vibraphone may be the only thing to suggest the track was recorded prior to 1977.
To my knowledge, Faust’s erratic but highly acclaimed career hasn’t yielded any other such skanky outings, though I’m pleased to say The Sad Skinhead does still feature in their live set to this day. Presumably just not when they’re playing their guitars with chainsaws…
Some rare documentary footage from 1971:
…and a latter day Faust recording an album in what looks like someone’s living room: