You can go on for ever trying to trace the roots of punk. Many have tried; few have reached a consensus. But most would find an argument to include Neu! in the debate.
No one would claim that they were an actual punk band. For a start, they were German. Secondly, they began recording in 1971 and broke up four years later. But their urgent minimalism was undoubtedly a major influence.
It can be most obviously heard on this song, Super, the final track on their second album in 1973. It’s also an example of the relentless ‘motorik’ beat they pioneered, which would remain the bedrock of countless bands today.
Neu! had begun in Dusseldorf in 1971, formed by drummer Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother (guitar, keyboards) after they left an early lineup of Kraftwerk, where they were performing, briefly, as a trio with Florian Schneider.
Much like The Velvet Underground, Neu!’s debut album sold only around 30,000 copies at the time – this YouTube clip has only got 90,000 views – but, as Eno said of the Velvets, everyone who bought it went and formed a band.
It influenced countless listeners to start making music, inspired others to find new directions (Bowie, Iggy, Eno) and provided the template not only for punk but also electronica, arguably spawning genres such as Chicago House and Detroit Techno.
You could even argue that Neu! invented remixing after their record company refused to give them enough money to complete their second album, so they resorted to manipulating, warping and changing the speed of the tracks they had already completed.
Neu! broke up after their third album and Rother joined forces with the duo Cluster to record under the name Harmonia, while Dinger forming another influential group beloved of Bowie, La Düsseldorf.