33 1/3: Can – Tago Mago by Alan Warner (Bloomsbury)


Alan Warner’s book provides some information about Can and the recording of their brilliant 1971 double-LP Tago Mago, but mostly it’s about Warner’s teenaged path to acquiring and understanding the album. Growing up in late ’70s rural Scotland, his exposure to new music was limited to whatever was available at the local record store or the record collections of friends and family. There weren’t many ways to find anything outside the mainstream, but after discovering punk Warner stumbled on an NME interview with Johnny Rotten where Can was mentioned as an influence. This sparked something inside him and he set off on a quest to acquire their music, without knowing what they sounded like or which albums were the “ones to get”. While this innocent small-scale exploration hardly puts him in league with Vasco de Gama, it’s a reminder of what it was like to be a young person with a curiosity for music before the internet gave us access to whatever/whenever. I’m just old enough to remember what that was like and found myself relating closely to the story, even smiling at the book’s notion that, if your local record store didn’t carry a record, you might not even know it existed. Good stuff.