Can – The Lost Tapes (Mute Records)


Calling this 3-CD set The Lost Tapes is a misnomer since none of the material on it was ever really “lost” per se; but I guess calling it “The Best Of The Tapes That Sat In Storage Until We Had The Time To Listen To Them” isn’t as enticing. Culled from 40+ hours of old Ampex tapes, The Lost Tapes represents an alternate history of Can’s first decade (1968-1977), with over three hours of previously unreleased material getting a long overdue  airing. Everything fans have loved about Can’s music is present – the raw-throated mantra-punk of the Malcolm Mooney era, the spooky atmospheric kraut-rock of the Damo Suzuki era, the lengthy instrumentals, the sound collages and the stoned experiments are all here in wonderfully clear sound quality.

As for the songs, many are good enough that perhaps they could have been on Can’s regular albums, but only a couple should have: “Waiting For The Streetcar” is a fascinating 10-minute Malcom Mooney meltdown that would have worked well on Monster Movie, and “Bubble Rap” (which sounds like it dates from 1971/72) is as good as anything on Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago. However, if anything, The Lost Tapes is a testament to the brilliance of Can’s editing process, and how well they paired endless hours of jamming and experimentation down into albums that have been staples of many music collections for decades. For as much as the songs on The Lost Tapes are fascinating to hear, they don’t have the same magical quality of the officially released material. If you’re a fan you’ll want to pick this up though, if for no other reason than the downright apocalyptic live version of “Spoon” which checks in at 16:47, and makes a convincing argument for Can as one of the all-time great jam bands.

Tracklisting:

Part 1

1. Millionenspiel

2. Waiting For The Streetcar

3. Evening All Day

4. Deadly Doris

5. Graublau

6. When Darkness Comes

7. Blind Mirror Surf

8. Oscura Primavera

9. Bubble Rap

Part 2

1. Your Friendly Neighbourhood Whore

2. Waiting For The Streetcar

3. The Agreement

4. Midnight Sky

5. Desert

6. Spoon (Live)

7. Dead Pigeon Suite

8. Abra Cada Braxas

9. A Swan Is Born

10. The Loop

Part 3

1. Godzilla Fragment

2. On The Way To Mother Sky

3. Midnight Men

4. Networks Of Foam

5. Messers, Scissors, Fork and Light

6. Barnacles

7. E.F.S 108

8. Private Nocturnal

9. Alice

10. Mushroom (Live)

11. One More Saturday Night (Live)

Can – Tago Mago: Deluxe Edition (Mute Records)


Tago Mago isn’t the best known album of the 1970s, but it’s perhaps the most influential. You can hear the profound effect it had on a veritable who’s who of important artists including Radiohead, The Fall, PiL, Brian Eno, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, Blur, David Bowie and Primal Scream (whose Bobby Gillespie contributes liner notes), among others. Few albums of its era did quite as much to expand the realm of what is possible in music via textures, ideas and structures that didn’t exist until Can introduced them.
Tago Mago was the first full-length Can album to solely feature Damo Suzuki’s vocals (1970’s Soundtracks album featured contributions from both previous singer Malcolm Mooney and Suzuki), and it becomes obvious as soon as Suzuki opens his mouth on the first song, “Paperhouse”, that Can had found their singer. While a small Japanese man whose fey whispered words were often incomprehensible may not seem on paper to be an obvious choice to front a German rock band, Can were hardly your average band. They were fearless experimenters who always went bravely into previously uncharted territories. The aforementioned “Paperhouse” is heavy acid rock turned into something new via Jaki Leibezeit’s jazzy drumming (he played in jazz ensembles prior to Can). “Mushroom” is funky, sparse and psychotic, with Suzuki intoning “When I saw mushroom head/I was born and I was dead”, while the lock-groove and backwards vocals of “Oh Yeah” more or less invented everything The Fall have been doing for the past 30+ years. Next up is the album’s 18-minute centerpiece, “Halleluwah”, a cavalcade of stream-of-consciousness lyrics and inspired jamming. Then comes the highly experimental portion of the album, with “Aumgn” and “Peking O” combining for almost half an hour of sound collage cut-ups and abstract noodling. Quite frankly, I usually skip them and go right to the ethereal closer “Bring Me Coffee Or Tea” which brings the album back down to earth in a gentle almost lullaby-like way.

The Deluxe Edition sports remastered sound and a 1972 concert recording. The track-list says the band played “Mushroom”, “Spoon” and “Halleluwah”, but Can’s improvisational performance bare very little resemblance to the recorded versions. Highly adventurous and 100% essential listening.

 

Tracklisting:

Disc 1:

1. “Paperhouse” 7:29
2. “Mushroom” 4:04
3. “Oh Yeah” 7:23
4. “Halleluwah” 18:33
5. “Aumgn” 17:37
6. “Peking O” 11:38
7. “Bring Me Coffee or Tea” 6:47

Disc 2:

1. “Mushroom (Live 1972)” 8:42
2. “Spoon (Live 1972)” 29:55
3. “Halleluwah (Live 1972)” 9:12