Can Vinyl, CD & tapes by Can at Norman Records
I almost dare not write about the band that our leader Phil has on more than one occasion declared as his favourite band of all time. The German experimentalists made a series of critically acclaimed albums in the late 60s and early 70s which went on to influence all kinds of music from post-punk to electronica and post-rock.
They began in late 60s Cologne inspired by forward-thinking American composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley. The core instrumental four piece of Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit remained steady over the band’s career but they used a series of vocalists the first of which was American Malcolm Mooney who appeared on the band’s 1969 debut album Monster Movie. The music here set the template for what Can would go on to achieve. Long drawn out repetitive and kinetic music driven along by the superb polyrhythmic drumming of Jaki Liebezeit. It featured the obligatory late 60s side long jam in 'Yoo Doo Right' which was whittled down from an exhaustive six hour session.
Mooney suffered a nervous breakdown soon after and was replaced by Japanese vocalist Damo Suzuki and the line up who made their key records was now in place. The next few years saw them release a succession of groundbreaking, highly influential albums starting with the double album Tago Mago in 1972. The album was more sprawling than earlier work with more experimental jazz influenced textures - though commercial success eluded them at this point the album found its way into the hands of scores of musicians who would be influenced by its unconventional European approach. Most notably John Lydon, Mark Hollis and Radiohead have been said to have been inspired by the album. Its follow up Ege Bam Yasi scored the band a hit in their native Germany with 'Spoon' and continued to push the boundaries of what rock music could be - a more funky and groovy record it has been sampled by Kanye West and covered in its entirety by uber fan Stephen Malkmus. Their 1973 album Future Days led them to a more ambient sound with Liebezeit's drumming prefacing the early 90s electronic scene in its complex highly rhythmic patterns. Indeed the album seems to invent what later became post-rock with long drawn out songs with fluttering electronics and evocative textures.
Suzuki departed after Future Days and the band reverted to a four piece for follow up Soon Over Babaluma sharing out vocals between them and it was probably the last truly great album in Can’s catalogue. They made five further albums in the 1970s pursuing a more conventional style away from the inspired experimental work of earlier though they did finally score a hit with 'I Want More' in 1976 which saw them appear on Top of the Pops. The band pretty much called it a day in 1979 though one further album of improvisations was released as Rite Time in 1989.
Its members have gone on to successful solo careers - Suzuki as wandering minstrel playing shows across the globe with pick up bands, Holger Czukay made a series of acclaimed ambient albums and Jaki Liebezeit has played with a host of musicians lending his unique drumming to a variety of projects. But there was nothing like the original Can - probably the band that has influenced the most amount of bands we stock here at Norman Records and the band that has most influenced our founder. Without them we’d be nothing.