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- The Lost Tapes by Can
Here's Phil's review for the original 3CD version in the box which is now gone.
It’s a well known fact that Can are the best band that have ever existed. They’re a band that I’ve spent more time with than pretty much any other and over the last 20 or so years I’ve heard their first 6 or 7 albums more than any other record I can think of. Their output from from 1968 to 1975 was nearly always brilliant and they’ve influenced The Fall, Sonic Youth, Pil, Wire, the post punk movement... I could go on. Hugely influential and hugely brilliant and if you’ve not checked out any of their music then you really should do! There is a vinyl box set of all of their albums planned for later this year which is potentially very exciting (and expensive!).
In the meantime The Lost Tapes is here and it’s a release I was stupidly excited about (see above) and I rarely get excited about anything these days. It’s a 3 CD box set with a tasty informative booklet in a 10” old styley reel to reel box. It looks lush! It’s not just a load of shitty out takes either. It’s like listening to a bunch of new Can albums from their strongest era which is essentially a massive wet dream for me. Irmin Schmidt has overseen this project (which has taken years apparently) and he’s gone through hours and hours of Can’s old tapes to get this collection together. This is all archived material by the way which wasn’t released for a variety of reasons (space restrictions on vinyl and soundtracks to films which weren’t released).
So there’s 30 unreleased tracks on here all recorded between 1968 and 1976. The driving rhythm section of Jaki Leibezit on drums and Holger Czukay on bass is a potent one and I’ve always been a massive fan of Jaki’s drumming. He is a total machine. Michael Karoli’s abrasive guitar is as genius as ever, Irmin Schmidt’s keyboards compliment brilliantly and of course there’s sporadic maniacal vocals from Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki over a variety of the tracks. All the usual Can traits and styles are showcased throughout the album.
There’s some proper belting tunes on there like 'Deadly Doris' which sounds like it’s fallen off 'Delay 68', 'Millionenspiel' is pure driving surf rock, 'Bubble Wrap' is a 9 minute epic with scraping guitars, brilliant syncopated drumming, Damo Suzuki’s improvised vocals and it’s a total psychkrautpop jammed up doozie. 'Barnacles' is total jazzfunk... it’s all over the shop! There’s some of their more experimental music (ie less songy) on there as well and that’s spread across the 3 CD’s. The flow on each disc works with the differing styles of Can being paraded fully throughout the entire set.
It’s an amazing set and one for any true ‘Canfan’ out there. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
9/10 Martin 13th December 2013
Been a while, hasn't it? Originally conceived way back in 2008, it was a few years after that, in early 2011 that the box set was announced. So, was all this excitement worth it, or does this box set consist of sonic barrel scrapings from the bands long forgotten jams? Well, if Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt hadn't have had anything to do with it, it might well have done. He remembers that "We always had tapes running, but 10 years' tapes running all the time 12 hours a day would come to an unimaginably big pile...But perhaps a tape would have 10 minutes on it that we thought were good. So there were little snippets and bits and pieces of all kinds from different periods on one tape... chaos." Thankfully, though, he’s chosen only the 3 best of these hours to include here. "Obviously the tapes weren't really lost, but were left in the cupboards of the studio archives for so long everybody just forgot about them." Schmidt's sleeve notes explain, and even after listening to the album for a few minutes you start to wonder why they hadn't dug out the tapes earlier. The Malcolm Mooney led classics Are You Waiting for the Streetcar and Deadly Doris both feel like they could have been contenders for inclusion in 1976's archive comp Unlimited Edition. It's an impressively diverse album, too. Though there's the normal Can fare of tribal deep-funk grooves and some mega jamming, there's also darkly ambient sound collages reminiscent of their disturbing masterpiece Amung or one of fellow noise god's Faust's trippiest moments. Discs two is equally brilliant - the early portion of disc two continues where the first left off, with plenty more Mooney material. There's also plenty material from the classic Damo Suzuki era. Disc three comprises of later material, all of which is surprisingly good Those who value good music need to own a Can album - they're massively influential, and really changed the musical rule book, and seems as a good a place as any to start.
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