Mute brought back more Can than any krautrock fan could possibly handle with the 'Can Vinyl Box', which featured seventeen Can records reissued in one bundle; now each record is stepping out on its own. 'Delay' is a rarity in Can's catalogue, comprised entirely of outtakes from their time working with original vocalist Malcolm Mooney. Released way back when in 1981, 'Delay' was only fully formed when band co-founder Holger Czukay brought together the flurry of tracks on tape to make a proper record. It's now been remastered.
Tracks:Butterfly Pnoom Nineteen Century Man The Thief Man Named Joe Uphill Little Star of Bethlehem
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Gloriously unhinged and totally oblivious to What Record Labels Want, ‘Delay 1968’ is a sign of its time: too early to catch a krautrock wave, and not quite able to get a foot in with the seminal punk of the 70s, Can opted to just do their own shit. The result is a record full of intermittent but incredibly compelling drumming (sometimes punk, sometimes jazz), guitars that seem to spin their wheels before crashing off the side of the curb, and Malcolm Mooney’s scratchy vocals -- I’ll go out on a limb and say he recalls a high-octave Beefheart on this thing, if only because the band want him to, creating a bluesy, sultry sound fit for him to sing the word “baby” in.
While mostly a jam session based around angular chords and blotchy bass (cheers, Hugor), ‘Delay’ has odd moments of ridiculous Can transcendence, including the twenty-odd second sax solo that makes up “Pnoom”, and the much revered “Thief”, on which the riffs squeal out in pain as Mooney’s voice crackles with enough sorrow to make Kelly Jones jealous. “Thief’ sounds like an experimental band taking a moment out to have a good cry, and that’s why it’s so great. While “Thief’ is the moment on ‘Delay’ history will be kind to, the record is best when it shows off Can in all their new, abrasive giddiness, as the band who haven’t made a record yet and just want to jam. It’s the best kind of jam, too: the one where everyone thinks they’re the fucking best at their own instrument. There are some pretty hilarious keyboards on the second side, too.
8/10 Jeff Billington Customer review, 24th October 2014
What makes this collection of offcuts essential (whilst in most other band's discographies, they would be filler for hardcore fans only) is that we have essentially an extra full album with original singer Malcom Mooney. And this is an album too, not just a load of bits and pieces, recorded (depending on which sources you read) as either demos for a prospective debut, or the actual unreleased debut album 'Prepare to Meet Thy Pnoom'. Failing to get a deal, they recorded the more focussed, Velvets-y Monster Movie, but this is a great record of a band in its formative stages, and prefigures the looser style they would adopt with Damo Suzuki for second album proper, the epic freak-jam, Tago Mago.
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