Spanning the entirety of their hugely influential career, Mute have put all of Can’s singles into one place. A lot of these tracks haven’t been made available since their original individual releases. From the obscure to the surprisingly accessible, this collection is great for newcomers and diehard fans alike. On triple vinyl or CD via Mute
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I'm honoured. Phil has allowed me to play his copy of this useful round-up of the singles of rather good German band Can for review purposes. The caveat is that I must not touch/ruin it which I'll try my best not to do.
It spans their entire career so you'll have to sift through the understandably ropey early day 'Soul Desert' and terrible 'She Brings the Rain' before suddenly things get instantly brilliant with 'Spoon' as the soon to be familiar Can sound starts to take hold. It always helped that they had the good sense to employ an octopus on drums which helped their songs even when rather banal ('Turtles Have Short Legs', 'I'm So Green') sound somehow futuristic and wildly danceable. But of course it's tracks like 'Vitamin C' which are their definitive works - remarkable minimal and pulsating pieces that led into their high water moments which all appear on Side three - 'Mushroom', 'Moonshake' and a frustratingly truncated 'Future Days' showcase the strangely slinky space-kraut that has influenced generations of listeners.
It's generally felt that Can started to fall away after 'Future Days' and this is reflected in the quality of the latter part of the collection - certainly jazz skronks like 'Splash' and 'Hunters and Collectors' could be described as 'a bit much'. They were still wildly inventive however and strangely for non completists this could be where some of the most interesting tracks can be found. 'Vernal Equinox' is an unbelievable tour de force of polyrhythms, it's hard not to love their disco hit 'I Want More', 'Silent Night' is a lovely bloopy instrumental that has the feel of some of Brian Eno's work around the same era and 'Don't Say No' sounds like some kind of warped Trinidadian music. Their version of the 'Can Can' is possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
As a result of taking in wheat, chaff and everything in between, 'The Singles' is perhaps paradoxically not the best place to start for anyone new to Can. For fans and completists it lovingly showcases an incredible rollercoaster of a career from this ridiculous, talented band.
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- The Singles by Can
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