George Starostin's Reviews



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<> (04.09.2000)

I read your reviews of the Can catalouge and I enjoyed it immensley.I disagree with what you said about the two undesirable Tago Mago tracks.About those,I don't think the Doors 'The End' even comes close to making the listener think he's going mad as those.I first got into Can around `90 when the Mute re-issues came out.I put on Tago Mago at bedtime falling asleep during 'halleluwah'.Only to be woken up by Irmin's creepy AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMNNNNNNNNN.Coming out of my sleep it sounded like my room was possessed.People think Floyd's 'Several Species'... is creepy and looney and it is but,not like that one.I think that track has a wealth of imagination.I don't think technical skill were the concerns of the musicians when they did it.Sound collages may not be your thing but I don't know how you can even compare Brit techno geeks to Can.They would be so much poorer without them considering what they have to say about Can.It's not that hard to mix ready made sounds either.Any geek can be a scratch dj but that's exactly the point of that music and probably none of those guys have instrumental prowess either.

Gary Booth <> (21.01.2004)

Dear George,

I came across this site whilst looking for info on Reebop; I used to play with him and Rosco Gee in the mid-70's, after Traffic split. I know for sure that both of them were already working with Can as early as 1974; Rosco was always popping over to Germany, partly to work with them and partly because his then girlfriend lived there. No reason to add the '!!!' after Traffic, either; both Reebop and Rosco were stunningly creative and innovative musicians, and to my chagrin to this day I've never worked with anyone even vaguely as good. This was the very thing that attracted Winwood and co to them, and also resulted in Reebop working with luminaries such as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

However, that's not the reason for this note, rather your assertion that 'without Eno there would be no.....xxxxxx.'

Much as I admire Brian Eno, this is just daft. Influential he may be, but New Age owes more to Steve Hillage and Gong than Eno. As for World Music, I suggest you look at the back catalogue of Osibisa, the first true Afro/rock cross-over band (and therefore arguably one of the first exponents of World Music); although on the same label as Eno I think you'll find that they were not exactly influenced by him (and again, I was playing with them; they were close friends of Reebop). Gabriel and his peers formed Genesis at Charterhouse before they'd even heard of Roxy Music, and all that band, but most particularly Gabriel, had far too much talent, ego and drive not to ever be hugely successful in their own right and on their own terms. Ditto Bowie and Talking Heads. The fact that many great musicians have all been connected in some way with Eno down the years is just a testament to how the gravitational attraction of music causes all sources to flow downhill and form pools of various sizes, colours and depths.

Other than that, a nice precis of the Can style (if indeed that's not in itself an oxymoron).

[Special author note: True enough, but I think you're taking that line a bit more literally than it was intended to be taken. Although I'm not sure I've ever seen anybody call Steve Hillage (of whose existence many music fans are even hardly aware) a bigger influence on New Age than Another Green World].

Francis Mansell <> (26.01.2004)

Just a point of information, George, on your introduction to Can, regarding their line-ups: they were initially formed by Schmidt, Czukay, Liebezeit, Karoli and an American flautist and electronic composer by the name of David Johnson in June 1968. They almost immediately performed a concert, which was recorded and released on a cassette during the 1980s - the title escapes me at the moment. This recording is so formative that it doesn't really sound like Can and, to me at least, is not an entertaining listen. Malcolm Mooney didn't come on the scene until late October or early November 1968 as a result of a chance meeting with Irmin Schmidt's wife Hildegard. When he joined, it immediately became clear that they were a rock band and David Johnson at this point decided he did not want to be involved - at their first session with Mooney they recorded "Father Cannot Yell", the opening track on "Monster Movie". As a result Johnson does not appear on any of their records except the aforementioned cassette.

My other point is regarding the late 70s line-up: Reebop and Rosko Gee actually joined Can in the autumn of 1976, at which point Holger Czukay started playing shortwave radio and tapes instead of bass. Czukay finally left the band in May 1977 during a European tour, when Reebop accused him of stealing people's souls by using their music from the radio in Can's performances and attacked him on stage. (It's worth pointing out that they were subsequently reconciled and Reebop plays on a track on Czukay's excellent solo album Movies).

DELAY 1968

Kevin Macnutt <> (04.05.2003)

Hmmmm...George, it looks as if I am going to have to disagree with you here. While I think Delay 1968 is a fine album as well, I can't believe you called "Little Star of Bethlehem" the epitome of going nowhere as well as slow and plodding. That is probably one of the best songs from the Malcolm Mooney period, oddly enough (from college radio, I guess) it is one of the most well known. There is some great playing on that song, especially from Karoli. It is very much Can's attempt at a soul number, almost poking fun at it (could have this fit into their Ethnological Forgery Series?). The lyrics are excellent and the backing la-la-la-la-lala-las are infectious. What's even more amazing is you complement both "Nineteenth Century Man" and "Butterfly" instead. While both tracks have their merits, they are really nothing more than demo quality and clearly shows the band trying to get used to playing with each other.


Mike DeFabio <> (21.03.2000)

I like this a bit more. 'Father Cannot Yell' is a good song, with it's VU-ish type sound, but I wish they would use that neat chord sequence near the beginning a few more times. For most of the song, they just stay on one chord. D'you know the part I'm talking about? That really catchy part in the first half. The second verse, I guess you'd call it. I like that part, and I miss it when it's gone.

'Mary Mary So Contrary' IS beautiful. It sounds like a Jimi Hendrix ballad, until Mooney goes crazy in the middle.

'Outside My Door' is a cool garage rock song. Sounds kind of like something off of Freak Out! I like it.

I also think 'Yoo Doo Right' is an excellent song. The vocals are kinda lousy, but it's still a real good song.

There, those are all the songs.

So. I'd give this album an 8. It sounds nothing like the great funky stuff they'd do with Suzuki, but it's weird enough to make it worth buying.

And the cover has a big giant robot on it that looks like it's about to exterminate a really big bug that isn't on the cover, but might be behind that wall in the foreground. That's cool too.

Sergei Ryaguzoff <> (07.05.2000)

Actually i do like Mooney. He's got the rhythm. "You doo right" IS crazy and Mooney is crazy too. The song appears to be about the changes which happen to the main "hero" so he must be crazy and paranoid. I think Damo Suzuki lacks that something. Listen to 'Soup' from Ege Bamyasi, especially the part closer to the end - that is pretentious but not quite sincere.

Kevin Coyne <> (30.08.2001)

I hate to say it but I think you are way way off the mark with your evaluation of this album. Of all the Can albums this is the one with least self-indulgence and the fewest dead spots (think of all those self-consciously “avant-garde” clinkers on other albums like “Soup” and “Peking O”).

There are no bad tracks on this album (which is unusual for Can at the best of times): sure, I used to like “Mary Mary” more until I heard “Thief” from Delay 1968 and realized what it COULD have been; likewise, I love “Outside My Door” even though it doesn’t really sound like Can. But “Father Cannot Yell” and “Yoo Doo Right” are sheer 2000% gold-plated classics which sound as fresh today as when they were recorded – how can you complain about the recording quality of these tracks? Have you got a poor copy of the album? To my ears, these tracks sound pristine, clean and unnervingly precise. Dated? This may very well be the LEAST dated music of Can’s career, shorn of Karoli’s occasional lapses into 70's rock soloing and the tendency of the band to noodle along self-satisfiedly which became more and more of a problem as their career progressed.

How Can managed to make a 21-minute rock track NOT sound self-indulgent is part of the genius of this album and of early Can in general – everything is stripped back, everything is economical, every musician plays within himself and with tremendous coiled energy, there is no excess soloing or showboating, as Mooney sings on “Outside My Door”: “Any colour is bad”. Ah, Malcolm Mooney! Now I agree that he is no great singer and that he can sometimes be whiny and irritating but melody was never what Mooney was about, what he brought to Can was intensity both emotional and rhythmic. Rhythm is THE most important thing about Mooney’s singing (let’s call it vocalizing, shall we) – those moments in “Yoo Doo Right” when he and Liebezeit lock into a groove are amongst the most thrilling in Can’s oeuvre, it doesn’t matter what words he’s singing or what melody he’s singing, it’s the rhythm that matters. One person who recognized this was Jaki Liebezeit and he was right to think that the band lost this when Mooney left (though they gained from Suzuki’s melodicism).

All in all, this is a truly great album, one of the best debuts in rock history.


jeffrey b.good <> (22.02.2001)

I don't know what you've found in this one. Well, that guitar screaming in 'Deadlock' is catchy, and 'Mother sky' is the only great track on here. The others doesn't worth anything. And you say, THIS is better than TAGO - MAGO? An eight, no more, and only for that forty minutes on the second side and five on the first.

If you really want to know, what crautrock is, dig some records of Faust(for example, the same-named lp(1971) with X-Ray photo of a fist on the cover: it must be at least at your 'Odds' page), Craan or Trumpy. And, for more complecity, listen to industrial music pioneers like Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire.

Francis Mansell <> (26.01.2004)

Well, I like this album too, but I think it gets docked a couple of points in my unspecified scoring system for these things:

1) Unlike all their other albums (except specific compilations, which didn't come until much later) it is a compilation, of sorts, as the music comes from 5 or 6 different films and was recorded over a period of about 9 months, with a big gap in the middle when they didn't have a singer and were rather uncertain about how to proceed. Anyway the result of it being a compilation is that it doesn't have the unity of feel and sound that most of their albums have.

2) I've never been crazy about the first 3 tracks (the two cuts of 'Deadlock' and 'Tango Whiskyman'). Don't hate them, just don't think they're among Can's best. More than anything else on the album, "Deadlock" sounds like what it is, a film theme, which is not a criticism in itself, just that it's about the nearest they got to prog rock, and among the furthest they got from typical Can. Powerful performance though.

But once we're past those ... "Don't Turn The Light On ..." I love for its fabulous latin rhythms and the first appearance of their favoured 4 note descending riff, though Damo Suzuki claims he didn't like it as he wanted to do harder rock. "Soul Desert" is Malcolm Mooney on the verge of the breakdown that forced him to return to the USA - one of their most minimal & hypnotic musically, with one of the most desolate vocal performances I've ever heard - no George, it isn't easy listening, but he isn't putting that voice on to wind you up, he is in a very bad place, but actually I think it is some of his best singing, a desperate howl of sadness and paranoia. No, I don't listen to it very often! And after that, I think we pretty much concur, I love "Mother Sky" to death, for much the same reasons you do, i.e. the incredible hypnotic drumming and the evil guitar. But one point you perhaps are unaware of in your description of it as a jam - the edits and overdubs. This piece is given structure partly by being edited down from a longer jam, you can hear quite a few abrupt changes. This is really a general point about Can, Holger Czukay was a wizard with the editing block and has a huge influence on how the finished song sounds by sequencing the best bits - and who knows if they were even played in that order?

Plus, although right up to Soon Over Babaluma they were using 2-track machines, they did do overdubs - as I understand it, the process was 1) jam; 2) edit 3) overdub, though I guess the latter didn't always happen. The edits are audible on many of their records. "Yoo Doo Right" started as a jam that lasted HOURS and was edited down to 20 minutes. And finally, "She Brings The Rain" is gorgeous, but is perhaps one of the few things they ever did that isn't ahead of its time. I can imagine it being sent back in time a couple of years and put out as a single, the psychedelic lyrics are pure 1967. One of their best TUNES as well.

Robert Toll <> (30.01.2006)

I just wanted to add a few things to remarks about Soundtracks. Firstly, it is only film soundtracks, Can never suggested that they were anything else and rarely performed these numbers live ('Deadlock' a couple of times, 'Mother Sky' occasionally - probably the one piece from the compilation they should never have attempted live since it is edited so heavily). That tends to mean that they are pretty much first time takes without much later development. With the exception of 'Mother Sky', Can hardly changed the tracks from their original groundtracks, Jaki overdubbed flute onto 'Don't Turn the Light on'.

'Mother Sky' was an exception to most of Can's work at that time. There are far more edits within the piece than are apparent, probably around 200 over the length of the piece, and it is almost unrecognisable from the groundtrack, which is a relatively calm session, not unlike the start of 'Yoo Doo Right', featuring Holger's bass for 2 notes in a bar, Micky doing a very simple riff, and Jaki just being Jaki. After that Jaki added percussion, Damo added his vocals, then Holger spliced the thing before Micky added the screaming guitar. Irmin's contribution is minimal (as it was through to 1971) and this is a real production piece showing off Holger's editing brilliance more than anything else. Live performances of the piece never worked.

'Don't turn the Light On, Leave me alone' is probably the next gem, with its highly syncopated rhythms and latin percussion. The understated guitar and general subtlety are reminiscent of another Can gem: 'I'm So Green' on Ege Bamyasi, while the rhythm is reminscent of TV Spot on Limited Edition. It is only towards the end that the guitar emphasises just how funky this piece is.

Secondly I think it was a mistake to include so much material from Deadlock, which by Can's standards of that time is rather mediocre. 'Soul Desert' is rather untypical of the music to Madchen Mit Gewalt, with pieces such as Deadly Doris being much more upbeat, while 'She Brings the Rain' is totally untypical of the music to Bottom, which in the main uses Holger's short wave radio as the basis for a series of extremely intense studio jams. Were any of these to be included on the album it would have taken a wholly different perspective, but I suppose they felt that some respite was needed.


Mike DeFabio <> (18.03.2000)

You like Can? Hey everybody! George likes Can! I like Can. Why they're so unknown, I have no idea. 'Cause this album is a big hunk of greatness. I haven't heard Soundtracks, but if it's better than this one, it must be DARN good, because not a whole lot can beat this. 'Paperhouse' and 'Bring Me Coffee or Tea' are beautiful, 'Mushroom', 'Oh Yeah', and 'Halleluwah' rock out like nothing else on the planet, and the other two are the strangest pieces of anything I have ever heard. 'Augmn' is just 17 minutes of spooky noises and a drum solo, but you know what? I love it. If you don't like it, you weren't paying attention. Yes, it's self-indulgent as heck, but that's hardly a bad thing. Sometimes great things come out of self-indulgence. Like 'Augmn', for example. It takes me on a freaky mind trip every time I hear it.

'Peking O' is noise and screaming. You probably hate it, I think it's funny, although overlong.

Jaki Liebezeit is a really great drummer. Just thought I'd add that.

So in conclusion, I think Tago Mago is one of the best albums I have heard in a very very very long time and I think all you people should run out and get it right now!

<> (22.01.2002)

Wow... this is an incredible album! Sure... "Peking O" and "Augmn" are out there, but get past that and you have one of the greatest rock albums ever created. Jaki Leibezeit is AMAZING. The percussion on this album is some of the best I have ever heard. Michael Karoli's guitar work is certainly nothing to complain about either, especially on "Paperhouse" and "Oh Yeah". "Mushroom" is a great song and at times can really put the listener into a calm trance. "Bring Me Coffee or Tea" is beautiful in its dark mystery. "Halleluhwah" is incredible. "Oh Yeah" is one funky song. "Peking O" and "Augmn" are strange, but grow on you with time. And "Paperhouse"-- FANTASTIC. One of the best songs I have ever heard. The eerie opening, the solos, the middle trance, the climactic screams of Suzuki, the sudden softening of the mood in the changing drum beat, the transformed reprise of the opening, the smooth transition into mushroom--- WOW that song is AMAZING.

I think that it is the best on an album of inventive, complex, influential, and visionary songs. Maybe it is not the most accessable album to the untrained ear, but don't let that get in the way. Yes-throw away convention, and if you don't have this album- go out and buy it NOW.

Nick Vesey <> (29.11.2002)

This was the first Can album I ever bought, because I'd gotten quite a few reccomendations from people who had a mutual taste in music with me. Anyway, I wasn't very impressed when I heard it, even though I definitly liked it. I mean, the songs were very good, but there just wasn't much that really stood out and caught my attention. Soon afterwards I went out and bought Ege Bamyasi and was able to enjoy that one much more, because it was easier for me to sink my teeth into. Anyway, I'd keep returning to Tago, because I noticed I was slowly beginning to appreciate it more, and each subsequent listen I'd notice something that made each track more distinct, and less like some rambling song that just passes through my ear phones and not much else. 'Halleluwah' is my favorite too, Jaki is indeed drumming like a machine on this one. I also love the coda of the song, with the spinning, spiralling and swirling keyboards Damo's repetitive but captivating chants. 'Paperhouse' is my second favorite song, especially for the searing guitar and the completely otherworldly feeling of it. I also like the 2nd side, even though I don't adore it close to as much as the 1st half. I'll usually listen to it as background music, even though theres usually something interesting going on to keep my attention. One last thought... I agree with your statement that Tago Mago sounds like musical schizophrenia, but to me it also reminds me of two other things... those are, a bizarre and beautifal alien landscape, as well as a sterile and ominous laboratory occupied by a mad scientist. For me, this album could be a soundtrack for any of those three things.

Francis Mansell <> (26.01.2004)

For me this album is almost beyond criticism, but there's plenty to say about it.

Perhaps my least favourite song (which means it's very good!) is the opener, 'Paperhouse', then 'Mushroom' comes in with the funkiest drum pattern outside of a James Brown record. Bleak as it is (I've tended to think that it's about the nuclear attacks on Japan at the end of World War 2), you sure can dance to it. Then 'Oh Yeah' ... beautifully hypnotic beat. 'Halleluwah' ... is another astoundingly funky tune, and I would be a happy man if it went on for another 10 minutes. That awesome build up towards the end is mindblowing. You can dance to this one too!

Now this is where I part company with you, George, 'cos I really like 'Aumgn' and 'Peking O', especially the former. It's worth bearing in mind that, having their own studio, in which they played more or less daily when not touring, they probably recorded an awful lot of weird stuff like this. By all accounts, they originally intended the album to be a single LP featuring the first 4 tracks, but Irmin Schmidt's wife (who was their manager) persuaded them of the brilliance of these tracks, which they thought were too weird to release! 'Aumgn' is kind of like a magic word, and one of the most sinister things I've ever heard. I love the berserk drum solo at the end (actually a duo because Irmin was banging on a chair; he does the AAAAAUUUUUMMMMMGNNNN vocals too). 'Peking O' ... goes back to my comments about edits regarding Soundtracks. Except this piece is cut together from several totally different recordings rather than parts of one jam. It is the most demented thing they ever recorded (or released anyway...) and perhaps the part with the mad gibbering and the drum machine isn't my favourite but the end section with the hugely echoed drums is fantastic - eat yer hearts out Pink Floyd! And then finally 'Bring Me Coffee Or Tea' (relatively) gently brings you back to somewhere near the real world ... "I'll be ready in a jiffy ..." is one of Damo's more intelligible lines.

One thing I'm not too sure about is your comments about synthesizers. Irmin Schmidt mostly played a Farfisa organ. He used some sort of electronic box of tricks to treat the sound (I'm not sure he even had this in 1970), but not a synthesizer until much later.

My advice to those who've not heard Can: maybe start with Future Days, Ege Bamyasi or Soundtracks before you try this one - it's definitely their most out there. But as George says, way ahead of its time and one of the most influential albums ever.

Jason Saenz <> (08.07.2004)

I just bought this album after reading your reviews, it's really good but I dont recommend it that much if your not really familiar with Can. If you don't tolerate non-traditional dense and psycho noisy music then stick with E.L.P. or Yes. This is real fucked up shit!!!!!!!!!! Druggy trippy vocals, weird background noises, spacey synth's, the drum is different and really ahead of time, flawless simple drumming without the need of complexity, just perfect. At first I was excepting something more musically varied because the songs are all really similiar, but you have to really get into this album and forget about everything you know about music, this is really different and it might be a turn off if you're ears are not ready but if you are really interested in listening to CAN, then I recommend buying Cannabilism 1, thats good for starters.


Mike DeFabio <> (31.08.2000)

Not as fantastically awesome as Tago Mago, but few records are. This album is... well, it's real good! It sounds... exactly like a Can album should sound. All the elements are in place: funky drummer, weird Japanese guy, other guys. And good songs. Can't have a Can album without good songs! Well, I'm sure they put out plenty of awful albums, but I haven't heard none of 'em. 'Sing Swan Song' is a lovely little song, 'Pinch' and 'Vitamin C' are funky fresh phat and dope, homey, and 'Soup' is... sheesh. That middle section is... hoo. Don't listen to it in the dark, kids. And it ends things with 'Spoon', which is one of the catchiest slices of avant-garde I've ever heard. Not a loser on here, folks. I give it a nine!


Mike DeFabio <> (20.07.2000)

It's definitely mellower and more "ambient" than their earlier stuff, but it's still quite good on its own. I've decided that all Can songs from this period are basically instrumental, because as far as I know, Suzuki isn't even singing real words. If Pink Floyd's "Great Gig In The Sky" is an instrumental (and it is), so is everything Can did from Tago Mago to Future Days. My personal favorite is the title track. Just a great song. It's ambient, but it's catchy at the same time. It takes so long for the music to finally come in, you don't even notice it at first. I thought this was kind of boring at first, and on my first listen I did in fact hit the "scan" button a few times, but you can't be in a hurry when you listen to this. Just let it happen by itself. The rest of the songs are nearly as good, though I disagree about the opening part of "Bel Air." I think the melody's kind of hokey. But that changes as the song goes along. I'd give this a nine.

Kevin Kane <> (02.12.2005)

I only want to talk about 'Moonshake,' which I don't think got its fair share of words in the review. 'Moonshake' is amazing for at least two reasons. First of all, aside from the instrumental break, the song's almost... normal. It's got a definite chord progression, a definite structure, a verse and a chorus, and it's the ideal length for a pop single. It wouldn't sound out of place on the radio, and when considered alongside songs like, for example, 'Mother Sky' or 'Halleluhwah' (not to mention even weirder songs), it's downright peculiar how normal it is, especially given the band's trajectory and the song's context (i.e. the rest of the songs on Future Days). But what makes 'Moonshake' the most amazing Can song, to me, is the fact that even though Jaki's beats and fills are laughably simple, the song grooves like no other Can song I've ever heard. His basic beat is the simplest drumbeat in the world (eighth notes on the hi hat, kick drum on 1 and 3, snare drum on 2 and 4), and most of his fills are sixteenth notes down the toms. This is the stuff most drummers learn in the beginning, and yet Jaki's able to make it sound eternally fresh. The rhythm section's so tight and the groove's so solid that 'Moonshake' might as well be a message to all the musicians of the world: you can play some of the most complex rhythms in the world, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't groove like this.


Michaelc <> (10.09.2002)

I'm suprised you have no comments yet about Soon Over Babaluma. Perhaps because the sound on the CD issue is so flat it hasn't become popular. It is probably my favourite Can album. It has 'Dizzy' which is great in the way that 'Spoon' is - funky and odd and not too long. 'Come Sta, La Luna' with the crow squawks and weird gentle spoken bits is very ambitious and filmy in the way that Czukay's later Movies was, but still also great pop. It's supposed to sound late night and astral/trippy, but also slightly parodying this as well, like some Hammer Horror soundtrack.

Admittedly 'Splash' is weak - a long workout that doesn't work. But it leads into 'Chain Reaction' and 'Quantum Physics' which are really one piece of music and an amazingly ambitious one which risks being pretensious but comes off. The whole thing is a long fade into a sort of still nothing, but very tightly controlled. Few rock bands have ever played this subtly or closely. I read a review somewhere (NME I think!) which said it was "a soundtrack for the stars going out" which would normally have me running for the baff bag but it really is.

Anyway - get hold of the vinyl LP if you can, or if not at least the CD.


valentin cenuse <> (06.08.2000)

Although I consider this album less interesting than the other albums of CAN, yet 'Unfinished' saves the album being one of the most interesting and eeriest piece that CAN has ever made.It remembers of TAGO MAGO period. Anyway TAGO MAGO together with UMMAGUMMA of PINK FLOYD are the the greatest albums in the history of the avangarde rock. No one will ever equal these two terrible albums.

An old fan of CAN

Francis Mansell <> (13.07.2004)

Yeah, I'm with Valentin Cenuse here, I really like "Unfinished" (mind you, I think a lot of the studio stuff on Ummagumma is rubbish). It's created from two separate sessions. One features the rather beautiful rhythmless new-agey music most prominent at the end, and the other features an accident: Karoli's guitar started picking up a radio station, so they just went with it and then edited in bits of the other piece. Karoli didn't even play the guitar, they just played with the controls and treatments. One for that relaxed moment when you're just drifting off to sleep, perhaps.

As for the rest of it, I'm not over keen on "Hunters & Collectors" (though it features a nice riff which Holger Czukay later re-used to much better effect on his "Movies" album) and I think "Half Past One" is the writing on the wall for the really boring later stuff, definitely the worst track on the album, but I pretty much concur with your comments on "Full Moon On The Highway" and "Vernal Equinox" - the latter as you say contains some quite astounding bass-playing, never mind the rest of the band. My only problem with this track is that it isn't longer - I think this is the last truly great thing they did, though I enjoy "I Want More" and "Animal Waves".

"Full Moon On The Highway" is quite an old song though, they used to play it live in the Damo Suzuki days and Damo was apparently quite miffed that they didn't give him a composer credit. You can hear them playing it in the February 1972 concert film that came with the box set. Nice bit of hard rock though, and I love the way it's mixed, shame none of them were more characterful singers. And "Red Hot Indians" bowls along in an entertaining and funky fashion and again their newly acquired 16-track machine gives an excuse for some quite mutated mixing on the fade. So an inconsistent album, but the high points are damn fine. Shame they got so boring after this.


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Kevin MacNutt <> (07.01.2003)

While this is not really one of my favorite Can albums either, I do have to correct you on a certain point. The voices used in 'Animal Waves' are not computerized Eastern Voices, but tapes of Vietnamese women used in Holger's 1969 work titled Boat Woman Song from the Canaxis album. Czukay began working with tapes and samples during this period, much the way he continued throughout his solo career, especially given the fact that he always samples from his own archives. I am also surprised that you did not mention that 'Don't Say No' is a retread of 'Moonshake' from Future Days.


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Robert Toll (21.02.2006)

In 1987, after much "Will they, won't they" speculation, Malcolm Mooney arrives in Europe from New York and at last makes a rendezvous with the original members of the band - the assignation is on. They play together for several weeks in Micky's studio in the South of France and several hours of music are laid down. After more than a year of deliberation and painstaking studio work the album is completed early in 1989.

Perhaps inevitably the results disappoint the expectations. Give the Drummer Some promises well, a relaxed but upbeat number in which ghostly figures from Irmin's keyboard float around, darting between those characteristic riffs from Micky's guitar and the more dominant piano chords that recall Irmin's more aggressvie moments on the keyboard. Holger's bass propels it along and we have a well-produced piece. In Hoolah Hoolah Micky's guitar comes out from the shadows, and we hear some of those sounds that emulate a steel factory in full production, a train crash and other effects that typified Can's live gigs, but were seldom to be found on record. Pretty banal lyrics on this one. The WithoutLaw Man gives us a lazy Sunday afternoon, some delicate percussion work and Holger feeling content much of the time with just 2 chords - hardly minimal, but at least a suggestion of it. In Below this Level the real metamorphoses is apparent. Malcolm Mooney has obviously been hankering after a place in the hall of fame amongst the great blues artists, despite the raw elementalism shown elsewhere. But the mood is not successfully underpinned in this number which is really quite boring. The ethereal introduction to Like a New Child carries suggestions of Sodam and Gommorah. Some rampant trombone work is swamped in an avalanche of sound while Malcolm Mooney croons away self indulgently. The piece develops into an instrumental number, which maybe it should have been all along. Extreme Hollywood drama and pathos introduces In the Distance Lies The Future, but is it only Irmin who is working with film music just now ? The mood is not matched by the other members of the group and the result is rathy messy. But everyone really tries hard in On the Beautiful Side of a Romance, too hard one feels. The piece is over-produced on a theme that does not support the effort; the image is a weak one leaving little impression. Drugs and Bugs (Movin Right Along) develops the pace of Spray and Splash, though is a long way from the subtlety of the former piece. Malcolm Mooney propels the piece along and it is one of the successes of the album. But why does it stop when it does ? Overall one gets the feeling that there has been an over-riding subservience to produce pieces of a commercial length. Who told them that it is necessary to produce 4 pieces of 4-7 minutes duration each on each side of the original LP ?

The album bears closest descent from their last album as a group: Can. It is refined and mostly sophisticated, with few hints of the runaway extraversion, and genious, of Malcolm Mooney's original period with the group. Overall, not a bad album, but one gets the feeling that Can have become the victims of technology. These are production numbers, not the result of those moments of spontaneous musical genious and inspiration that the original Can albums had. In retrospect one might say that with Malcolm Mooney's new "clean living" image the group are lacking an inspirational leader to take them down the path of truly spontaneous improvisation which might often lead to a dead-end, and occasionally to those moments of real Can magic. Maybe Damo Suzuki would have been the person to steer them in this direction, can anyone get him back off his eternal journey ? Alternatively, where did that Raj get to ?


David Goodwin <> (23.03.2004)

Regarding Can's Radio Waves...I'm pretty sure this is a semi-bootleg of some sort, but I've seen it in all sorts of legitimate stores so I really can't be sure. That said, note that "Turtles Have Short Legs" and "Shikaku Maru Ten" appear officially as bonus tracks on Cannibalism 2 and are taken from tape sources there (whereas they're clearly from vinyl on Radio Waves). I absolutely *adore* 'Turtles Have Short Legs', so finding this upgrade was perhaps more important to me than it was to you.

Also, the fun live version of "Paperhouse" actually has corresponding video footage going along with it. More fun to watch than merely listen to, IMO.

Ilya Nemetz <> (11.04.2004)

this album rules dude I saw these guys 5 years ago dammit they were great

Nah, just kidding. All in all, an extremely solid archive release, mostly by virtue of live tracks (though I still prefer Live Music 1971-1977 in this respect). The B-sides aren’t bad at all, either (especially 'Turtles Have Short Legs'). Also, I’m greatly delighted someone else seems to enjoy the extra-long RW version of 'Up The Bakerloo' as much as I do. Regarding the rating: more like 12, IMHO. But that’s just a minor complaint, sure enough.

PS: That ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead mode’ joke is great. A high 13, I’d say! :-)

Francis Mansell <> (13.07.2004)

As David Goodwin says, this album is a bootleg. Though it was available in regular stores here in London for a long time. The titling of the longest track as "Up The Bakerloo Line ..." is spurious - I think this is a result of it being confused with another recording they made for the BBC which title. I've also heard it described as a live version of "Pinch" - which is probably also rubbish.

What it is, is basically their half of a BBC radio programme called In Concert, recorded in early 1973. I think titles are pretty superfluous, I can't hear evidence of anything else I've ever heard by them, it's just a spontaneous jam. An absolutely amazing one. I have heard a version of this which was taken from a BBC master tape. It was slightly longer, proving that the version on this album was recorded off the radio, where they presumably faded it a couple of minutes earlier to avoid the programme over-running.

The track which was called "Up The Bakerloo Line With Anne" was recorded for a BBC studio session during the same UK tour, and is/was available on the mostly excellent Peel Sessions album. That is also a spontaneous (and brilliant) jam, featuring some quite awesome drumming, but only about half the length of this one! Its title derives from it having been recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale studios, which were near to a station on the Bakerloo Line of the London underground railway. Since you like Can so much, George, I encourage you (and any other Can fans reading this who haven't heard it) to track this album down at the earliest opportunity and review it, as it's up there with their best work.

Of the B-sides, I find "Turtles Have Short Legs" almost unlistenable, but "Shikaku Maru Ten" (the B-side of the #1 German hit "Spoon") is brilliant, and the version on Cannibalism 2 is unaccountably and annoyingly shortened by about a minute. How much more annoying, then, that this full length version has lost the first second or so - so a complete version is not available ...

Robert Toll <> (25.03.2006)

Just to add to some comments already made by some of your readers about the first track on this album "Up the Bakerloo Line". The title is confused with a track of the same name that was recorded for the Anne Nightingale show and later put out on the bootleg The Peel Sessions. The chronolgy is actually this:

73/02/19 Can record a session for the BBC in front of a live audience for the program "In Concert". This was broadcast on 73/03/03.

73/02/20 Can record another two sessions in the BBC studios with no audience. One of these was broadcast on 73/03/13 on the Anne Nightingale show and was later given the title "Up the Bakerloo Line with Anne Nightingale".

The recording on Radio Waves is from the mastertape of the "In Concert" session and the mood of the piece is nothing like that of "Up the Bakerloo Line". It's pulsating and dynamic throughout, whereas "Up the Bakerloo Line" is stodgy, lacks enthusiasm and never really gets going. I totally agree with you about how frigging cool the piece is, it's got to be right up there with the very best of Can's live performances, but I tend to disagree when you dish out the honours. While Micky does some fantastic stuff at the climaxes, for much of the time his role is more that of keeping Jaki under control, of keeping a really tight rhythmic structure to the piece. It's really Damo who hots things up. Micky once said of Damo, comparing him to Malcolm Mooney "we went from being a shouting band to being a whispering band". It was true that Damo in studio was very quiet - he tended to get lost altogether in Future Days. But put him up on stage and that all changed. In this piece he really drives the music along. There was a strong rapport between Jaki and Damo, more so than between Jaki and Holger, so Damo's drive is picked up immediately, and we're off. Just listen to how Damo leads from the front.

It's interesting to compare this performance with "Up the Bakerloo Line" - the key difference is that In Concert was live and Can had an enthusiastic audience to interact with. Up the Bakerloo line was not recorded in front of an audience. It's not that Can weren't used to being in a studio - they spent most of their time recording in their Inner Space studio, which was virtually their home in Weilerswist. It was more that since it was their home (unlike a lot of bands they did not have to rent studio space at so many DM per hour) there was little pressure on them to instantly produce.

LIVE MUSIC 1971-1977

Robert Toll <> (01.02.2006)

How can you call Jynx a best SONG, George? I can't hear any vocals, which surely is a prime definition of a song. Like those annoying times when you're downloading movements of a symphony and the program refers to them as "Song No 1", etc !!! Surely we can find a better word ?

And yes, I'd like to hear live recordings from the Suzuki era that are better recorded than Colchester Finale, but they are hard to find - damn hard. I really can't agree with the notion that it's the least intriguing track on the album. It's like a long drawn out crescendo of excitement, at the start there are hints of Hallelujah and other episodes from Tago Mago, and the session gradually builds towards its apotheosis in the last 8 minutes or so. Skipping the first 20 minutes is like skipping the foreplay and just going for the climax - which might work for some, but Can deserve better. I agree that the recording is shitty - it WAS recorded by a member of the audience - but that's all that is available. Micky, who made the compilation, made a conscious decision to go for musical quality over recorded quality in selecting the pieces. At this time the band was going through a lot or recording company problems (like, you know, Abi Ofarim wanting a finger in cans of Ege Bamyasi, United Artists fighting things out with Virgin, etc) and they lacked the stability that would have given a company time to think about a live recording. The one professional recording attempt that was made (at Edinburgh) was loused up by the recording engineers, and after that it was too late.

I'm surpised you didn't make a mention of 'Fizz', this piece really fizzes (actually the title is a play on the pieces' key of F#) and shimmers along, displaying Herr Schmidt's wizardry on keyboard as he takes us on one of his flights. Then there's Kata Kong, which has all the hallmarks of Can's Tago Mago magic, developing from a subtle and hypnotic rhythm to a stultifying climax. Can't wait for Can Live 2, even if there are some shitty recordings, as long as the music quality is up there with Colchester !

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