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Can - Delay 1968 CD (album) cover

DELAY 1968

Can

 

Krautrock

3.60 | 151 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Prepare to Meet Thy Pnoom

Butterfly - A one chord jam that does tend to outstay it's welcome seeing as how it's but a short sprint to the medicine cabinet off 9 minutes. Can come across here like a garage band who neglected to remove the car beforehand. (Something appears to be cramping their style and it's not the exhaust fumes) Despite a promising start featuring a huge resonating strummed chord from Karoli and some delicious contradictory harmonic choices from Schmidt's organ, like the parked Volkswagen, this just ain't going anywhere in a hurry. Not a very auspicious opening fellas....

Pnoom - rather silly little creaking joke. Guess you had to be there. Somehow managed to tickle PA's own recalcitrant agent provocateur sufficiently to use same as their moniker?

Nineteen Century Man - A rather slapdash and lazy pastiche of cod R'n'B with the Can signature card of endlessly repeated random nonsense via that alternative Mooney orifice located south of his trouser belt. Imagine James Brown stoned off his tits and jamming with the Velvet Underground and you are halfway there. Probably culpable in the creation of stoner rock.

Thief - As if by some miraculous transformation, the four Colognians suddenly live up to the rabid hype heaped upon their shrugging shoulders after all these years. Here we have in their home-made incubator the little egg that would hatch into the handsome black swan set free by Joy Division, Cure, PIL and the Banshees. Incredibly prescient and hauntingly beautiful. One thing that this band cannot be accused of is mediocrity, as I have invariably found their music to be either spine cracking brilliant or not worth the dirt between a busker's toes. (even Damo Suzuki's)

Man Named Joe - Jazz gets the can't be arsed so we'll call it instant composition treatment this time with underwhelming results not helped in the least by Mooney's vocal which appears to have been delivered wearing a particularly pungent sock over his head. Redeemed slightly by some seriously wicked playing from Liebezeit who betrays his past as that of a highly accomplished jazz drummer.

Uphill - One of my favorite bands of all time is the Fall, and until I heard this track I honestly believed that the spiky Mancunians were free of all traces of hippy lineage in their reference materials. Not so, as during Uphill we catch a glimpse of the palpable influence that the Germans would exert on one of their biggest fans Mark E. Smith in the years to come. The little brother that Sister Ray always wished she'd had.

Little Star of Bethlehem - Like so many other sublime Can moments, this can be construed as either uncanny genius or perhaps just plain 'fluky' and for once we get to hear what an intoxicating voice Mooney has when he sings conventionally (or sobers up) His lyrics remain cryptically impenetrable as ever, but I for one just cannot hear these lines without breaking into a wide chuckling grin:

- Froggie and Toadie carried off the tangerine seeds one by one and came back for the popcorn after dinner asking do you want some? Asking do you want waterlillys in your bathtub? -

Pay close attention to the rhythm engine at the heart of Can and you will hear a sound oft imitated but never equaled by most of their avowed devotees and wannabees. Holger Czukay's bass, if heard in isolation, would probably sound about as promising as a baritone elastic band, but wedded to the approach adopted by a jazz drummer playing cyclic rock, the sum conspires to alleviate the unrelenting pulse of this hypnotic music with subtle funky compensating dynamics and authoritative weight. What's perhaps ironic is that his band-mates often encouraged Liebezeit to play 'like a machine' but such consummate feel cannot be replicated by any amount of humanising software algorithms. It is perhaps for this phenomenon alone, that much of Can's work is imbued with such enduring longevity and appeal. If stripped to the bare bones of bass and drums, they are the greatest dance band in the history of Prog.

I cannot imagine Can shifted that many units during their lifetime, but like their kindred spirits the Velvet Underground, they are probably responsible for everyone who bought one of their albums, forming a band.

Can's shorter tracks appeal to me much more than the stamina and attention sapping 'groove marathons' that seem to last for days on albums like Tago Mago, so for this reason I found it very difficult to come up with a satisfying rating for Delay.

Let's see...I can press the Lemminator Algorithm into service here: 7 tracks with 3 baby clangers (treat Pnoom as plaque between the teeth of a giant) with 1 above average track plus 2 shafts of iridescent and eternal light wedded to a shedload of ballsy attitude and energy = 3 stars y'all

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |

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