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Can - Tago Mago CD (album) cover

TAGO MAGO

Can

 

Krautrock

3.92 | 435 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars Can's most well known album but it is not their best and is very inconsistent. This is not the place to start with these guys; check out Future Days or Ege Bamyasi first. Having said that, this still has the band's best three songs: "Paperhouse", "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah". This is the first album with Japanese born Damo Suzuki(although he appears on most of the songs on Soundtracks). If this album was just the first four songs, I would give it 4 stars without hesitation.

"Paperhouse" begins with the beginning of "Augmn". There is about three different sections to the song. This is the result of Holger Czukay editing what was probably an hour long jam. There is some really nice piano in this song. In the middle you hear Damo whispering "You just can't give back the moon"; later on he yells the same sentence. Most of what he sings is hard to make out...I think this is partly intentional. "Mushroom" has some great drumming. "Oh Yeah" has some backwards cymbals and vocals at the beginning. Later on Damo is singing what sounds like Japanese.

"Halleluhwah" has a grove that would have made James Brown jealous. Although it is 18 1/2 minutes long, I wouldn't call this an 'epic'. It's a bit too repetitive and meanders a lot. It has some nice violin and sound effects though. Song titles from the album are mentioned in the lyrics. What was the second record of the double-album is what keeps me from giving this 4 or 5 stars. I don't mind avant-garde and experimental music. The late 60s/early 70s was a great time for musicians to stretch out and experiment. Most record companies back then allowed the artists this kind of freedom. But the results were extremely hit-or-miss.

"Augmn" has LOTS of echo. There is some creepy violin and vocals. At one point you hear a dog barking. It ends with percussion and synthesizer. Although Can were one of the first German groups to experiment with synthesizers, they use it sparingly on Tago Mago. You only really notice it on "Oh Yeah" and "Augmn". "Peking O" has some of the first use of a drum machine. At this point I can only think of a few funk/R&B artists who were using one. The song starts off with echoed vocals. Then the drum machine comes in and gets sped up during the song. I always liked the part were Damo goes: "Momma gonna, poppa gonna, momma gonna, poppa gonna". Makes me laugh. As the drum machine is at it's maximum speed, Damo yells all fast with some crazy electric piano playing. Some strange cacophony to end it.

"Bring Me Coffee Or Tea" is the last song and sounds like a breath of fresh air compared to the previous two. It has some Doors-like organ. It sounds like it could have been at home on Ege Bamyasi. The drumming of Jaki Liebezeit on this album is part funky/part jazzy. Michael Karoli's guitar playing sounds like a mix of blues, 50s rock 'n' roll and fuzzy 60s acid rock. A really good album but you need to hear the next two albums before this. Because of the repetitiveness of "Halleluhwah" and the avant madness of "Augmn" I can't recomend this to your average progger. 3 stars.

zravkapt | 3/5 |

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