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Can - Saw Delight CD (album) cover

SAW DELIGHT

Can

 

Krautrock

3.27 | 67 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
2 stars One of the few things worse than a band sticking around past its expiration date is when it makes a major change to its lineup in order to make it possible for it to stick around in the first place. Holger Czukay effectively left the group during these sessions; he has no bass- playing credits on the album, instead leaving us only with credits for "wave receiver, spec. sounds" and vocals on the first track. In his place the band brought in former Traffic bassist Rosko Gee, and while he certainly sounds competent, the fact remains that Can was, essentially, Holger's band, which means that the impact of this swap doesn't just manifest itself in the basslines alone. There's a serious dearth of spark in these tracks, which turns Can from a band I'm interested in listening to into one of thousands of jam- based bands.

Another lineup change occurred in making this album, one which could have been intriguing but instead is executed as badly as it probably could have been. Another former Traffic member, with the great name of Reebop Kwaku Baah, came in as, no joke, a second percussionist. Reebop was big on "ethnic" sounds and rhythms, and in theory this should have made him a perfect addition to the band and a good foil for Jaki. Unfortunately, instead of bringing out the best in Jaki, Reebop ends up completely overshadowing him, as Jaki spends most of the album in a straightup timekeeping mode (and mixed down, no less), and isn't even able to do that in a manner close to his Human Drum Machine past. In short, then, the net result of these moves is essentially that the band traded its vaunted rhythm section for part of the rhythm section of Traffic, a move I'd rate somewhere along the lines of trading a Mickey Mantle rookie card for a picture of Homer Simpson sleeping on the couch in his underwear.

When all is said and done, the low rating comes not from the lineup changes themselves, but the fact that this album basically bores the crap out of me. The opening "Don't Say No" seems to have some bouncy, rhythmic promise at the beginning, but the essence of it is very similar to "Moonshake" from Future Days, and this track does a good job of showing that it was a good idea to make its predecessor three minutes instead of almost six-and-a-half. The lyrics are unacceptably inane, the Reebop scat-singing throughout annoys the crap out of me, and not even Karoli's guitar tricks (he seems to be the only person interested in stepping up and doing anything over this endlessly tedious groove) saves things.

"Sunshine Day and Night," which follows it, is dancable, but unlike the various tracks on Flow Motion, it lacks strong enough gimmicks from Karoli and Schmidt to let me focus on something other than, "Wow, this song is almost completely empty." "Call Me" is a vague jumble of a four-note bassline repeated ad infinitum, some "atmospheric" keyboard sounds, little effective guitar, and Rosko demonstrating a horrible singing voice while tackling a rambling, totally forgettable vocal melody. And the biggie of the album, the fifteen minute "Animal Waves," does at least have a nice keyboard pattern to loop forever instead of an ugly keyboard pattern to loop forever, but seeing as everything on top of it is essentially listening to Can autopilot as they've never autopiloted before, you're not going to see me get excited. And finally, they close with a vaguely okay pop ballad thats completely unlike everything else on the album, but while I don't mind hearing it here, it's definitely not a song I'm ever going to seek out to hear ever again.

So basically, Can left me with something that I get almost no enjoyment out of, which means a low grade is certain. On the other hand, listening to it doesn't leave me with an overpowering urge to stab my ears out with a knife, unlike albums that have gotten a 1-star rating from me, so ' stars seems right.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |

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