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Can - Cannibalism 1 CD (album) cover

CANNIBALISM 1

Can

 

Krautrock

2.88 | 13 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is probably the best available one-stop, single disc introduction to the brightest star in the Krautrock constellation, but the generous rating is strictly for the uninitiated. There isn't anything new here to tempt the already confirmed fan, who at any rate should already own the entire CAN catalogue (and if not, shame on you).

The twelve-track "Cannibalism" compilation spans the first (and best) six albums released by the band between 1969 and 1974 (actually only five albums are represented: the instrumental "Spray", off "Future Days", didn't make the transition from vinyl to CD). The disc begins and ends with the first and last tracks from their debut album "Monster Movie" - a nice gesture to symmetry, but in between all bets are off. I won't attempt to describe all the varieties of style on display here; it's enough to say the twelve selected tracks could almost be the work of (at least) six different bands, united only by the intensity of their collective vision and their commitment to uninhibited musical exploration.

The music of CAN was first and foremost a 1960s phenomenon, but not the now horribly dated Haight-Asbury psychedelic Summer of Love variety. Theirs was a decade of social and political turmoil, reflected here in a 75-minute sampling of sometimes uneasy listening, crude and creative as only the best Krautrock can be. So the gentle, bluesy ballad "She Brings the Rain" follows the ear-bending aural pile driver of "Mother Sky", before leading into the hallucinogenic tribal funk of "Mushroom", and then to the skewed metronome pop precision of "One More Night".

Scattered in between are a few listener-friendly excerpts from their more free-form outer limit improvisations, drastically abbreviated from their original album versions, and sounding a little lost when taken out of context. The epic 18+ minute "Halleluwah" suffers most, with a mere five minute extract giving no clues to the accumulative power of the "Tago Mago" album jam, which filled an entire side of vinyl.

Wisely, the monumental "Yoo Doo Right" (from the aptly titled "Monster Movie" album) was left intact. This is CAN at their primitive, embryonic best, and it's the perfect litmus test for new listeners undecided about exploring the band in depth. If you can handle a repetitive two-note bass riff for twenty (yes, twenty) minutes, layered with jungle percussion and hair-curling, distorted electric guitar, and topped off by a typically raw, unconventional vocal performance by Malcolm Mooney (turning a girlfriend's letter into a schizophrenic rant), then you might be ready to enter the greater brotherhood of true CAN fandom.

This compilation in no way replaces or even supplements the original albums. Try it as a sampler, and if sufficiently intrigued by all means continue on to the unabridged albums, if you dare.

[One quick note: this entire CD is also included in the two-disc "Can Anthology" collection, an even better bargain for curious newcomers, with a much wider range of material and a few non-album rarities for diehard collectors. And a petty complaint: the re-arrangement of tracks here from the original vinyl compilation, together with the removal of two songs to fit it onto a single CD, makes a mess out of the credits, which were never edited to match the changes. So Damo Suzuki does not sing on tracks 4 or 7 as shown (that's Malcolm Mooney); and Mooney doesn't sing on tracks 2, 8, or 14: the first is an instrumental, the second features Suzuki, and there is no track 14. Hopefully the upcoming Spoon Records re-mastered edition will fix the typos.]

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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