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Can - The Peel Sessions CD (album) cover

THE PEEL SESSIONS

Can

Krautrock


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In the early 70s, British DJ John Peel was a great supporter of what later became known as Krautrock and Can recorded four sessions for his show (15 - 20 minutes recorded live at BBC studios) from 1973 - 5. Can's albums were all recorded at their own studio with Holger Czukay producing, so this really captures them in an unfamiliar setting. Can always incorporated a lot of improvisation in their shows, and most of the music on this CD is what Holger Czukay called 'spontaneous compositions.'

The CD starts with a lengthy piece from what is generally regarded as the classic Can line up with Damo Suzuki on vocals. Up The Bakerloo Line With Anne (possibly named for DJ Anne Nightingale) starts rather tentatively with some of Karoli's trademark blues raga guitar, before quickly hitting a Future Days style groove. Czukay and Liebezeit hold down the rhythm, while Karoli and Suzuki free form all over the place and Schmidt adds odd washes of colour from his keyboards. This is Can at the top of their game, demonstrating an almost telepathic interplay and conjuring up mind spinning sounds apparently out of thin air, although the fact that they had been playing together 10 hours a day for several years probably helped. When the piece fades out at 18.46 you're left with the feeling that they'd just got started and there was much more to come. The next two tracks were recorded 18 months later, and bear a strong resemblance to side 2 of Soon Over Babaluma. Return to BB City is a low key piece which recalls Quantum Physics, dominated by Schmidt's ghostly keyboards and Liebezeit's understated percussion. Tape Kebab is a fuzz guitar led freak out in the mould of Chain Reaction, but even more intense - this is one of Karoli's finest moments as a guitarist. Tony Wanna Go was recorded 9 months earlier, and is another long improvisation with some jaw dropping moments. Suzuki may have left, but in 1974 Can had lost none of their drive and fire. The last two tracks were recorded in 1975 at around the time of Landed, and show the band just past their peak. Geheim (Half Past One), as the title implies, is a reworking of Half Past One from Landed and features Michael Karoli on vocals - it's atmospheric stuff, but lacks the intensity of what went before. The last track is based around Irmin Schmidt's piano playing, and there is a splendid interplay with Karoli's guitar. It's highly structured and probably the closest thing to mainstream prog on the album, but as with Geheim there's a feeling that the band have lost some of their other worldliness and that they have started playing safe.

This is an excellent collection of largely original material from one of the seminal Krautrock bands, and shows their development over 2 years and 3 studio albums. Few of their contemporaries had such a talent for improvisation - King Crimson were probably the only other band at the time who had the same kind of interplay - but very little of their spontaneous music has been officially released. This album shows just how good they could be. Strongly recommended.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#63166)
Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first CAN album I heard. The first time I listened to it I was ROTFLMAO! I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take this seriously or not. But once my laughing fit was exhausted and I was laying on the floor, I was transported on one of the finest musical journeys of my life. Why some fans of experimental rock despise this stuff I will never understand. CAN is awesome. Now, after working my way through their discograpy, I know I prefer Tago Mago and Ege Baymasi, but this is still a highly recommended work.

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Send comments to kabright (BETA) | Report this review (#170429)
Posted Friday, May 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's such a shame that CAN didn't release some official live albums during their peak in the seventies. This was really the first one but it wasn't released until 1995. The Peel Sessions that these tracks were taken from happened from four different visits by the band between February of 1973 to May of 1975. Only one track features Damo on vocals and all but one of these tracks is a improv, so all new material for the CAN fan. It just seems so adventerous to me for these guys to go to the UK and go on John Peel's show and not play songs that they and their fans were familiar with. These guys rank right up there with KING CRIMSON for having balls of steel in doing such things. I must admit that at times this doesn't even sound like CAN.

"Up The Bakerloo Line With Anne" is the almost 19 minute opener with Damo on vocals.This is from February of 1973. A beat with vocals kicks in just before a minute as bass and guitar help out as well. It settles back just before 5 minutes. Guitar and drums to the fore around 7 minutes. Check out Damo a minute later ! They continue to jam the rest of the way. "Return To BB City" and the next track are from October of 1974. Atmosphere to start as different sounds come and go. I'm surprised at how spacey and atmospheric this is as Schmidt works his magic. "Tape Kebab" has this relaxed beat with laid back guitar. The sound becomes fuller. I really like this. An electronic sounding beat after 6 minutes joins in. Karoli starts to rip it up after 7 minutes. Great track !

"Tony Wanna Go" is from January of 1974 and is the second longest track at 14 1/2 minutes. A relaxed beat with guitar leads as spacey sounds sweep through. The guitar and beat become more prominant as they continue to jam. "Geheim (Half Past One)" is a re-worked version of "Half Past One" from "Landed". This and the final track are from May of 1975. We get reserved vocals from Karoli as intricate sounds including xylophone-like sounds come and go. "Mighty Girl" has this piano led intro. This is CAN ?! Guitar joins in as well.

Without question a must for CAN fans although right now this is a tough one to track down.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#833500)
Posted Friday, October 05, 2012 | Review Permalink

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