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DELAY 1968



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Can Delay 1968 album cover
3.62 | 167 ratings | 14 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Butterfly (8:20)
2. Pnoom (0:26)
3. Nineteen Century Man (4:18)
4. Thief (5:03)
5. Man Named Joe (3:54)
6. Uphill (6:41)
7. Little Star Of Bethlehem (7:09)

Total Time: 35:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Malcom Mooney / vocals
- Michael Karoli / guitar
- Irmin Schmidt / keyboards
- Holger Czukay / bass
- Jaki Liebezeit / drums

Releases information

Compilation of early (1968/69) outtakes of Can's work with singer Malcolm Mooney

Artwork: Eveline Grunwald

LP Spoon Records ‎- SPOON 012 (1981, Germany)

CD Spoon Records ‎- SPOON CD 012 (1989, Europe)
SACD Spoon Records ‎- SPOONSA 12 (2006, UK) Remastered by Andreas Torkler

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CAN Delay 1968 ratings distribution

(167 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAN Delay 1968 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
3 stars I really like this album. I don't know why I used to have a problem with Monster Movie (this album's successor, and CAN's first official release) and not this one, because they certainly share a lot of the same "distinct" characteristics. Malcom Mooney, of course, is the big one. If you've never heard his vocal style, it's not so much singing as what one could call "schizophrenic ranting." I think he actually did go nuts a few years down the line, which is no big surprise once you hear the stuff that spouts out of his mouth... Anyway, musically speaking, all the songs on this album are pretty similar: odd droning keyboards; driving, subtly shifting drum patterns; super-distorted guitars and sound effects; and of course, said shizophrenic ranting. The atmosphere is raw and electric, and there's little of what I would think of as conventionally "pretty." But, for me, the magic of this album (and of CAN in general) is that it all comes together to form music that is actually strikingly beautiful in an odd, indescribable way; so instead of paying attention to the elements (almost "punk-like," serious..) I would just plunge right in, and prepare to be bewildered.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars The German Velvet Underground's first album and late release . This should be viewed as a full-fledge bonafide Can album and another chance to hear Mooney period and enjoy it too. Do not be afraid of my comparison but this sounds most like Velvet Underground , but this is no disrespect as V U did some fine avant-garde music especially with John Cale in the band.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is one of CAN's better albums, in their top three in my opinion along with "Monster Movie" and "Tago Mago". While "Monster Movie" is officially their first album "Delay 1968" was really their first album recorded in 1968, but not released untiil 1981. Incredible really. Since this is where it all started i'll give a bit of background on the band. "In 1968 five young men moved into the Schloss Norvenich in Cologne, lent to them by a benevolent art dealer and proceeded to soundproof the place with egg boxes and army surplus matresses. Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and Holger Czukay both came from the academic world of New Music-both had been a pupil of Karlheinz Stockhaussen. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit had been part of a Free Jazz scene but now yearned to forego musical "freedom" in favour of repetition, monotony and grooves. Michael Karoli was younger than the rest of the group, a handsome young guitarist as close to the conventional rock createure as CAN possessed...finally there was Malcom Mooney, an African-American sculpture evading the draft, whom they met in Paris and at once conscripted into the CAN". Schmidt had made a trip to America where he encountered the sounds of Zappa and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND and soon those academic traditions were brushed away. Because of the tragic events in Germany in 1968 the band decided that they would be all equal with no one greater than another. No stars, no solos, no egos.This is stripped down in every way, with that fantastic beat they are known for with Mooney's drugged out vocals.

"Butterfly" might be my favourite song on here.The guitar is so aggressive and raw, and the beat is hypnotic with drugged out vocals. Organ arrives after 2 minutes.The beat becomes even more addictive 3 minutes in.The drumming becomes more prominant after 4 minutes.The song calms down and then builds back up with some good bass. "Pnoom" makes me laugh with the short little horn outbursts.The song ends with the sound of the microphone stand being knocked down to the floor. "Nineteen Century Man" is an R&B flavoured tune that is almost impossible to sit still through. Very catchy. Some DOORS-like organ 2 1/2 minutes in. Good song. "Thief" is different from the rest, even the vocals are reserved. Kind of a melancholic climate to this one. Some solemn sounding sax as well on this moving song. One of the top three tracks for me.

"Man Named Joe" features some crazy sounding vocals and sax. The song loses steam on purpose 3 minutes in. "Uphill" has this heavy, relentless beat throughout, as the vocals and guitar do what they please. "Little Star Of Bethleham" is the other top three song on this record for me. This one is a psychedelic beauty. The vocals on the intro sound like Chong as he tells us the story about froggy and toady carrying off the tangerine seeds one by one. Someone is completely fried ! This song has such a great trippy groove to it. Very relaxing tune as he almost raps out the lyrics.

If your a CAN fan you need to get this one, you will not be disappointed. Easily 4 stars. This is also one of the earliest Krautrock records.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Listening to Can's Delay from 1968 is a strange experience. As soon as the opening Butterfly sets off you're quite sure there must be a mistake. First of all, this anarchistic and uncompromising stuff can never be from 1968, secondly, this is obviously a lost song from Sonic Youth around 1986. So you listen again, and again, and you turn the album cover around and stare at the album credits for 10 minutes, you start an encompassing search on the internet but everything proves you wrong. This was released in 1981 but it is not something from the American underground from the 80's. It's a bunch of Germans from 1968. Unbelievable. The artistic vision is beyond anything released till then. CAN = Communism, Anarchism, Nihilism. Very much so if you hear this.

After the nice 30 seconds of Pnoom, Nineteen Century Man continues the atonal, repetitive droning and violent attitude of the opener. Although here you might discern some influences from existing music, something between raw blues from the 50ties and Velvet Underground maybe? I like the rough delivery of Malcolm Mooney here. I sometimes find Suzuki too excessive, Mooney's vocals here are just spot on for this kind of music.

Delay was not the real debut but was released later comprising of 1968 recordings. So obviously it contains some weird stuff like Man Named Joe, an acquired taste to say the least. Compositions like Butterfly and Uphill are essential though. They are impressive testimonies of how this band got their act together right from the start. They would have to wait a good 10 or 15 years till their vision was really picked up and elaborated by the great bands of the 80's; Tuxedo Moon, PIL, Joy Division, Siouxsie, Sonic Youth,... To name just a few that come to mind. Not easy to get into, but once you're hooked this stuff gets under your skin.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For the fan of a trashy and surreal sixties music this album revealed some really inspiring and utterly confused music. Neurotic repetitive themes from garage-rehearsal room are fresh, but still within the borders of 1960's original and 1970's post-psychedelic musical context, clearly pioneering the experimental music landscape, and leaving commercial values and accepted pop-rock aesthetics behind. In addition of "Pnoom" joke, these jam-tracks run from four to eight minutes. Though the songs build up from quite simple elements, the players exploit the sonic possibilities really professionally, being similarly impulsive and imaginative, yet still working successfully and disciplined towards a mutual goal. They manage to introduce thematic elements and shift tensions pleasantly, and offering thus a rich musical experience for willing listener. I did not like very much the track "Man Named Joe" due the singing in it, but otherwise the songs here pleased me really much. As a personal remark, I earlier tried to get into this band trough album "Tago Mago", but I didn't warm up for that. But this great archive record opened my ears finally, and next I'll go check out some monster movies.
Review by tarkus1980
3 stars This is an archive release of tracks from the earliest days of the band, even before Monster Movie, and since its release it's often been considered the band's "real" debut. There is also a pretty sizable school of thought that says this is superior to MM, and since I've never been a huge fan of that one, I'd hoped I'd fall into this category. My understanding was that this was based in a more "traditional" approach than MM, but if anything I thought this would be somewhat intriguing.

Sadly, I barely even like this album as much as that one. I do find some amusement in the idea that Can was once a weird sort of psychedelic acid-rock band, and there's definitely some good material, but this album has many of the flaws that would show themselves on MM. The rhythm section is basically anonymous (not bad, but not remarkable either), Schmidt doesn't really sound necessary, and while Karoli displays a versatile set of licks, he can hardly carry the album himself. And man, I just get really tired of Mooney in a hurry. On half of the tracks here, I find him actively irritating, and this is a serious problem.

Of the seven tracks, only three tickle my fancy enough that I'd want to hear them all the way through again, even if the other tracks tend to have at least some points of interest (this is why, despite my largely negative attitude towards many of the album's attributes, I can still barely squeeze out a *** rating for it). "Nineteenth Century Man" sounds like the band trying to do its own version of a Chuck Berry rocker, with Karoli hammering out bluesy licks over and over. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a "normal" rock song, but it's as close as you'd get from Can for a little while, and it's a pretty good one. "Thief" is a remarkably moving ballad, where Mooney's worn vocals provide a strong burst of emotional power as he sings, "why must I be the thief ... why must I be the thief ..." over a simple atmospheric guitar line (interspersed with some slow emotional soloing on par with anything on Soundtracks). For once, Mooney is able to make his voice produce a strong emotional effect, and this is probably the best track he did with the band. Later on, then, comes "Uphill," an amusingly noisy chugging rocker with more Mooney blabbering that's at least coherent enough not to be distracting. It might not deserve to be almost 7 minutes long, but I've heard worse.

The other tracks aren't great, though. "Butterfly" just seems like it should be better than it is, as Karoli's ultra-minimalistic guitar pounding gives an ironically epic feel to the sound, and for a couple of minutes Mooney's ramblings about a dying butterfly sound kinda awesome. Unfortunately, while this might have made a decent 3-minute track, it gets stretched well past the 8-minute mark, without any especially interesting instrumental tricks or without any significant shifts in dynamics or anything to break the tedium, and I get tired of it soon. It's easy to see how this has elements of Can jamming that would come later, but the band had a long way to go in making its jamming into something that could capture the interest of a plebe like me. "Pnoom" is a 30-second throwaway (amusing enough, though), "Man Named Joe" is an upbeat romp but kinda stupid, and the closing "Little Star of Bethlehem" starts off sounding promising before forgetting to go anywhere at all for seven minutes. These aren't the worst things in Can's career, but I'd have absolutely no reason to care about them if they didn't have "historical significance."

In short, I'm probably missing something with this material, but I don't really feel any kind of gaping void in my life from not appreciating this album more. They might not have sounded like anybody else of the time, but I'm not necessarily sure we should be crediting new and exotic ways of intermittently sucking. Seek out "Thief" (and maybe "Nineteenth Century Man" and "Uphill") however you can, but don't break a sweat over the rest.

Review by stefro
4 stars Recorded in 1968 but not issued until 1981 'Delay' offers up more welcome helpings from the earlier days of Can's time with original lead-vocalist Malcolm Mooney, the schizophrenic American who appeared on the group's seminal 'Monster Movie' album. Depending on which Can you truly dig - whether it be the smoother, more psychedelic and experimental textures of Japanese ex-Busker Damo Suzuki or Mooney's wildly cacophonous brilliance - Can will always be one of those groups whose appeal is rooted in their own unique de-construction of rock 'n' roll. Both vocalists added their own peculiar flavour to the group's burgeoning sound, yet Mooney's time was briefest. Here, then, we get another chance to peruse the manic American's time with Can, this blistering release featuring seven sizzling cuts that paint 1968 Can in the same colour as the Velvet Underground, only with less emphasis on druggy dronery and a wild-eyed experimental edge brewed up with elements of funk, jazz, avant-garde rock and surreal sonic palettes of wirey guitars, tribal percussion and Mooney's own howling tones. Highlights include the lysergic tint of 'Butterfly', the punky, garage-flecked 'Nineteen Century Man', an eight-minute trawl through psychedelic world fusion territory on 'Little Star Of Bethlehem' and the scratchy, minimalist prog of the brilliantly-realised cut 'Thief'. Most interestingly of all, 'Delay' takes on a slightly broader range of styles than 'Monster Movie', showcasing Can at a highly transitional period. That said, this was a group quite unlike any other, and this welcome addition to the group's eclectic discography only goes to (rather emphatically) prove the point. Pretty damn brilliant. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The origins of CAN date as far back as far as 1966 when keyboardist Irwin Schmidt made a journey to New York City and spent time with avant-garde musicians like Steve Reich, La Monte Young and Terry Riley. The experience made such an impression that once he returned back to his native Cologne, Germany, Schmidt sought out kindred spirits which resulted in his forming a band with flautist David Johnson and music teacher / bassist Holger Czukay. While these three were heavily steeped in the avant-garde world of 20th century classical music with a particular interest in Karlheinz Stockhausen, soon they would meet the more jazz oriented guitarist Michael Karoli and drummer Jaki Liebezeit. After the band name Inner Space was rejected, the members agreed upon The Can but shortened it to CAN which supposedly was an acronym for Communism, Anarchism, Nihilism.

While a legend was born in 1968 when this band officially formed, the world wasn't exactly ready for these guys' forward thinking stylistic approach so once the band acquired American vocalist Malcolm Mooney and started to record enough material for a debut album, the band had plans to release it under the album title "Prepared To Meet Thy Pnoom" which referred to a 26 second jittery track that was to appear in second place on the album. With all the material finished and ready to ship off to the market, CAN faced the dilemma that no record company was interested in releasing it and although the band would be one of Germany's biggest Krautrock successes a mere few years in the future, in 1968 the band was utterly rejected and had to scrap the idea of releasing the "Pnoom" album and started from scratch which would ultimately lead to 1969's official debut album "Monster Movie."

Having sat on the shelves for well over a decade after CAN had sailed through the 70s as Germany's greatest psychedelic export, the band revisited the idea of releasing "Pnoom" and finally in 1981 the material that was supposed to appear on that phantom debut album finally saw the light of day only under the title DELAY 1968. The material presented on DELAY includes CAN's earliest known recordings and some much needed extra performances from CAN's first singer Malcom Mooney who only stuck around for the "Monster Movie" and "Soundtracks" albums before leaving the band due to mental instability. The album actually did make the rounds as a bootleg for years under the title "Unopened" but in 1981 this official release on the Spoon Records label finally made all those crappy second rate recordings obsolete and was rightfully remastered and given the royal treatment. The efforts were well worth it.

While not quite reaching the furthest out there trips as heard on albums like "Tago Mago," CAN did establish its unique sound right from the getgo with that distinct mix of psychedelic garage rock, funk, noise and hypnotic grooviness. DELAY is a vocal oriented album and features exquisite vocal performances by Malcolm Mooney who sounded like a less stable version of Jimi Hendrix at times but added a unique edge to the band that set them apart from the competition from the very start. DELAY features the recognizable hypnotic bass grooves of Holger Czukey which worked perfectly with Liebezeit's drumming creativity. Michael Karoli also added some of the band's earliest psychedelic guitar antics with Irwin Schmidt providing the perfect spaced out atmospheric touches, however this music is more based on some kind of garage funk rock than what would be considered Krautrock in the near future.

"Butterfly" starts things off with bantering guitar heft, a trait that has earned CAN the distinction as one of the primary influences for the 70s punk sound however the grooves are repetitive and hypnotic with a touch of organ notes tweaking the overall effect and leading things into the psychedelic zone. The "Pnoom" track at 26 seconds is certainly the anomaly of the bunch and is nothing more than a jazzy drumming session with a bass groove and what sounds like horn squawks but no credits are given as to what the instrument actually is. The rest of the album is a form of avant-funk with some reminding me of what the Red Hot Chili Peppers would eventually sound like. The final track "Little Star Of Bethlehem" for example sounds exactly like what Anthony KIedis and boys would sound like on the track "Walkabout" from the "One Hot Minute" album only almost 30 years prior.

For those only into the most intense Krautrock sessions that CAN conjured up, you probably won't dig this too much but for those who can dig the avant-funk with an erratic vocal style that pretty much occupied a place on every CAN album then this one won't disappoint at all. In fact this one is really good with a unique flavor all its own and DELAY actually sounds like something from the early 70s rather from the early year of 1968. While hind sight is always 20/20 and i'm sure the record companies would've jumped all over this had they been able to predict the Krautrock years just around the corner, i can only be thankful that CAN has released a lot of these locked up gems because some of the material on not only DELAY 1968 but albums like "The Lost Tapes" is some of the best stuff the band ever did. These forgotten relics are very much a must for any true fan of CAN not only for connecting the dots to the band's origins but simply because these seven tracks are really, really good!

Latest members reviews

4 stars This may be the first krautrock recording sessions. While delayed till 1981 the recordings contains only 1968/69 material and so giving us some impression of the early krautrock development of one of the best bands the krautrock movement had delivered. Malcolm Mooney takes care of the vocals w ... (read more)

Report this review (#750806) | Posted by the philosopher | Tuesday, May 8, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 s ... (read more)

Report this review (#211153) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Monday, April 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a true debut album, with the production turned down so low that it sounds as if it was recorded in a tiny bathroom by a cheap cassette player lying on its side in the doorway... The driving rhythms, even in this early time, shows the genius of Jaki Liebezeit and his ability to set ... (read more)

Report this review (#87503) | Posted by edible_buddha | Thursday, August 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This may be the most brilliant undiscovered gem in the Can catalog. Personally I have always preferred Malcolm Mooney to his more popular (and incomprehensible) replacement Damo Suzuki. Mooney's lyrics on "Little Star of Bethlehem" are absolute genius nonsense!! He was the original freak- ... (read more)

Report this review (#54329) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is CAN in the raw, playing live and largely unedited. There are three phases to CAN's career, and along with Soundtracks and Monster Movie, this album documents the raw energy that the early CAN displayed with such ease. The mid period (up to Soon Over Babaluma and Unlimited Edition) is ... (read more)

Report this review (#35311) | Posted by | Sunday, June 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my very first Can purchase and I have to say I'm quite smitten with the Malcolm Mooney-era Can. These recordings were intended to be the first Can record but remained on the shelf for some time. Favorites of mine include the tense "Thief", the explosion of "Pnoom" and what may forever be ... (read more)

Report this review (#23314) | Posted by | Monday, December 22, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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