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Can The Lost Tapes album cover
4.06 | 70 ratings | 6 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: (68:02)
1. Millionenspiel (5:49)
2. Waiting for the Streetcar (10:08)
3. Evening All Day (6:58)
4. Deadly Doris (3:10)
5. Graublau (16:47)
6. When Darkness Comes (3:48)
7. Blind Mirror Surf (8:39)
8. Oscura Primavera (3:19)
9. Bubble Rap (9:24)

CD2: (59:13)
1. Your Friendly Neighbourhood Whore (3:43)
2. True Story (4:30)
3. The Agreement (0:37)
4. Midnight Sky (2:44)
5. Desert (3:20)
6. Spoon (Live) (16:47)
7. Dead Pigeon Suite (11:47)
8. Abra Cada Braxas (10:12)
9. A Swan Is Born (3:00)
10. The Loop (2:33)

CD3: (68:39)
1. Godzilla Fragment (1:59)
2. On the Way to Mother Sky (4:35)
3. Midnight Men (7:35)
4. Networks of Foam (12:36)
5. Messer, Scissors, Fork and Light (8:24)
6. Barnacles (7:46)
7. E.F.S. 108 (2:07)
8. Private Nocturnal (6:49)
9. Alice (1:56)
10. Mushroom (Live) (8:18)
11. One More Saturday Night (Live) (6:34)

Total Time: 195:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Holger Czukay / bass guitar, editing
- Jaki Liebezeit / drums, percussion
- Irmin Schmidt / keyboards
- Malcolm Mooney / vocals
- Damo Suzuki / vocals
- Michael Karoli / guitars
- David Johnson / flute (on "Millionenspiel", "Blind Mirror Surf" and "Oscura Primavera")
- Rosco Gee / bass (on "Barnacles")
- Gerd Dudek / saxophone (on "Millionenspiel")

Releases information

3CD Spoon Records, Hostess Entertainment Unlimited CDSPOON55, CDSPOON55J (2012 Japan) (box-set)
3CD Spoon Records CDSPOON55 (2012 Europe) (box-set)
3CD Spoon Records, Mute CDSPOON55, CDSPOON55USA, 9527-2 (2012 US) (box-set)
3CD Spoon Records 724596954324, 9543-2 (2012 US)
5LP Spoon Records SPOON55 (2012 Europe) (box-set)
3CD Spoon Records CDSPOON55 (2013 Europe)

Thanks to sfranke for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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CAN The Lost Tapes ratings distribution

(70 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CAN The Lost Tapes reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars "Obviously the tapes weren't really lost..." so starts the liner notes written by Irmin Schmidt. CAN were well known for their habit of recording themselves as they jammed or played tracks they had composed. 50 hours of tapes had been locked away in a climate controlled enviroment for many decades and at the insistance of Hildegard a lady who as Irmin describes " over CAN and it's work like the dragon over the gold of the Nibelungen" they were brought out into the light in 2008. First they took them all in to get cleaned and then the pains-taking duty of going through all of this disorganised music began. Disorganised because in the early days they couldn't afford to go out and buy new tape all of the time so they played over top of music they didn't think was that good. So you get sections of music from different time periods.

By the way this 3 disc set is held in a 10 by 10 inch case about the same size as those that held those tape reels. The book inside is as big and full of great info and pictures. They decided once they got it somewhat organised to listen carefully to each piece of music at least 4 times to determine what was of the highest quality and what would be sent back to the vaults. One thing Irmin says that all of the band members of CAN have in common is an unsentimental ability to judge in cold blood what's good and what isn't. Nostalgic emotions were not a part of the final decision. I had heard long before I got my box-set that the music here was as good as CAN's best and I can attest that this isn't hype. These guys have chosen songs that in their opinion are worthy of being placed beside their best. So out of 50 hours of tapes we get almost 3 1/2 hours of music over 3 discs. The music isn't laid out chronologially although the one thing they did do was make the first disc up to and including song 4 of the second disc all Malcom Moody stuff, while the rest is with Damo.

I like the story in the liner notes of when Malcom joined the band for the first times in a castle outside of Colgne made available by a friend of Irmins. "Malcom arrived expecting to find an artists' studio; instead he would seize the microphone and push CAN-virtuoso players...into fiercely new areas with the sheer force of his voice". "Holger recalls his delight and shook at this powerful new element." The first piece they recorded was "Father Cannot Yell" which turned out to be completely different than what Holger thought it would be with Malcom on board. This was new music and the band knew it. Malcom became close with Jaki right away as they formed a close bond. Malcom says "The thing I liked about Jaki was that he wasn't set on any particular genre, he could accomplish things by listening to himself. He was able to carry a rhythm until it came back over itself. The band's components of Folk, Rock, Electronic, Classical and Jazz drumming, made for an interesting mix, and I had a rhythmic quality that went well with the music we did."

Okay i'll mention some highlights for me from each disc. Disc One's "Waiting For A Streetcar" is like hearing Malcom on a loop. He repeats that line a thousand times it seems as that beat is also repeated relentlessly. I love the info in the liner notes that tells us that CAN would play in the castle I mentioned earlier often at events. Anyway Malcom loved to take an actual event or person and incorporate it into the song like someone waiting for a taxi or someone named Doris and use words related to that and repeat them over and over (haha). "Dealdly Doris" must have been hot. This is catchy with vocals. Too much ! "Graublau" is a 17 minute sountrack that is just killer ! An incredible beat this one. "Bubble Rap" has that familiar raw sounding guitar from Karolli and is the only exception of Damo being on the first disc. Just an amazing jam.

Disc Two's "True Story" is so funny with Malcom basically telling a story and it's like being at a party listening to someone who is really stoned make up this hilarious story. So funny ! "Oooh to have those juices" oh man this is good. "Spoon (Live)" is a 17 minute jam with Damo. "Abra Cada Braxas" was a spontaneous creation live on stage and man this sounds fantastic with that beat and atmosphere.

Disc Three's "Godzilla Fragment" is live and quite powerful. A definite highlight for me. "On The Way To Mother Sky" is a fragment from the track "Mother Sky" and check out the organ late. "Barnacles" is a live improv that might be my favourite track on this whole set. This is jazzy at first with prominant bass, electric piano and drums. I like when the guitar comes in and grinds away. Amazing track ! "One More Saturday Night" is live with a beat, electric piano and guitar standing out early then the vocals arrive. Love this !

Well I tried to give just my top 10 tracks but I think I did eleven. Easily the best release of 2012 for me.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars A long-awaited boxset that should please Krautrock fans that are hungry for seminal early Can material. Taken from as many as 30 hours of studio and concert tapes, made mostly from jams and experiments, the group condensed and rearranged the music committed to these "lost tapes", and a resulting three CDs, each filled with just over an hour's worth of music. These tapes come from the seminal years of the band, when they were at the top of the art, basically from 68 until 77, but with a predominance from 69 to 72. Does that sound enticing? The tracks are more or less regrouped by eras, with the first disc concentrating mainly on 68-69 and with a couple 72 tracks thrown in. The second disc still reaches as early as 68, but goes as far as 74, with a majority 72 material, while the third concentrates mainly on the mid-70's..

It's not like you'll recognize instantly tracks that came from such and such classic album either. Most of it is barren enough, but the Mooney-era stuff has a few bright moments that approach the shoulder height of the music that's featured on Monster Movie, Soundtracks, but nothing of the quality of Delay 68 (originally released in 82). Clearly the better disc of this boxset in terms of album-worthy material.The Suzuki-era stuff is unfortunately not really up to par with the Tago-Bamyasi albums, though it's still quite nice, but they'd only be good bonus tracks when sized up against the original albums' music. The notable exception to that comment being the lengthy Neighbourhood Whore, where Liebezit's wind instruments are enthralling. Unfortunately much of that second disc is not meeting the same level, some of it being almost ambient mumbo. We all know that Can's music became somewhat softer around the Soon Over Babaluma and their later albums, but that's not to say that these later tapes are of more exploitable quality from what one can hear in that third disc. Actually that third disc is the weaker one of the three, as a knowledgeable Can expert would easily guess, and you find much from the Traffic (Reebop and Rosko) connection of 77-78.

Despite the dramatic cuts (something like 90%), the least we can assume from what was held back for this boxset is that the average quality of these tapes were either unusable or of no interest whatsoever. Don't get me wrong here, the unconditional Can fans will most likely find their happiness in this release; but if you're a more casual fan and you like some more musical meat to sink your teeth into, you'd better seriously investigate the contents before shelling out the dough. Some uberfans will disagree vehemently, but this set is not essential at all.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars I am not really a Can-fan. It is true that I have never delved deep into their secrets. I have only been scratching ever so lightly on their, as I have perceived it, rather inaccessible door. Still they have managed to keep me in their grip, always fascinating me, screaming in the back of my head. That is in itself quite a thing to give them credit for. To make things worse I have never been all that curious about so-called "lost tapes": What the hell are they? Really? Many times these "lost tapes" are nothing more than a clear-out of ones basement, packaged and sold under the presumption that the album(s) contain material of invaluable importance. In this occasion two things seem to be the case. First, the very existence of these "lost tapes" blew me off my feet, possessing my imagination and want. Secondly, everyone who knew anything seemed to be sharing the same bath-tub, all wallowing in the same lather of unashamed awe. So, what I felt, then, must be of some truth, albeit subjective in the view of objectiveness. Can was always, as is well known, a seldom seen oddity in progressive (or other) rock. They plowed their own furrow with their very own brand of musical conviction. "We'll play anything in any way we like and we don't care what you think about it", they seemed to say. Though I am not, as stated, a Can-fan of any rank, I am aware that their music, as any proud proggers would do, changed over time, becoming less free and "difficult". Their albums turned more easily accessible. When listening to their albums, Can's progression and eclectic approach to recording, isn't quite as clear as on this compilation. On this 3-disc Collection you find, as often stated, material that equals much of their regular output. As a showcase for Can's multifacetted talents it is precious and very interesting indeed, even for someone like me, only slightly acquainted with the band. You get every aspect of the bands musical adventures in the 60's and most of the 70's. Anything from soundtracks (Millionenspiel), pre-punk (Deadly Doris), sonic mayhem and free-form (Blind mirror surf), hard rock jamming (On the way to mother Sky), progressive rock (Dead pigeon suite), infective funk (Barnacles), ambient (Private nocturnal), beauty (Oscura primavera) and everything in between. I can't embrace everything but I like a lot on here and it shows their many faces in a grand way. This collection may appeal to already fans of Can but I can honestly say, being somewhat more of a casual admirer, that these discs are just as appealing for anyone interested in one of the greatest progressive bands in history. "The lost tapes" constitute a wonderful tapestry of originality and ingenuity. Art is a feeling and this is art. Whether or not you are able to appreciate all of it or bits and pieces, you can't help feeling increasingly impressed by the art created. Many a true fan would point, possibly, to "Tago mago" or some of the other classics of their discography but I feel this is as good a place to start as any. Impressive, engaging, enthralling and utterly original.
Review by friso
5 stars Can - The Lost Tapes (2012, recordings between 1968-1976)

I've been a fan of the Can's music for years now and I love their first five records. To me Can is perhaps the only rightful heir of the Beatles, being one of the most creative groups of music history. Furthermore, drummer Jaki Liebezeit is one of my favorite musicians. Listening to this German krautrock group you can hear all kinds of things to come later; psychobeat, breakbeats, minimal music, electronic music, moviesoundtracks, hip-hop, punk, spacerock, avant-garde. The list just goes on. The creative process of Can is distinctly different from other progressive groups, with an emphasis on improvisation and a playful interplay of minimal and chaotic elements. The sound of the band has always been very organic and 'in the moment', an element lacking in most progressive music.

In 2008 the process started of recovering 50 hours of 'lost tapes', though they were neglected or forgotten about. Can had it's own studio and they recorded almost everything. Most of time tapes were re-used, only things they really liked (in a 'non-sentimental way') were kept. Out of this Irmin Schmidt (keyboards) and Jono Podmore (editor) took more then three hours of material of which the tapes would be restored, transferred and remastered. The quality of the recordings is therefore no less then that of other Can albums. The live with audience recordings differ somewhat in quality, not in intensity though.

The material covers a wide time-span, yet this new triple record (of 5lp in my case) doesn't feel disconnected at all. The first vocalist, the American Malcolm Mooney with his eccentric, punchy and intense performance style can be heard on no less then seven tracks! The equally yet different Damo Suzuki appears on eight tracks. The others are instrumental. The material is made up of different aspects of the Can; the punchy heavy rock, the wild experimentation/avant-prog side, spacey rock, some composition and of course movie soundtracks. Now I myself often don't care to much for the avant-garde or free music parts, but some of these tracks are really amazing. The organ and spoken word track 'True Story' comes to mind.

At first it was a bit strange to realize, but this new release is actually as great as Monstermovie, Tago Mago and Soundtracks combined. Especially with the vinyl edition it feel like you have five new albums of one of your favorite bands from its best era. The bookwork is also nice & informative and the box is great looking. Standout tracks are Graublau (17 minutes of inventive psychobeat space rock), Obscura Primavera (short composition), True Story (before mentioned), Dead Pigeon Suite (a perfectly original and elegant remix of Vitamin C), Abra Cada Braxis (ten minutes of more Future Days!), Godzilla Fragment, Midnight Man (progressive spacerock!) and the Malcolm Mooney tracks like Waiting for a Streetcar, Deadly Doris and Desert.

Conclusion. This is perhaps the biggest treasure ever to be unearthed from the classic progressive rock era. Highly recommended to fans who will like almost every second of. Perhaps the minor fans - who have embraced the digital era - can make a shorter compilation of their own. I'm myself going to give this the highest rating! Brilliant music, well packaged and remastered. Unique experience and it came as a total surprise.

PS I think this record should considered to be an album instead of boxset/compilation. All the material is new.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars I know it may be a shock to hear that a 3-hour collection of Can rarities, early versions and live tracks would be messy as hell, but this 3-hour collection of Can rarities, early versions and live tracks is messy as hell. Yes, there's some nice previously unheard material from the Suzuki era of the band, but this collection also spends an extensive amount of time in the Mooney era, and there's also a good chunk of post-Suzuki material as well. A good chunk of this collection is essential or close to it, but there's also a good chunk that I would be perfectly fine never hearing again.

The Mooney-era material, taken from both the 1968 Delay 1968 era and the 1969 Monster Movie era, has especially tremendous variance in quality. On the plus side, this era contributes what may be the best track on the set: the 17-minute "Grablau," a monstrous jam sorta in the vein of "Mother Sky," with a brief vocal section in the middle so distorted and screwed up that it's impossible to tell it comes from Mooney, and which undergoes tremendous variation from start to finish. The set begins on a strong note in this era as well, thanks to a great mostly instrumental jam in the Monster Movie style (starting quiet and atmospheric before picking up speed and centering around a bassline that sounds like something out of a spy movie) called "Millionspiel." There are some other nice tracks from this era as well, such as the weirdly up-beat "Deadly Doris," the gentle guitar-centric "Oscura Primavera," and the hilarious "Midnight Sky," which sounds like Captain Beefheart doing blues rock in a slightly less screwed up way than usual for him. On the negative side, well, there's pretty much everything else from this chunk. "Waiting for the Streetcar" is quintessential bad Mooney-era Can, featuring instrumental backing that might be pretty decent but is completely obscured by the way that Mooney basically sings "Are you waiting for the streetcar?" (or close variations, with occasional other lyrics) repeatedly for ten minutes. Other Mooney-era material here is a little less stereotypical, but not much more listenable. "When Darkness Comes" and "Blind Mirror Surf" each feature a lot of ugly squealing noises without much payoff, and putting them back-to-back makes for a really difficult 12 minutes to endure. "Your Friendly Neigborhood Whore" is at least cheery and upbeat, but Mooney's ugly singing makes it no better than an average Delay 1968 number, and that means it's not very good. "True Story" is Mooney telling a story over an ugly keyboard sound for four minutes, and finally "Desert" is an early version of "Soul Desert," which was the worst song on Soundtracks by a good distance. Material like this only serves to remind me just how glad I am that Mooney left the band.

The Suzuki-era material doesn't exactly contribute a lot to the band's legacy, but it's definitely the most enjoyable era of the collection. There are fine live versions of "Spoon" (extended to 17 minutes!!), "Mushroom," and "One More Night" (here called "One More Saturday Night"), and they all show that the band's amazing jamming power during this era translated just fine out of the studio and into live performance. On the first CD, one rarity ("Evening All Day") is a bunch of go-nowhere noise-making, but another rarity, "Bubble Rap," is a great Ege Bamyasi-era track, with Damo preaching whatever over guitar growlings with an awesome strong tone and the rhythm section in peak form. Otherwise, the Suzuki material here consists of early versions of later classics (aside from the :37 of "The Agreement," which seems to be somebody talking while peeing): "Dead Pigeon Suite" is alternately beautiful, exotic and intense jamming that eventually turns into "Vitamin C"; "Abra Cada Braxas" sounds like an early version of "Bring Me Coffee or Tea"; "A Swan is Born" is an early version of "Sing Swan Song"; "On the Way to Mother Sky" is just what it says; "Messer, Scissors, Fork and Light" would eventually condense down into "Spoon." It's very interesting to hear these tracks in work-in-progress mode, and for the most part they would have been just fine even if the band hadn't refined them further, but these are hardly superior to the versions that actually made it onto the albums themselves.

The post-Suzuki material reflects the corresponding releases pretty well, in that it tends to still show a nice amount of creative spark but a little lack of focus. There's an early version of "Vernal Equinox" called "Midnight Men," and it has the basic skeleton in place but isn't quite the destroyer of worlds that "Vernal Equinox" would be. The one really long track from this era is a live performance of a track called "Networks of Foam," and what it lacks in structure it makes up in terrifying aggression and energy (Jaki and Michael, good grief), and it's definitely a keeper. The rest consists of short ideas not explored to full potential ("The Loop," "Godzilla Fragment," and "Alice," which is gorgeous and really needed a full song built around it), a short idea explored to full potential and still found wanting ("E.F.S. 108"), a gorgeous atmospheric meandering (with some singing but done so quietly that it may as well not be there) in "Private Nocturnal," and a silly funk/disco number from the Saw Delight era ("Barnacles," which probably would have been the best number on that album). Still, while this section of the set can't live up to the Suzuki section, it says something that there's clear keeper material in here.

In a way, it's fitting that this collection didn't come out until a very late date, because this is a set made for the iPod/digital library era. As irritating as a good chunk of this set may be, there's still a very nice collection as long as 2 CDs buried within here, and that material is worth keeping around. Any Can fan should acquire and hear the best material from this set, and if that means getting the full set and having a CD's worth of dead weight, then so be it, but it would be better just to hear the good stuff. And besides, indications were from Schmidt that this might be the end of viable releasable material from the band, and thus it's worth savoring these remnants of the band's career.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars As one of Germany's most successful bands to emerge from the wild and crazy Krautrock scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, CAN has endured like few others have with a never-ending interest in this Cologne based band's bizarre blend of avant-funk and electronic experimentalism. Known for recording pretty much everything they played from early morning to the wee hours of the night, CAN amassed a huge arsenal of extra material that didn't make it onto their official albums starting all the way back with 1976's "Unlimited Edition" which collected the flotsam and jetsam and forged a veritable spectrum of sonic exploration even more so than what CAN would release on its so-called "normal" albums.

But wait? there's more! If that wasn't enough CAN also found a posthumous release of its earliest inception with Malcom Mooney at the singer's helm in the form of 1981's spectacular early offerings in the form of "Delay 1968," however was it really fair to assume that CAN had even more hidden gems tucked away in the cookie jar just waiting to give the fans a sweet treat that they just couldn't seem to get enough of? Well, i would assume not but lo and behold this prolific band was relentless in the studio having crafted one musical Frankenstein after another with some to be included for film soundtracks that never came to be while others were just spontaneous bouts of weirdness that faded as fast as they were forged and forever forgotten until Irmin Schmidt's insistent wife Hildegard coaxed the band to revisit a stash of poorly marked tapes in the vaults.

To the band's surprise there were a whopping 50 hours of material lingering in those dark recesses for over three decades like fine wine gaining more character every passing year in the hopes of offering that perfect odiferous bouquet. To Schmidt's chagrin, he was strongly compelled to seek out any diamonds in the rough before time had permanently rendered them dust in the wind. And so he did with his trusted son-in-law Jono Podmore at his side reliving those magic moments that were fleeting but brought back to life with loving care and finally released as a 3-CD boxed set titled THE LOST TAPES in 2012. Who said the Mayan calendar ending was a bad thing? Part of the story includes the CAN studio Wallerswist having been sold to the German Rock N Pop Museum where every artifact was lovingly accounted for and relocated to the city of Gronau. Little did anyone know that there were treasures lurking in the Spoon Records archive and so the arduous task of selection began.

THE LOST TAPES is a veritable tribute to CAN's more experimental playful side spanning the band's entire career from 1968 to 1977 and includes both singers Malcom Mooney and Damo Suzuki along with the many band members themselves. The tracks can roughly be divided into a few general categories. Firstly there are those such as the opening "Millionspiel" and the majority of Disc 1 that encompasses the traditional expected CAN sounds that include that familiar avant-funk bass grooves along with hints of 60s rock and roll, 70s Krautrock and the deliciously wild electronic extravaganzas that took it all to the cosmos and back. Secondly are tidbits of pure escapist's bliss in electronic soundscapes such as "When Darkness Comes." These tracks are far outside the parameter of what CAN released on its albums and sound more like the bleak industrial electronica that would take off in the 1980s with bands such as Einstürzende Neubauten. Thirdly an excellent repertoire of unreleased live performances that showed CAN in its prime and was far from a studio only band.

With a playing time of roughly 196 minutes, THE LOST TAPES is a massive sprawling collection of music that proves impossible to take in on a single listen but who would really want to. Tracks range from short musical instrumentals such "Oscura Primavera", the electronic mind[%*!#]ery "The Loop" to the proto-punk outbursts in the form of the Hendrix-ish "Midnight Sky." Others such as "Graublau," "Dead Pigeon Suite" and "Abra Cada Braxas" showcase the band's lengthy jamming tendencies laced with lysergic atmospherics and tight-knit guitar / bass / drum rock heft. The tracks are displayed roughly in chronologic order from the earliest 60s material to the late 70s but various live tracks are intermittently dispersed seemingly in a random fashion as to break things up.

This should truly be considered one for the true fans except for the fact that the material presented on THE LOST TAPES is of equal caliber to just about anything CAN had unleashed on its primary albums with the possible exception of the outstanding uniqueness of "Tago Mago." While it sounds like 3 discs of unreleased CAN material could result in a rather uneventful listening experience, it comes as quite a surprise that this set of 30 tracks is extremely high in quality with really nothing standing out as substandard. After all there were at least 50 hours of music to choose from so the fact that this collection had been whittled down to a mere 3 hours plus ensured that only the cream of the crop was resurrected from its catacomb where it lay dormant for so very long. While i rarely get excited about triple disckers of archival forgotten material, THE LOST TAPES is certainly the exception as this collection not only stands up to CAN's classic material but also shows the more explorative nature of the band that was too wild even for the already extreme explorative nature of the primetime heyday of the band. An excellent treasure find this sure was!

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