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Can - Unlimited Edition CD (album) cover





3.59 | 64 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars NOTE: "Limited Edition" is the first release of "Unlimited Edition" which offered six other tracks.

The former featured 13 tracks whereas the second reissue featured 19.

CAN was formed in 1968 and released five albums with two distinct vocalists, US born Malcom Mooney and the Japanese noisemaker Damo Suzuki. After the release of the band's fifth album "Future Days," Damo Suzuki left the band so he could both marry his girlfriend and to become a Jehovah's Witness. While the band carried on without a new lead singer as it was becoming more focused on the instrumental workouts, CAN decided to unleash some of the more experimental tracks from the vault before taking things to the next phase. In May of 1974, the compilation of unreleased tracks LIMITED EDITION emerged with a limited release of 15,000 copies that featured oddball tracks ranging from the band's inception in 1968 to the "Future Days" sessions in 1973. It featured 13 random tracks with both lead singers as well as a wide range of styles and sounds not heard on the official albums.

These tracks were culled from thousands of hours of recording time and showcases the wide range of styles and sounds that CAN covered outside the context of the five album run. While the original LIMITED EDITION was released just prior to the band's next album "Soon After Babaluma" released in the following November 1974, after the band signed to Virgin Records in 1976, the album was released a second time as UNLIMITED EDITION shortly after the release of the "Flow Motion" album. The new edition hosted an additional six additional tracks including one of CAN's most eclectic and freaky collage giants in the form of the near 19 minute "Cutaway." Other than the original pressing titled LIMITED EDITION which donned the rather unflattering cover art of several mice in a tiny house (what it represents we may never know), the album has been released as UNLIMITED EDITION ever since and given that all the tracks of the original are on the newer editions, there is really no need to track down the mousy version unless you are the most rabid collector.

While often skipped over in CAN's discography due to its status as a collection of so-called throwaway tracks, (UN)LIMITED EDITION actually contains some of CAN's wildest and most experimental cuts taken from its massive run of recordings and offers a sneak peak into the band's strategy for crafting its unique blend of Krautrock that stood apart from virtually every other German band of the same era. While some tracks like the opening "Gomorrha" may evoke a familiarity as heard on some of the weirder tracks on album's such as "Tago Mago" which are entirely instrumental and host a unique mix of heady keyboard and guitar workouts laced with a funk laden bass groove and busy percussive section, other tracks strip bare the piling up of effects and expose the true nature of CAN's secret weapon, namely a diverse palette of world ethnic sounds that were twisted and coerced into performing psychedelic mind tricks and created repetitive looping effects and oscillating swirls of sound. Of these, the "E.F.S." series of tracks which referred to the "Ethnological Forgery Series" featured many world music sounds that more resembled the African, Asian and Middle Eastern folk genera that they were borrowed from. These were some of the band's earliest experiments.

The album hosts many unique features that would never fit on any given album. For example on "Doko E" Damo Suzuki sang in his native Japanese and "Mother Upduff" featured Malcolm Mooney's impromptu storytelling in spoken word vocals along with an uncharacteristic jazzy musical accompaniment. There are also other examples of instruments such as the violin and shehni, an Indian reed instrument that give many tracks a completely different flavor than most of what CAN offered however despite the wildly experimental improvisational flavors that seemed somewhat random in freeform, Jaki Liebezeit still maintains firm control of the rhythmic drive with his distinct percussive style that never deviates too far from his status quo however on some tracks he has more of a license to incubate some exotically technical drum rolls that are allowed to wander off the leash. Another unusual instrument featured is the schizophone on "The Empress And The Ukraine King" which sounds like a xylophone if it's the exotic instrument that i think it is.

Many tracks such as the aforementioned also deliver a much more progressive rock oriented sound with more angular instrumental workouts that develop more intricate melodic counterpoints. The instruments also play off of each other in different keys and tunings which offers distinct bouts of dissonance and complex harmonic interplay. While CAN's albums can sound uniform in stylistic approach save the bizarre nature of "Tago Mago," on (UN)LIMITED EDITION, each track is completely unique and that's the beauty of this grab bag of disparate ideas that displayed the band on creative highs that for whatever reason were deemed to alienating to appear side by side with the more distinguished tracks that made it onto albums. Some of the tracks, especially the "E.F.S." series sound like a completely different band while some of the early tracks like "Connection" show a gestating band still connected to the 60s psychedelic scene but hadn't quite found its own distinct way.

The highlight of the album is one of the extra tracks on UNLIMITED EDITION. The lengthy powerhouse "Cutaway" was recorded all the way back in March 1969 during the "Monster Movie" sessions and is by far one of CAN's most interesting tracks. Unlike many behemoth monstrosities that veer toward the 20 minute mark (this one is just over 18), this track is in reality several shorter tracks stitched together in seemingly random ways and is in effect a collage of various experiments that fit in quite well with the wild and crazy creative uptick that was exploding in 1969. Overall the tracks on (UN)LIMITED EDITION are excellent with only a very few throwaway tracks ("Blue Bag" is rather pointless for example). This album is not just a collection of substandard tracks at all but rather tracks that were just too far outside the context of what the album's were going for as these standalone tracks are really bizarre for the most part. This is highly recommended for those who cherish the most experimental aspects of CAN. While not an "official" studio album per se, this one is chock full of entertaining musical tidbits and the wide range of styles makes this THEEEE most diverse CAN album that has seen the light of day.

It's most likely you will encounter the UNLIMITED EDITION version since every reissue has appeared in that format.

It's also more fruitful in that it offers six extra tracks that are well worth it so unless you are a collector of all things CAN, the remastered version of this CD is the way to go.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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