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Can - Delay 1968 CD (album) cover

DELAY 1968

Can

 

Krautrock

3.62 | 156 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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