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CAN

Krautrock • Germany


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Can picture
Can biography
Formed in Cologne, Germany in 1968 - Disbanded in 1979 - Reunited on several occasions (1986, 1991 & 1999)

CAN is one of a few internationally known "Krautrock" groups; they are famous for their repetitive and hallucinatory sound. CAN was founded in 1968 by LIEBEZEIT, Irmin SCHMIDT and Holger Czukay, and in their early days they also included American singer Malcolm MOONEY or Japanese vocalist Damo SUZUKI. They transformed progressive-rock into a science. By bridging classical music, jazz music and rock music of their times, CAN accomplished the first organic study on rhythm and texture. Their hypnotic and glacial instrumental jams straddled the line between free-jazz, acid-rock and chamber music. CAN's music can be difficult to appreciate, yet their albums offer some of the best experimental rock ever recorded. Then there are always the myths, the legends and the fascination.

Here's a synopsis of most of their albums. I can recommend "Delay" through to Soon over Babaluma. "Delay" was the first album recorded although it was not released until 1981. Most of their albums are great, particularly "Monster Movie", "Soundtracks", "Tago Mago", "Future Days", and "Ege Bamyasi". After "Soon over Babaluma" I'd say forget it as CAN loose there fresh approach for which they were reknown. 1997 becomes the year where other musicians show the timeless aspect of CAN's music in the new remix album "Sacrilege". And this is the Sound of CAN in the nineties.

"Limited" and "Unlimited Edition" are a collection from 1968 to 1974. In the autumn of 1978, a double CD retrospective "Cannibalism 1" was issued on United Artists, and, for many, still stands today as the definitive CAN collection. It drew from the band's first six albums, but a tremendous sampling of songs from their essential early albums. "Cannibalism 1" is the best CD to buy to first experience the incredible music of CAN.

CAN's legacy still resounds clearly across the landscape of contemporary music. As Julian Cope concludes, "CAN will be remembered as one of the great 20th century bands. I've listened to their music for over 23 years, and I still freak out at their staying power... Every one of CAN's members is a hero, and a true star."

With due acknowledgement to Piero Scaruffi's book "A History of Rock Music" for some of the information and text quoted.

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Tago MagoTago Mago
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CAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 336 ratings
Monster Movie
1969
3.83 | 271 ratings
Soundtracks
1970
3.95 | 635 ratings
Tago Mago
1971
3.91 | 432 ratings
Ege Bamyasi
1972
4.09 | 558 ratings
Future Days
1973
3.69 | 214 ratings
Soon Over Babaluma
1974
3.52 | 135 ratings
Landed
1975
2.97 | 108 ratings
Flow Motion
1976
3.34 | 101 ratings
Saw Delight
1977
2.40 | 77 ratings
Out Of Reach
1978
2.69 | 81 ratings
Can [Aka: Inner Space]
1978
3.59 | 129 ratings
Delay 1968
1981
3.02 | 62 ratings
Rite Time
1989

CAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.16 | 48 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1995
4.08 | 33 ratings
Box Music (Live 1971-1977)
1999

CAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.02 | 30 ratings
Can
2005

CAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.48 | 14 ratings
Limited Edition 1974
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Classic German Rock Scene
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Opener
1976
3.55 | 51 ratings
Unlimited Edition
1976
2.91 | 16 ratings
Cannibalism 1
1978
2.91 | 4 ratings
Cannibalism
1978
4.13 | 7 ratings
Cannibalism 2
1990
4.57 | 22 ratings
Can Anthology
1994
3.60 | 5 ratings
Cannibalism 3
1994
2.91 | 17 ratings
Sacrilege
1997
2.33 | 3 ratings
Inner Space / Out of Reach
1998
2.31 | 4 ratings
Box (Compilation)
1999
4.11 | 56 ratings
The Lost Tapes
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Can
2013
3.33 | 3 ratings
The Singles
2017

CAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 2 ratings
Soul Desert
1969
2.00 | 1 ratings
Turtles Have Short Legs
1971
3.67 | 3 ratings
Vitamin C
1972
3.50 | 2 ratings
I'm So Green
1972
3.29 | 9 ratings
Spoon
1972
3.67 | 3 ratings
Moonshake
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Big Hit
1973
3.00 | 2 ratings
Dizzy Dizzy
1974
2.00 | 1 ratings
Hunters And Collectors
1975
2.25 | 3 ratings
Silent Night
1976
2.50 | 2 ratings
I Want More
1976
2.00 | 1 ratings
Don't Say No
1977
2.00 | 1 ratings
Can-Can
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
Spoon / Silent Night
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
I Want More
1981
2.00 | 1 ratings
Moonshake
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Hoolah Hoolah
1990
2.00 | 1 ratings
Sacrilege
1997
2.00 | 1 ratings
I Want More
2006

CAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Soundtracks by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 271 ratings

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Soundtracks
Can Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Generally when thinking of Can's early discography, Soundtracks is that one that is often forgotten, to the point where even Damo Suzuki himself claimed that the first real album by the band was Tago Mago, which makes some amount of sense given how this is a compliation of various tracks to be used for silm soundtracks. The album has less of a focus on the repetitive, hypnotic groove of Can's other albums and instead possesses a more psychedelic, conventional approach, although still with heavy kraturock leanings, especially on the 14 minute Mother Sky. Definitely underrated overall however, and an album that I count as a 'real' Can album, especially given the prominence of vocals in it making it not feel unlike a studio output.

Even the opening track, Deadlock shows a more rock oriented approach to songwriting, beginning with a powerful wail of a guitar, the vocals sounding more conventional in terms of melodic structure, compared to the more repetitive, rhythmic approach taken on albums such as Tago Mago and Ege Baymasi. Tango Whiskyman is frankly amazing, with Damo's vocals going beyond the usual weirdness they have and sounding straight up beautiful in parts, all around being a very subdued song, with even the louder parts maintaining an overarching sense of restraint. The drumming is also to be commended here, being wonderfully groovy and subtle, yet maintaining the rhythmic focus the band has. Don't Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone is a more freeform composition, having some form of direction, but largely sounding all over the place, with each instrument seemingly going back and forth in the mix, occasionally following some sort of pattern, other times more sticking to a general tone, with the Suzuki's voice having much more of a drawl to it. The 2 songs containing Malcolm Mooney on vocals stand as the weakest on this album, Soul Desert being honestly extremely boring, with the vocals being mixed badly, and just all around sounding obnoxious, having that extremely loose quality to them that was there in Monster Movie, but without the almost manic edge to it that made them so entertaining there. The main problem with She Brings the Rain, despite the fact that it is a much better song that all around sounds lovely, is that it feels extremely out of place, not just on this record, but by this band as a whole, although I do enjoy it enough to be able to forgive this, at least to some extent. Mother Sky is easily the best song on Soundtracks, continuing Can's trend of having their long, extended jams being by far the best parts of their discography, being incredibly hypnotic and sounding as if they could go on forever. Mother Sky is no exception to this, starting off with a 2 minute guitar solo while a repetitive bassline and drum beat dominate the song, being almost constant throughout the entire song, rarely ever changing, instead throwing me into a deeper trance. This song is one of the more varied of these imporvisational, extended jams, featuring a plethora of guitar solos, stronger focus on groove, cool, memorable, catchy vocal lines, and an ever increasing intensity and sense of urgency, especially with that bassline. As said at the start of my description for this song, I feel like it could go on for ages without it losing any enjoyment from me, it's just a krautrock masterpiece, and one of Can's better songs.

While a less focused album than the three that were to come directly after this, and having a less formed identity compared to the absolute powerhouse that was to come, I enjoy this album greatly. The more rock oriented approach Can took here led to there being some killer guitar moments strewn throughout, especially on Deadlock and Mother Sky, and also meant that you got some looser moments such as Tango Whiskyman, which is undoubtedly an absolute gem. I'd recommend listening to this album after the next 2, as this is less memorable and less cohesive, but this is still undoubtedly a must hear if you enjoy Can, or just krautrock in general.

Best songs: Deadlock, Tango Whiskyman, Mother Sky (this one especially)

Weakest songs: Soul Desert

Verdict: Another great album in the discography of one of the greatest krautrock artists of all time, with shorter songs with more of a traditional structure to them, despite still being far from that, and then the absolute masterpiece of Mother Sky. Listen to Tago Mago and Ege Baymasi before this, but don't miss listening to this album.

 Monster Movie by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.81 | 336 ratings

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Monster Movie
Can Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars For those who listened to Can's later work and admired their amazingly groovy repetition in places, I feel like you'll enjoy this album greatly. While Tago Mago and the like may have had hypnotic, repetitive beats throughout the songs, this album takes it to another level in that regard, with each song almost solely being dedicated to a single rhythmic pattern and hook, and then repeated ad nauseum throughout the length of the song. As well as its extreme simplicity which ends up working wonders due to the highly groovy, hypnotic nature of the tracks, there is also a certain energy and manic quality to the songs, the latter definitely provided by the bizarre, unhinged nature of Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance.

Father Cannot Yell immediately sets the precedent for the kind of music thi album will consist of, starting off with a high pitched beeping noise while the instruments are all quickly introduced, with a creeping bassline, drumming like clockwork, and simplistic guitars. The aspect of the song that most catches my attention is the extremely irregular vocal rhythm that's present, seemingly going all over the place with little regard for tempo and time signatures, which is honestly really interesting sounding here. The only majorly shifting instrumental element of the song is that of the guitar, which sometimes becomes near cacophonous at points, with a constant ebb and flow providing for an interesting listening experience further heightened by the wonderfully quirky vocal breakdown halfway through. Mary, Mary So Contrary displays an entire other side of the band's sound, still applying the simplistic, repetitive and rhythm focused songwriting approach, but being much softer and with some more melody put in. The main thing I love about this song is that high pitched wail of the guitar, as it provides a nice bit of sonic depth to the song while the metronimic drumming continues on and on, making the back half of this song absolutely wonderful. Outside My Door, while less memorable and impressive than the previous two tracks, definitely has its own unique identity, with a surf rock style as well as a harmonica, so it's far from a complete write off. You Doo Right makes up the bulk of this album, and is definitely a strange song, taking the mentality applied to the rest of this album, but then stretching it out to 20 minutes in length, essentially providing a 20 minute long jam centred around key vocal hooks. I feel like it's pulled off quite well overall, being able to remain entertaining throughout, more or less exploring the furthest reaches of this particular groove and melody.

While some of Can's later works are definitely where I would gravitate towards, especially their excellent Tago Mago, I really love the stripped back simplicity here, and find that it's executed extremely well. Malcolm Mooney's vocal performance provides a certain charm to the albums that Damo Suzuki couldn't replicate, despite him being a far better vocalist and definitely having moments of further insanity than anything that they could dream of here. All in all, I do thoroughly enjoy this album and would strongly recommend giving it a listen after hearing the Damo Suzuki material from the band.

Best songs: Father Cannot Yell, You Doo Right

Weakest songs: Outside My Door

Verdict: Extremely repetitive, rhythm focused music with great energy in parts, while also being able to make it all sound extremely enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend starting off with the peak material of Can before moving on to this, but I do find it to be an album you should definitely listen to if you enjoyed the minimalistic nature of those albums.

 Tago Mago by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 635 ratings

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Tago Mago
Can Krautrock

Review by LedDenon21

2 stars Man... this album was really a dissapointment for me when I decide to give it a try. I dig into prog and really like the songs I already heard from CAN, Vitamin C, I'm so Green and Mushroom are really likely for me, the sick percussions and basslines, hypnotic vocals were really getting into me, but Paperhouse was my jam with the trippy guitar added to all mention afterwards and a really solid structure of the song making even the "random" beeps and boops not just listenable but yet really enjoyable; it was this song and constant recommendation of this album at the internet that made me give it a listen; the first part of the album was great for me, it had the trippy and hypnotic sound I liked from Paperhouse and the recurrent electronic madness in the songs seemed to fit in good in the tracks, but them it came Halleluwah, it was too long for his own good and it was at this point were the electronic pieces started to feel more like fillers than like complements for the songs, but the song was still tolerable, not enjoyable; then Aumgn hit in and it was when all went downhill, it was a 17 minutes song which was like 90% random electronic, when I realize that it was gonna be the entire song pure electronic randomness in repetition for 17 minutes it really turn me down, then it came Peking O and it was more random beeps and boops but louder, the last song was actually ok returning to the sound from the first songs, but the damage made by the long exposition to the nonsensecical beep sounds was already done, and making worse was the fact that the band just stuck in on purpose all that on like 40 minutes and thought it was a good idea it ends up being more of a dissapointment of what could had be a great album; Krautrock isn't a genre for everyone.
 Future Days by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.09 | 558 ratings

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Future Days
Can Krautrock

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars A warm, Krautrockish breeze: 9/10

FUTURE DAYS is a demonstration that even ambient music can be unique and accomplished when done correctly. CAN channeled their psychedelia in a hypnotic and immersive atmosphere, built atop several layers of electronic, synthesized and unusual sonorities. The result, a relaxed melody akin to tropical lullabies, depicts a certain degree of experimentalism without sounding absurd or downright bizarre.

So much so that, initially, it might be difficult to observe its inventive quality, which is why it's important to understand said attribute is implicit and only noticeable by an attentive ear. Yet, acknowledging that is not inherently necessary to admire the album's beauty at its plenitude. This exact detail is what makes FUTURE DAYS particularly great: it is enjoyable both as background music, thanks to its soothing unpretentiousness, and as an active listen, when it is possible to unravel the surprising complexity beneath the apparent straightforwardness.

In no moment the experience seems to have a low point; from the warm, velveted melodies of the eponymous track to Moonshake's psychedelic and eerie pop or Bel Air's impressive energy and cumulative momentum, CAN surely knows how to deliver a memorable experience.

 Future Days by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.09 | 558 ratings

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Future Days
Can Krautrock

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Wonderful. CAN's pinnacle.

Well, as most innovators would tell you, you first need to experiment and fail (and fail big) before you can truly innovate. CAN did this (experiment and fail) pretty big with parts of Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi. But they came back to make this truly wonderful album, Future Times. This album contains many of the same approaches and sounds (including Suzuki's mumbling) that are found on their previous albums. However, for some reason they were able to get the best out of these here, while avoiding the worst of those previous failures. I can only surmise that they learned from those mistakes, and sought this time to make real music. This is, to my mind, the pinnacle of their catalogue, their one shining contribution to the world of music. And it is very musical, all the way through. The album is full of contradictions, but it works and flows together very well. Words I would use include gentle, obtuse, mature, cutting edge, grooving, diverse, noisy (in terms of having lots of new types of noises present), smooth, artful, rolling. There is a feel-good vibe that permeates this album, which I don't find on other CAN albums. It is the only CAN album that I still listen to on any regular basis. How wonderful? I can see why some reviewers might rate this as 5 stars, as it comes close to being essential (and for Krautrock fans, I think one would have to find this essential). In comparison to all other albums, I rate it 8.5 out of 10, which places it as 4 PA stars. Their best album.

 Ege Bamyasi by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.91 | 432 ratings

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Ege Bamyasi
Can Krautrock

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Mostly Blah.

Whereas 'Tago Mago' involved extremes - a mix of great and horrible - 'Ege Bamyasi' fails in a different way. It is simply boring. The best track on the album is one they hadn't even intended for it, but which commercial success (as the background theme for a German TV show) forced onto the album - the excellent "Spoon". This track is, to me, the very best among CAN's entire discography (even better than Tago Mago's "Halleluwah"). It is highly unique, very innovative, and highly memorable, but unfortunately only three minutes long. There are only two other tracks that are even listenable on this album: "Sing Swan Song" and "One More Night". Like on Tago Mago and Future Times which would follow, Damo Suzuki is mostly mumbling his way through these songs, and in some cases (like on Aumgn on Tago Mago) he simply ruins them. But the real problem with Ege Bamyasi is that, unlike the shear nerve exhibited on Tago Mago, 'innovation' here seems to just mean un-musical noodling. While I can somewhat understand the reputation that Tago Mago has (since it has Halleluwah, such a great groove), I don't understand why Ege Bamyasi is held up as one of CAN's better albums. Not only is it boring, but because of the too-frequent off-putting singing or other noises, it is not even sleep-inducing. With only three decent tracks, which make up roughly 30 percent of the album (in terms of minutes), I give this album 3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. 2 PA stars.

 Tago Mago by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.95 | 635 ratings

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Tago Mago
Can Krautrock

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Mix of brilliant and awful.

Right up there in the "I would have loved to hear what the record company execs were thinking when they heard this one" category, Tago Mago deserves some credit for...well, not innovation per se, perhaps nerve or hubris? Rarely has such a non-commercial recording (I was going to call this a 'non-commercial set of music' but 'recording' is the more accurate term) been released to (on) the public. Containing both some decent grooves (for which CAN, and Krautrock, would become well known), but also some of the worst noise ever put to record, Tago Mago is not for the uninitiated. But it was out of the ashes of the failures here on Tago Mago (and Ege Bamyasi) that CAN would eventually make one great album (the wonderful 'Future Times'). A double-album, the first half of Tago Mago contains almost everything here that might fall under the category of 'music'. The side-long "Halleluhwah" is the best, most inspired. Created from many feet (hours?) of taped jams, it reveals a deep groove for which this album is probably best known. Indeed, in terms of innovation and musicality, it is the drumming that stands out for me, and this extended track is one of the best examples. The other tunes on the first side are also sufficiently decent - "Paperhouse", "Mushroom" and "Oh Yeah" - although not at the same level as Halleluhwah. The second half of the album, however, is another story. Among the first of the CAN albums to feature then-new vocalist Damo Suzuki, they allowed him to make what I can only describe as monkey noises all over side c (the aptly titled "Aumgn"), which dare I say completely ruins any remaining musicality that this side might have (even though it is all just musique concrete - noises made with found objects and echo pedals). "Aumgn" is particularly notable not just in relation to the other albums here on PA but also recorded music in general, as I cannot think of any recording ('song' is not the right word) that is more difficult to listen to, with less musicality, EVER (even on those old test pressings of non-musical soundscapes, like the ones where they sample jet engines and the like). Truly, truly awful noise. Such a failure. I have been in some iffy situations (as a kid, etc) that looking back I wish I had not got myself into. But those 17 minutes of Aumgn are among the ones in my life I wish that I could take back most. On my 10-point scale, 0 would typically refer to a complete waste of time, something with no musicality at all. Well, Aumgn is the only 'recording' I could consider giving a negative rating to! Side D is not very musical either ("Peking-O" and "Bring Me Coffee or Tea") but it is no-where near as bad as Aumgn. Side d might get 1.8 out of 10. This might be contrasted with a 5.9 out of 10 for side a, and an 8 out of 10 for side b (Halleluhwah). Taken together, a 'notable' (nervy) album, but one that only averages out to about 3.5 out of 10 in terms of musicality, which translates to 2 PA stars. Be forwarned.

 Monster Movie by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.81 | 336 ratings

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Monster Movie
Can Krautrock

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Some charm and guts.

Can were true innovators, but like many innovators did so more through failure than success. This album, their first, is one of the more successful, ironically, perhaps because they were not yet pushing too hard on the boundaries as they did on later albums. The only CAN album to feature Malcolm Mooney (an American who would leave the band shortly after), this album sounds like a drugged-out psychedelic but also bluesy jam session, with Mooney repeating many lines over and over. While various sections are more musical than others, the whole comes together sufficiently well to recommend listening to this all the way through. I am not sure how many times one might want to do this, but the album contains a certain amount of charm and guts, and for me stands above a number of later CAN albums. Basically, it is sufficiently musical all the way through despite its (and CAN's) oddities. But I don't rank it highly. I give it 5.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is lower 3 PA stars.

 Sacrilege by CAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
2.91 | 17 ratings

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Sacrilege
Can Krautrock

Review by Lewian

4 stars This is a collection of remixes of Can tracks, mainly by people who did techno of the alternative non-mainstream varieties in the nineties, with some for the prog listener familiar names thrown in (Brian Eno, Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy, Sonic Youth). A "remix" here means that parts of the original tracks were cannibalised to create something more or less new and autonomous. The title "Sacrilege" testifies the huge respect that the participants of this project have for Can's work and the influence that the band has had on musicians of various genres and over a long time.

The remixes are quite different regarding how much of the original track was kept and how much they're dominated by it. In A Guy Called Gerald's Tango Whiskeyman one need to look hard for traces of the original, whereas for example Sunroof's Oh Yeah follows the concept of the original quite closely.

I have always enjoyed this double-CD big time, from start to finish, despite the presence of some weaker pieces or at least some pieces that in itself don't tell me that much. Surely there is enough strong material here, although it definitely helps if nineties techno music doesn't make you run away screaming for mercy. Many of the remixes are dominated by heavy rhythms, some pretty dancefloor-proof, split up between sampling and looping the mighty man machine Jaki Liebezeit (RIP), making him even more machine-like, and some techno rhythms created by the remixers themselves. The use of samples and sounds is generally inspired by how the masters themselves did it with material from other sources, and consequently the Can members have enjoyed this collection, too, as far as I know (except Damo, who in the booklet is just cited saying that this is "not his cup of tea").

Overall, despite its dancefloor credentials, this is quite experimental and playful and not always an easy ride. Also in this respect, the collection is varied; 3P's Yoo Doo Right could have been hit single material, so smooth and nice to the ears it is, whereas Hiller/Kaiser/Leda's Unfinished and Bruce Gilbert's TV Sport are rather noise avantgarde, although at least the former treats the listener to some rhythm toward the end. A number of pieces are generous with the rhythm but more modest with melody and harmony (i.e., Father Cannot Yell by Pete Shelley); but melody and harmony aren't necessarily what the Can fan is looking for.

I could nominate quite a number of these as highlights; by and large more of them are on the second CD. The already mentioned Unfinished and Father Cannot Yell are bold and adventurous and pretty autonomous constructions. I also love the addictive underground dance orgy that System 7 (that's Hillage and Giraudy formerly of Gong) made of Dizzy Spoon; these prog veterans surely know how to produce an attractive techno rhythm.

Surely part of the listener's joy comes from looking for and recognising their Can favourites; U.N.C.L.E.'s Vitamin C and both remixes of Oh Yeah make heavy enough use of the original material that they are basically failproof (still there is enough artistic freedom in them to justify their existence in the face of the original) and of course I can listen day in day out to Jaki's drumming, even looping him does not hurt him much. There's a case though for not attributing all the quality that can be found here to the remix collection, a good deal is of course claimed by the originals.

I am really in love with the whole concept and how it plays out, and also some of the highlights. It would be a far stretch to call this "a masterpiece of progressive rock", firstly because it is a far stretch to call this "progressive rock" at all and secondly because this kind of project can of course never reach a sufficiently monolithic experience and everyone can certainly find the odd low point here. Never mind, personally I am fascinated and delighted from start to finish, and so I give it four stars and feel rather stingy.

 Can [Aka: Inner Space] by CAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.69 | 81 ratings

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Can [Aka: Inner Space]
Can Krautrock

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The penultimate album by the late, great Krautrockers of CAN (before their final mid- 1980s reunion) originally appeared twice (actually two-and-a-half times) on their page here at Prog Archives. My copy is the cheesy 1985 Thunder Records re-package of the untitled 1979 original, one of the first compact discs I ever bought, which is only fitting, since the LP marked my initial exposure to arguably the best musical group of the late 20th Century.

In retrospect it wasn't an ideal introduction, and I wouldn't recommend it as such to anyone else. Can had been treading water for several years at that point, drifting a little too far from their more exploratory Krautrock roots after signing to Virgin Records in 1975. But this self-titled album (only later re-christened "Inner Space", the name of their home studio) at least marked a rehabilitation of sorts, sounding like a breath of fresh air compared to the uninspired doodling of their previous "Out of Reach" (the two albums were subsequently combined and sold on a single CD, a decent bargain for Can completists with money to burn).

First the good news: Holger Czukay, the band's irrepressible radio wave surfer and occasional bass guitarist, was back in the fold, although he doesn't actually touch a musical instrument here (this throwaway CD re-issue doesn't even mention it, but on the original vinyl he was listed as an "editor"). You can still detect his presence, however, not least on the oddball interlude "Ping Pong", believe it or not one of the highlights of the album.

This is pure Czukay: a 20-second (or so) audio-verité documentary of, you guessed it, a game of ping-pong, rather sloppily played while someone thumbs a kalimba in the background. Czukay's deadpan sense of humor also animates the faux-punk demolition of Offenbach's "Can-Can", an obvious choice for the band's periodic "Ethnological Forgery Series" of cultural facsimiles, and the best musical joke of its kind since Thijs Van Leer yodeled his way through "Hocus Pocus".

It was probably this track, and its ragged epilogue "Can Be", that sold my unrefined ears on the album in the first place, in much the same way that ELP's energetic update of Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown" jump-started my earliest interest in Prog Rock years before. "Can-Can", by the way, is listed as EFS #99, one of only a handful in the ongoing series to appear throughout the band's history. So where are all the rest?

The balance of the album is built on impeccably played but undemanding dance music for people (like me) with two left feet. "All Gates Open" is the best of the lot, with a sinuous subterranean groove, some funky chunky guitar, and a shifting wall of keyboard noise, always a Can specialty. But the other tracks tend to follow the example set by "Sunday Jam", a pleasant enough diversion with an all-too literal title, and like a lot of later Can music notably a jam, unlike the more challenging "instant composition" improvs of their earlier years.

In all, not the best swan song for such a groundbreaking and influential band (and a premature ending anyway: see 1989's more improved "Rite Time"), but in the context of their late '70s downward career arc a much better effort than could have been expected.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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