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5.0 out of 5 stars
Lost and Found, 9 Mar 2013
Can - The Lost Tapes box set
In the late 1960's, that wild and pre-digital era, something happened in Cologne, Germany. Some musicians with a background in experimental jazz and Stockhausen came together. On keyboards was Irmin Schmidt, a trained conductor of classical music. Their heads had been turned by hearing the Velvet Underground. The inclusion of Malcolm Mooney an American artist with a gift for improvised singing and Michael Karoli who was every inch a rock guitarist sealed the deal. Named Can, their first album `Monster Movie' in 1968 saw them pick up the trail from the Velvet Underground's extended jam `Sister Ray'. With the strong rhythm laid down by Jaki Leibezeit on drums and Holger Czukay on bass the transition into rock music was total and fascinating.
The group's next phase began when Japanese singer Damo Suzuki filled the gap left by Malcolm's departure. The albums with Damo (who still regularly performs unmissable improvised gigs with pick up musos around the globe) were totemic, and had a sound and sense of experiment that was all their own. `Tago Mago' had a sound that was both daring and beautiful. It was followed by `Soundtracks', `Ege Bamyasi' and `Future Days', mesmerising stuff.
Damo departed, though I saw his last gig with them in Edinburgh in 1973. They continued to record and tour as a mainly instrumental unit, with `Soon Over Babaluma' and `Landed' being the albums I most cherish from that period. The individual development of the musicians led them into solo projects, and after a decade of fruitful music Can was no more. Except for the legacy they had left in unreleased material.
The fascination exerted on their loyal following and subsequent generations has meant them being referred to so often as `legendary' and that honour was earned by them on so many different levels. They were trailblazers, and the vast amount of recording done in their home made studios during the Can decade had emerged on albums such as `Limited Edition' and `Delay 1968'.
I was therefore incredulous to find this 5 L.P./ 3 c.d. set of more unreleased material from every phase of the group's development. Listening to `The Lost Tapes' I can only begin to imagine how ecstatic this release has made any fan of Can. It is just stunning that so much quality material as gone unreleased over the years.
I won't attempt to give my reactions to each and every jewel included in this set, but there's not much on this 30 track album that is not aural heaven for me. The rock jams are potent, Malcolm's contributions are right on the money, and the stratospheric sound they developed with Damo and after are well represented. Some well chosen material from gigs (gigs were always improvisational) also sits neatly in this set. Great to sit back and hear all this wonderful music from the vaults. The Lost and FOUND Tapes.
As a footnote I will recommend to you Nick Kent's review of the `Soon Over Babuluma' album which appeared in the mid-70's in the NME. While others struggled to describe Can's sound, Kent did the job without the need to be sycophantic. Nice one, Nick.