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This review is from: Lost Tapes Box Set (Audio CD)
You wait umpteen years for a CD of previously unissued Can music and the proverbial three come along at once...
You could describe this as Unlimited Edition Volume 2. But there are major differences and not just the fact that there's nearly three times as much music here. Firstly, very little on Unlimited Edition bore any relation to any previously issued Can song. Whereas here, there are a whole host of familiar(ish) tunes: On The Way To Mother Sky, A Swan Is Born and Desert are early variants of, unsurprisingly, Mother Sky, Sing Swan Song and Soul Desert, none quite in the league of the previously released versions; Messer, Scissors, Fork And Light is a series of variations on Spoon, used in the soundtrack of the TV detective series for which Spoon itself was the theme and edited together for this set; Dead Pigeon Suite does much the same with Vitamin C; and Midnight Men, from yet another soundtrack, not only fuses elements of both Hunters And Collectors and Vernal Equinox but is unmistakeably the source of the backing track of Oh Lord Give Us More Money on Holger Czukay's Movies album. Also unlike Unlimited Edition, The Lost Tapes includes nearly an hour of live material, some of which is, again, familiar in tune if not always in widely circulated versions. The sound quality of the live material is, in almost all cases, far better than on the 2 live CDs issued as part of the Can box.
Of the remainder, there is a high proportion of material from Can's earliest days - 11 tracks are from 1968 and 1969, though not all feature Malcolm Mooney - one or two even predate his arrival in late 1968. Another 11 cover the Damo Suzuki era, leaving only 8 tracks from their last 5 years. Several of the Mooney tracks (Waiting For The Streetcar, Deadly Doris, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Whore, Midnight Sky) feature ferocious if rather tuneless grooves - there are no previously unheard songs of the calibre of, say, Thief or Empress And The Ukraine King but all of these tracks are great fun and Mooney is on fine form. True Story features Mooney improvising a story over solo organ and is very funny. Several tracks (Blind Mirror Surf, When Darkness Comes, Evening All Day) are very enigmatic and free-form; Oscura Primavera is a very pretty instrumental that sounds more from the Future Days era than 1968; Millionenspiel, pre-dating Malcolm Mooney's arrival, is a driving and tightly structured instrumental from a film soundtrack; Graublau is a lengthy & frenetic cut-up of music from the same film as She Brings The Rain, though none of it bears any relation to that song. Bubble Rap and Abra Cada Braxas are, respectively, studio and live jams featuring Damo, typical of the period. And so on ...
So, does it rival Tago Mago or Ege Bamyasi? No. But there's an awful lot to like here if you're fan. Personal favourites include Millionenspiel; Waiting For The Streetcar; Graublau; Bubble Rap; True Story; Spoon (live - a widely bootlegged version); Dead Pigeon Suite; Abra Cada Braxas; Midnight Men; Networks Of Foam; Messer, Scissors, Fork And Light; Mushroom (live - again widely bootlegged) and, finally, the superb live version of One More Saturday Night. These amount to about two thirds of the total playing time and the remainder is by no means without merit. Apparently this slightly over 3 hours of music was edited down from 50 hours of tapes found in a cupboard in their old studio. It's hard to believe that the remaining 47 hours of tape contained nothing worth hearing but Irmin Schmidt is adamant in the booklet that this is all we're getting, so this set probably represents a full stop in terms of previously unissued Can music. Still, for years there was no sign of anything like this being released, so who knows?