Customer Review

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars basic but intense, 18 Sep 2006
This review is from: Can Delay 1968 (Audio CD)
This album originally came out in the early 1980s but covers roughly the same period (late 1968 and much of 1969) as their debut album, "Monster Movie" and likewise features their original singer, Malcolm Mooney.

The title is slightly misleading as it would seem only one track (Man Named Joe) was definitely recorded in 1968 - the rest was recorded between January and October 1969. But despite being, essentially, a bunch of out-takes recorded over nearly a year, it has a very consistent sound that makes it sound like a proper album.

It is, however, not one of Can's most consistent albums in terms of content - the very early Man Named Joe is a bit scrappy and Little Star Of Bethlehem is not strong enough musically to carry the endless repetition of a lyric that can only have seemed like a good idea if all concerned were extremely stoned, unless perhaps Malcolm Mooney was parodying banal stoned ramblings. But apart from these two tracks, both of which have their virtues, the album is pretty strong. The two longer pieces (Butterfly and Uphill) in particular show a strong influence of the noisier end of the Velvet Underground, though not lyrically, and both wield considerable power, with guitarist Michael Karoli unleashing some vicious fuzz licks on the latter; along with Outside My Door from "Monster Movie" and Mother Sky from "Soundtracks" these are the most overtly rock pieces in Can's early work. Thief, one of two tracks they recorded during a residency in Zurich, is the strongest song here, and the emotional intensity is quite overwhelming. This comes from the interplay of Karoli's stinging guitar, the hypnotic rhythm section and Mooney's emotionally raw vocals. Not a trained or even particularly good singer, when he was emotionally involved in a lyric he could invest it with a terrifying power that was all soul rather than artistry; Thief is as good as anything on the more celebrated "Monster Movie", Butterfly and Uphill come pretty close.

Given the very basic circumstances of the recordings - backing tracks were recorded on 2-track tape machine with a second 2-track machine enabling overdubs, and most of the tracks were recording in a makeshift studio in a room they were given use of in a castle - everything on this album has considerable clarity, heft and presence, much increased by the excellent remastering job.

Anyone who's enjoyed "Monster Movie" will find this pretty essential, if patchier; anyone who's only heard the late 80s CD issue of this will be blown away by the improvement in the sound. It's an important document of Can's earliest, most minimalist period - Malcolm Mooney was only with them for 14 months before a breakdown led him to return to the USA, so a second album from this crucial period of Can's early development is a huge bonus.
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