Can is a band I have loved since before I even heard them. It was the original sleeve of their Unlimited Edition album that did it for me. The weird looking people. The strange museum-like setting. Mind you, was only 16.
This boxed set/big download is real value for money for Can Fans, as the other reviews here will testify. But I'm torn, because a lot of water has flowed under the musical bridge since Can's heyday, and what was once forcefully original and musically adventurous may sometimes now sound brash and difficult.
Of the four primary members time has been the least kind to Michael Karoli, the guitarist who made it OK to play "wrong" notes. Not only has he departed this life, his legacy now sounds extremely ungainly, and his contribution probably accounts for most of the difficulty "normal" music fans have with Can. Certainly, the sonic quality and intonation of his guitar work grates on my ear, and I can't help wondering if most of these tracks were left in the vault simply because Karoli had no idea what he was doing. Folks, his guitar is out of tune!
Whilst I'm being picky let me point out that most of what Malcolm Mooney was doing also sounds somewhat awkward now. OK, he's making a lot of it up on the spot, and so a little licence should be given, but his endless repetition and hesitant flight of fancy techniques seem at times nothing more than amateurish. Again, time has not been kind.
But there is no doubt that Czukay is a kind of genius, and Liebzeit and Schmidt are each without peer in their respective fields. It is a testament to the solidity of their input that it was not overwhelmed by the less professional work of Karoli and Mooney.
I think there is a killer single album in here somewhere, but much of the boxed set is filler and of interest only to long time fans. Ditch the alternative/live/emerging versions of well known tunes and make them available as free downloads. Remaster and blend the half dozen brilliant tracks and charge the going price for them.
This isn't a dreadful album, but neither does it make a lasting final testament to one of the great pioneering bands.