Our first ever article from 7th July 2005, aw bless!
I'm delighted to say that today the latest Can remasters arrived. To say I was happy was an understatement. Landing on my desk at work were "Future Days", "Soon Over Babaluma, "Landed" amd "Unlimited Edition". All 4 are packaged in exactly the same manner as the previous 4, with plenty of previously unseen photos, new sleeve notes and exceedingly good sound remastering.
I had only heard these albums on the previous CD issues, never on vinyl, so to hear these versions is like having an extra dimension added. A giant step closer to how those elusive records must sound.
Ambling through these 4 recordings, you can feel the evolution of Can. For a start, "Future Days" was their last album with their second vocalist, Damo Suzuki. For me, the marked difference with "Future Days" is that they seem to be slipping into a groove. The songs feel more affable, more laid-back but never lazy. There's an overwhelmingly peaceful feel to this album. Could this really be the same band who recorded "Aumgn"? It's more the band who made "Bring Me Coffe Or Tea". Confident, laid-back but as innovative as ever.
On "Soon Over Babaluma", they find themselves stripped down to the essential musical 4-piece that many view as the heart of Can. However, as soon as guitar wizard Michael Karoli takes the microphone for the aptly named "Dizzy Dizzy", it becomes clear that Can have been completely unfazed by any departure. "Soon Over Babaluma" sees Can flirt teasingly with more conventional song structures, only to leave their typical forward-looking vision all over them. "Come sta, La Luna" sounds like a cross between Latin jazz, an Eastern european funeral lament and reggae. "Splash" again has a slight Latin feel to the keyboards, while Karoli teases impossible sounds out of his instrument (it's hard to tell if he's playing a guitar or a violin, such is his unique style). Meanwhile, Jaki & Holger bash out a frantic, nevous amphetamine rhythm.
"Landed" meanwhile sees Can take a veracious bite into rock. The album leaps into life with the big sing along of "Full Moon On The Highway". I have to admit to being previously a bit suspect about "Landed" but hearing it here in top notch sound, it's qualities become a lot more aparent. "Vernal Equinox" sees Karoli doing the same kind of guitar shamanism that marked him so highly on "Mother Sky" while Hogler & Jaki get frantic and Irmin gets off into the voids of space. "Red Hot Indians" is a bizare, tribal, funk stomp and "Half Past One" is the kind of psychedelia that only Can could conjure up. Of course, there's still outrageous journies into inner space such as "Unfinished" which is over 13 minutes of Can at their furthest from earth.
One of the joys of Can is that they never made albums that sounded even remotely similar. Hell, even over the course of one album you were served such a banquet of sounds that it was hard to credit that you were listening to 1 bands' studio album and not a well-crafted mix tape. So, when you tuck into "Unlimited Edition" which is a compilation of 19 unreleased tracks from 1968 to 1975, you know you're in a pretty wild place. It's got tracks with their two very distinctive vocalists, Malcolm Mooney (on 4 songs) & Damo Sazuki (on 5 songs) and introduces their E.F.S. (Ethnological Forgery Series). With the CD filled up to the brim (1 hour, 17 minutes and 31 seconds worth of Can), this is a CD that can't let you down. It's always a major sign of a major talent when the stuff they throw away is better than the stuff most people release.
These remastered editions really are a joy to own. They work in normal CD players, but give it that little extra when popped in a SACD player. Whatever your thoughts about CDs as a format, these remasters are essential if we want Can to be embraced by a generation that doesn't embrace vinyl. It's proof that we are not wrong about this music to see such care and attention lavished on it. If you've already got these albums on vinyl and don't own a SACD player, then you probably needn't worry too much about buying these, but if you have just downloaded them or bought the earlier CDs or if [SHOCK] you don't own them at all then get your arse down to your local record shop and buy these. They may be a little dearer than this weeks chart releases, but you know for a fact that you are going to be playing them for a very long time!
Review by Ned Netherwood