Well, here we enter a controversial part of the Can history. Controversial, because popular opinion generally states that these albums weren't very good. So, what does hindsight and remastering do for the embarrasing end of the Can catalogue? Well, firstly, they've rubbed "Out Of Reach" off the discography. It's not listed on their site nor is it getting a remaster. So they've owned up to "Out Of Reach" being crap, but they've also represented 3 other albums of that era in this last blast of remasters.
It all starts with 1976's "Flow Motion" which saw them getting on Top Of The Pop's with the opening track "I Want More". Obviously, this is their most commercial sounding album, and is actually a whole lot of fun. There's still some very fine freak out moments, like on "Smoke (E.F.S. No.59) and the title track, as well as little delves into disco and reggae. Not their peak, but still a damn fine album and perfect for Summer days.
1977's "Saw Delight" saw a major line-up alteration. Holger Czukay moved over from the bass to using a wave receiver to bring radio broadcasts into the music. Replacing him was former Traffic member Roscko Gee on bass, alongside another Traffic escapee, Reebop Kwaku Baah on percussion. Curiously, despite the dramtic change, this album still manages to work. Opening up with the classic Can groove as used on "Moonshake" from the early album "Future Days", it delves heavily into world music and yet still has that Can feel. When I first came across this album I considered it a dreary, middle of the road dissapoinment. Listening to it again, I find myself enjoying. It could be the wonderful job done in remastering it or it could just be blind hero worship. I'm not sure.
The band have declined to remaster, reissue or acknowledge the next album "Out Of Reach", so it's straight onto 1978's "Can". Here, even I loose patience. "Can" is crap. Boring, dreary, flat and annoying. It features a ridiculous version of the "Can Can" and becomes so irksome, as to make it a test of patience and endurance to get all the way through it. Holger Czukay had left at this point and was brought in to edit the record together. I can't imagine what he thought when he heard it but to me this album is definitley not a patch on any of his classic solo albums.
However, things pick up now as the next Can album took a step back in time to their 1968 recordings, which Holger edited together into an album. Rawer and wilder than the songs from their debut album "Monster Movie", this introduced the world to classic, lost tracks with original vocalist Malcolm Mooney such as "Butterfly" and the song Radiohead covered during their classic 1997 Glastonbury set, "Thief". What's even more impressive is the way the remastering has done such a good job of replicating the sound of the original vinyl version.
It all ends with the surprise 1986 reunion of the original line-up, complete with Holger and Malcolm. Strangely enough, they never got round to mixing it until 1988. The reception given at the time was rather luke warm, but with the benefit of hindsight, "Rite Time" is actually a really good album. Nothing like any of their other albums, as it should be. Bursting with warmth, humour and personality, it's influence could be heard on some of the most spectacular new bands to emerge after it's release, particularly Happy Mondays and The Sugarcubes.
I know not everyone will agree with me. Many of you will think I am being too lenient on "Flow Motion" and "Saw Delight", others will think I was too harsh on "Can" but I can honestly say that the above opinions are my own honest reactions. You, dear reader, will have to decide what you think and what you want to buy.
Review by Ned Netherwood