After releasing eleven albums in eleven years, Can called time on their career in 1979. By then, Can were rightly regarded by critics as one of the most important, influential and innovative bands of the Krautrock era. However, like many of the Krautrock bands, Can hadn’t enjoyed the commercial success that their music had deserved. While their music found an a small, but discerning audience in Britain and France, Can, like many of the other Krautrock bands had failed to find audience in Germany. Eventually, though, things would change.
Thirty-eight years later, there has been a resurgence of interest in Krautrock, and especially some of the genre’s leading lights. This includes Can, who are now regarded Krautrock royalty. At last, groups like Can are receiving the recognition their music deserves. Despite this, many people who are just discovering Can’s music, are often unsure where to start?
Most critics and connoisseurs of Can’s music will have their own opinion with which albums are the perfect introduction. However, some music fans like to start with a compilation, which gives them an overview of a band’s music. Newcomers to Can will see that there are several compilations available, including Opener, the Cannibalism and Anthology-25 Years. While these compilations have their merits, the proliferation of Can compilations leaves newcomers to their music wondering where to start? Maybe the answer is a new compilation released by Spoon Records, The Singles. It’s a twenty-three track overview that covers Can’s entire career which started in 1968.
Can were formed in 1968, by Holger Czukay and Irmin Schmidt. Both had been students of Karlheinz Stockhausen and graduated in 1966. By then, Irmin Schmidt was twenty-nine. He was born in Berlin on ‘29th’ May 1937, and grew up playing piano and organ. Soon, it was apparent that he was a talented musician, and came as no surprise that Irmin headed to the conservatorium in Dortmund, to study music. This was just the start of Irmin’s studies.
From there, Irmin moved to Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, before moving to Austria, and the Mozarteum University of Salzburg. The final part of Irmin’s musical education took place in Cologne, where Irmin met Holger.
The two future founding members of Can were studying composition under Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Cologne Courses For New Music. Between 1962 and 1966, Irmin and Holger studied composition. However, after they graduated, their lives headed in different directions.
Holger Czukay became a music teacher, and began a career educating a new generation of young Germans. Meanwhile, Irmin headed to New York.
During his time in New York, Irmin spent time with avant-garde musicians like Steve Reich, Terry Riley and La Monte Young. Soon, Irmin Scmidt was aware of Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground. This inspired him to form his own band when he returned home to Cologne.
By the time Irmin Scmidt returned home, Holger Czukay what he described to me “as a life-changing moment…the music of the past and present came together.” At last; “here was music that made the connection between what I’d studied and I was striving towards.” With the innovative use of bursts of radio and the experimental sound and structure, “I went in search of similar music.”
He found Velvet Underground, who made a huge impact on Holger. So much so, that he still remembers hearing Velvet Underground for the first time. “They were different…and really influential. They influenced the music I made.” This would include the music Holger Czukay made with Can.
When Irmin Scmidt returned home, he decided to form a band with his old friend Holger Czukay. So in Cologne in 1968, Can was born.
Pianist and organist Irmin Schmidt formed Can with American avant-garde flautist David C. Johnson and bassist Holger Czukay. Up until then, the trio had exclusively played avant-garde classical music. Now their ambitions lay beyond that. Their influences included garage, rock, psychedelia, soul and funk. So they brought onboard three new members of the group, which started life as Inner Space, and then became The Can. Eventually, they settled on Can, an acronym of communism, anarchy, nihilism
The first two new additions were guitarist Michael Karoli and drummer Jaki Liebezeit. Vocalist and New York-based sculptor Malcolm Mooney joined the band midway through 1968. By then, they were recording material for an album Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom. Two tracks, Father Cannot Yell and Outside My Door were already recorded. Unfortunately, record companies weren’t interested in Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom. As a result, it wasn’t released until 1981, when it was released as Delay 1968. Undeterred, Can continued to record what became their debut album, Monster Movie.
Despite not being able to interest a record company in Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom, Can were confident in their own ability. So Can continued recording what would become their debut album Monster Movies. However, soon, there was a problem.
David C. Johnson left Can at the end of 1968. He was disappointed at the change in musical direction. Little did he realise that he’d lost the chance to be part of one of the most groundbreaking band’s in musical history, Can and one of their most influential albums…Monster Movie.
Monster Movie had been recorded in Schloss Nörvenich, which is a 14th Century castle in North Rhine-Westphalia. Can recorded Monster Movie between 1968 and 1969. Gradually, it took shape and eventually, and the album was ready for released.
When Monster Movie was released August 1969, Can were still billed as The Can. This would soon change. So would music with the release of their debut album Monster Movie.
Can’s career started as they meant to go on, when they released what was a groundbreaking, genre-melting opus. Monster Movie was a fusion of blues, free jazz, psychedelia, rock and world music. There was one influence that shown through, the music of the Velvet Underground influence. It’s as if Can have been inspired by Velvet Underground and pushed musical boundaries to their limits.
Throughout Monster Movie, Can improvised, innovated and experimented. Multilayering and editing played an important part in Monster Movie’s avant-garde sound. So did spontaneous composition, which Can pioneered.
Spontaneous composition was hugely important in Can’s success. Holger Czukay remembers: “that the members of Can were always ready to record. They didn’t take time to think. It was spontaneous. The music flowed through them and out of them.” Holger remembers that he was always: “given the job of pressing the record button. This was a big responsibility as the fear was failing to record something we could never recreate.” In some ways, Can were an outlet for this outpouring of creativity, which gave birth to a new musical genre.
This new musical genre was dubbed Krautrock by the British music press. Not only was Monster Movie the album that launched Can’s career, but marked the birth of a new musical genre, Krautrock. The founding father’s of Krautrock was Can.
Having released their debut album Monster Movie in August 1969, Can returned with their sophomore album in 1970, Soundtracks. Essentially, Soundtracks was a compilation of tracks Can wrote for the soundtracks to various films. It’s the album that marked the departure of vocalist Malcolm Mooney. Replacing him, was Japanese busker, Kenji Damo Suzuki. He features on five of the tracks, contributing percussion and vocals. The addition of Damo wasn’t the only change Can were making.
Soundtracks was a coming of age for Can. It marked a move away from the psychedelic jams of Monster Movie and a move towards their classic sound. That saw the music becoming much more experimental and avant-garde. The music took an ambient, meditative, mesmeric and thoughtful sound. This had already featured on 1969 Can’s debut single Soul Desert, which featured She Brings The Rain the B-Side. Alas, the single didn’t even trouble the charts, and nowadays, is a prized item among collectors. However, for Can an important period of their career had begun.
The release of Soundtracks marked the beginning of what became known as Can’s classic years, when albums like Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days were released. During this period, Can released the golden quartet and it seemed, could do no wrong.
The first instalment in the golden quartet was Tago Mago, which was the first album where Kenji Damo Suzuki was a permanent member of Can. He and the rest of Can spent a year in the castle in Schloss Nörvenich. It was owned by an art collector named Mr. Vohwinkel who allowed Can to stay at Schloss Nörvenich rent free. For what Holger described as: “a poor man’s band,” this was perfect.
Holger remembers Can during this year as: “just jamming and seeing what took shape. Songs started as lengthy jams and improvised pieces.” This Holger says: “how Can always worked” After that, Holger edited the songs which became and the mini masterpieces featured on Tago Mago, which was four months in the making.
For four months between November 1970 and February 1971, Can recorded what would become one of their most innovative and influential albums, Tago Mago.
It was a double album that featured seven groundbreaking tracks. Tago Mago was released in February 1971. and straight away, critics realised the importance of Tago Mago. Here was a game-changer of an album. It has an intensity that other albums released in 1971 lacked. Jazzier with an experimental sound, the music is mysterious, mesmeric and multilayered. It’s innovative, with genres and influences melting into one. Nuances, subtleties and surprises reveal themselves. No wonder, Can were at the peak of their creative powers as they deliver what was regarded as an avant-garde masterclass.
This comes courtesy of jazz-tinged drumming, improvised guitar playing and showboating keyboard solos. Then there was Kenji Damo Suzuki’s unique vocal style. All this, resulted in an album that was critically acclaimed, influential and innovative.
Released to widespread critical acclaim in 1971, Tago Mago was the start of a golden period for Can. Their reputation as one of the most innovative groups of the seventies started to take shape. Can had released one of the most innovative albums, Tago Mago. Holger remembers the reaction to Tago Mago. “I knew Tago Mago was an innovative album, but I never realised just how innovative an album it would become?
On Tago Mago’s release, it was hailed as their best album yet. Although they didn’t regard themselves as a singles band, Can still released singles to promote Tago Mago. In Britain, Spoon was released as a single, with I’m So Green on the B-Side. Meanwhile, in Germany Turtles Have Short Legs a non-album track had been released as a single with Halleluwah on the B-Side. The other single was I’m So Green, which featured Mushroom on the flip-side. While none of the singles made any impact on the charts, Tago Mago had already left its mark on music.
Since then, several generations of musicians have been inspired by Tago Mago, a true Magnus Opus, that belongs in every record collection. So does the followup Ege Bamyasi.
Before Can began even began to think of their next album, they enjoyed their first hit single. They had released Spoon as a single in 1972, with Shikaku Maru Ten on the B-Side. It reached number six in Germany, selling over 300,000 copies. That was helped no end, by the single being used as the theme to a German thriller Das Messer. It seemed nothing could go wrong for Can. Can were on a roll.
With the money they had made from Spoon, they started to think about recording their next album. The only problem was they hadn’t anywhere they could record an album. This was a huge problem. While most bands would’ve hired a recording studio, it had taken many months for Can to complete previous albums and hiring a studio for such a lengthy period would prove prohibitively expansive It made more sense to hire a space that could be turned into a makeshift studio. A decision was made to advertise to see if anyone had a suitable space to record Can’s next album. Their luck was in, when Can were offered the opportunity to hired a disused cinema to record their fourth album, which became Ege Bamyasi.
Recording began in the disused cinema, which doubled as a recording studio and living space. The sessions at Inner Space Studio, in Weilerswist, near Cologne didn’t go well. Irmin Schmidt and Kenji Damo Suzuki took to playing marathon chess sessions. As a result, Can hadn’t enough material for an album. This resulted in Can having to work frantically to complete Ege Bamyasi. Despite this, Can were still short of material. It was then that a decision was made to add their hit single Spoon, which meant that Ege Bamyasi was, at last, completed.
Ege Bamyasi was a fusion of musical genres. Everything from jazz, ambient, world music, psychedelia, rock and electronica melted into one. When it was Ege Bamyasi released in November 1972, it was to the same critical acclaim as previous albums. Critics were won over by Can’s fourth album. It was perceived as a more accessible album than its predecessors. Just like Can’s previous albums, the quality of music was consistent.
Critics hailed Can as one of the few bands capable of creating consistent and pioneering albums. They were one of the most exciting bands of the early seventies. Can were continuing to innovate and influence musicians and music lovers alike. Just like its predecessor, Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi is an essential part of any self-respecting record collection. Having released two consecutive classic albums and their first single, it seemed nothing could go wrong for Can.
Despite Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi being referred to as two of the most influential albums ever released, Holger Czukay prefers Future Days. This is the album he calls: “my favourite Can album.” It was the third in Can’s golden quartet, and marked a change in direction from Can.
Future Days saw Can’s music head in the direction of ambient music. The music is atmospheric, dreamy, ethereal, melancholy, expansive and full of captivating, mesmeric rhythms. It’s also pioneering and progressive, with elements of avant-garde, experimental, psychedelia and rock melting into one. Rather than songs, soundscapes describes the four tracks. Future Days and Bel Air showcase Can’s new sound. Bel Air was the Future Day’s epic. It lasted just over nineteen minutes, and takes the listeners on an enthralling musical journey. Bell Air was the final part of Future Days, which was another opus from Can.
When Future Days was released in August 1973, it was immediately hailed a classic by music critics. The move towards ambient music may have surprised some Can fans. However, Can, just like Brian Eno were one of the early pioneers ambient music in the seventies. This move towards ambient music must have pleased Holger’s guru Karlheinz Stockhausen. He must have looked on proudly as Can released the third of a quartet of classic albums. Two months the release of Future Days, Moonshake was released as a single in October 1973, with Future Days on the B-Side. Alas, it didn’t replicate the success of Spoon. Despite that, Can would continued to enjoy critical acclaim when they released the final album in the golden quartet, Soon Over Babaluma in 1974.
Soon Over Babaluma.
Soon Over Babaluma marked the end of Can’s golden period. It was the end of a period where they were releasing some of their most innovative and groundbreaking music. There was a change of direction on Soon Over Babaluma. Can were without a vocalist.
Kenji Damo Suzuki had left Can and married his German girlfriend. He then decided to become a Jehovah’s Witness. Despite the lack of a vocalist, Can continued as a quartet, and released Soon Over Babaluma in November 1974.
When Soon Over Babaluma was released in November 1974, the album quite rightly received praise and plaudits from both critics and cultural commentators.With a myriad of beeps, squeaks and sci-fi sounds, Soon Over Babaluma is like musical journey into another, ‘21st’ Century dimension. A musical tapestry where layers of music are intertwined during five tracks on Soon Over Babaluma. A month later, Dizzy Dizzy was released as a single with Come Sta La Luna on the B-Side. This was the final single Can released from the golden quartet.
The golden quartet ended with another album classic album from Can. Soon Over Babaluma followed in the ambient footsteps of Future Days and brought to a close the most fruitful period of Can’s career. Following the “golden quartet,” Can didn’t go into decline. Instead, Can continued to reinvent themselves and their music.
Can’s next album, Landed, was released in September 1975. It had been recorded between February and April 1972 at Inner Space Studios. Just like previous albums, Can produced Landed. Holger and Tony Robinson mixed the first four tracks at Studio Dierks, Stommeln. The other two tracks were mixed by Holger at Inner Space Studios. These six tracks marked a change of direction from Can.
As well as a change in direction musically, Landed was the first Can album to be released on Virgin Records. Gone was the ambient sound of Soon Over Babaluma. Only Unfinished on Landed has an ambient influence. Instead, Landed showcased a poppy, sometimes glam influence. This was apparent on the singles Hunters and Collectors, and Silent Night Cascade Waltz which featured Vernal Equinox on the B-Side. Both songs showcased Can’s new sound. With uptempo, shorter songs, Landed was a much more traditional album. How would the critics react?
Critics were divided about Landed. Some critics saw Landed as the next chapter in the Can story, while others praised the album as adventurous, eclectic and innovative. Others thought Can were conforming. Surely not?
Just over a year after the release pot Landed, Can returned with Flow Motion, which was their eight album. As usual, it was recorded at Inner Space Studios and was produced by Can, Flow Motion was an album that drew inspiration from everything from funk, reggae, rock and jazz. It was a truly eclectic, genre-melting album. It’s also one of Holger Czukay’s favourite Can albums.
Holger remembers Flow Motion as an: “innovative and eclectic” album. He calls it: “one of Can’s underrated albums.” Flow Motion marked a another change in Can’s way of working.
Released in October 1976, Flow Motion featured lyrics written by Peter Gilmour. This was a first. Never before, had anyone outside the band had written for Can. It worked. Can enjoyed their first UK single I Want More which I Want More which featured…And More on the B-Side. I Want More would later be recorded Fini Tribe and then Italo disco group Galaxis. With what was just their second hit single in seven years, maybe Can were about to make a commercial breakthrough?
Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Saw Delight which was released in March 1977, wasn’t the commercial success many people forecast. That was despite the new lineup of Can embracing world music.
Joining Can were bassist Rosko Gee and percussionist and vocalist Rebop Kwaku Baah. They’d previously been members of British rock band Traffic. Rosko Gee replaced Holger on bass. Holger decided to add a percussive element, Holger added a myriad of sound-effects. This was Holger at his groundbreaking best. Experimental sounds including a wave receiver was used. The result was one of the most ambitious albums Can had released.
The new lineup of Can was responsible for a bold, progressive and experimental album. While Saw Delight was well received by critics, it wasn’t a commercial success. The problem was, Saw Delight was way ahead of its time. If it had been released in the eighties, like albums by Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel, it would’ve been a bigger commercial success. Sadly, by then Can would be no more. That was still to come.
Later in 1977, Can released Don’t Say No as a single. It featured Return on the B-Side. Alas, Can didn’t enjoy the third hit single of their career. When Can returned with their next album Out Of Reach, all wasn’t well within the Can camp.
Out Of Reach.
Nine years after Can had released their debut album, Monster Movie, they released their tenth album, Out Of Reach. It was released in July 1978. The title proved to be a prophetic. After all, commercial success always seemed to elude Can. Not only did Out Of Reach fail commercially, but the Out Of Reach proved to be Can’s most controversial album.
So much so, that they disowned Out Of Reach. On Out Of Reach Holger was left to add a myriad of sound-effects. Bassist Rosko Gee and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah of Traffic returned. They were part of the problem. Holger confirms this. “During the recording of Out Of Reach, I felt an outsider in my own group. I was on the outside looking in. I was on the margins. All I was doing was add sound-effects.” For Holger, he felt his group had been hijacked by Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah. Things got so bad, that Holger quit Can.
Sadly, Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah dominated Out Of Reach. Gone was the loose, free-flowing style of previous albums. Even Jaki Liebezeit’s play second fiddle to Baah’s overpowering percussive sounds. The only positive thing was a guitar masterclass from Michael Karoli. Apart from this, things weren’t looking good for Can. It was about to get worse though.
The critics rounded on Out Of Reach. They found very little merit in Out Of Reach. Gee and Baah were rightly blamed for the album’s failure. Even Can disliked Out Of Reach. They later disowned Out Of Reach. Despite this, Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah remained members of Can.
Unable to play with the necessary freedom Can were famed for, the two ex-members of Traffic stifled Can. Rebop’s percussion overpowers Jaki’s drums, which have always been part of Can’s trademark sound. At least Michael’s virtuoso guitar solos are a reminder of classic Can. A nod towards Carlos Santana, they showed Can were still capable of moments of genius. Sadly, there wouldn’t be many more of these.
Some time after the release of Out Of Reach, Can decided to release a new single. However, it wasn’t one of the songs from Out Of Reach. Instead, it was reworked version of Jacques Offenbach’s Can Can. This was somewhat surreal, and far removed from the music critics and record buyers expected from Can. They had moved far away from the music that featured on their golden quartet. Can’s loyal fans wondered what the future held for Can. Sadly, Can would breakup after their next album.
Following the commercial failure of Out Of Reach, the members of Can began recording what became their tenth album, Can. Remarkably, Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah were still part of Can. Sadly, Holger was not longer a member of Can. He had left during the making of Out Of Reach. His only involvement was editing Can. This was a travesty.
Allowing Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah to remain members of Can while Holger left the band he cofounded was a massive mistake. Faced with the choice or losing Holger or keeping Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah in Can, should’ve been a no-brainer. Incredibly, Holger was marginalised further.
Neither Rosko Gee nor Rebop Kwaku Baah were suited to a band like Can. Both came from a very different musical background, and as a result the decision to hire them initially was flawed and questionable. Their playing on Out Of Reach was odds with the way Can played. They had spent their career playing with freedom that resulted in inventive and innovative music. The much more rigid style of Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah stifled the other members of Can. To make matters worse, their playing overpowered the rest of Can, and was one of the reason’s for the album’s failure. Yet when recording of Can began, Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah remained.
Can, which is sometimes referred to as Inner Space, was released in July 1979. Again, critics weren’t impressed by Can, and the album received mixed reviews. No longer was Can the critic’s darlings.
The music on Can was a fusion of avant-garde, electronica, experimental, psychedelia and rock. Add to that, a myriad of effects including distortion and feedback, and here was an album that divided the opinion of critics. While the critics agreed, it was better than Out Of Reach. They also agreed that Holger was sadly missed.
Even Holger’s renowned editing skills couldn’t save Can. Try as he may, he could only work with what he was given. He did his best with Can, which the eleventh album from the group he co-founded. By the time Can was released, Holger: “had come to a realisation, that it was time to go his own way.” Holger describes this as “necessary.”
Can had split-up after the release of Can. That was their swan-song. However, even before that, Holger: “felt marginalised, this had been the case since Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah became part of Can. They had hijacked Can,” and ultimately, this lead to the death of a great and innovative band.
With Can now part of musical history, Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit set about reinventing themselves. Music critics wondered whether they would form new bands or embark upon solo careers? Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay and Michael Karoli all embarked upon solo careers. However, Can left behind a rich musical legacy that included the eleven albums they released between 1969 and 1980.
During that period, Can had enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. They were musical pioneers, who pushed musical boundaries and continued to release most ambitious and innovative music. This included their golden quartet of classic albums,Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, Future Days and Soon Over Babaluma. Each of these albums were regarded by critics as classics, and were a reminder of what Can had been capable of in their prime. Sadly, that was in the past.
Just a year after the release of Can, and the death of the group, Delay 1968 was belatedly released. This was the album that Can tried to release in 1968 as Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom. Despite approaching several record companies, they rejected opportunity to release an album that was way ahead of its time. Sadly, this meant that Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom languished unreleased in Can’s vaults.
Thirteen years later, and belatedly Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom was released as Delay 1968. It was a reminder of Can as they prepared to embark upon their career. Delay 1968 was an ambitious and progressive album, where elements of avant-garde, psychedelia, rock, experimental and what became known as Krautrock. At long last, critics and record buyers were able to understand just how Can’s career took shape.
Delay 1968 was the missing piece of the jigsaw, and was the album that should’ve launched Can’s career. It showcased Can as their career began, and was a stepping-stone that lead to Monster Movie. Very few record buyers realised this, and thought that Monster Movie was the first album Can recorded and released.
Obviously that wasn’t the case, because Can had already recorded Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom, which just like much of Can’s music, was way ahead of the musical curve. This became apparent when Delay 1968 was released in 1981. It was an important album, which may have changed musical history?
Suddenly, there were lots of unanswered questions. The first was if Can hadn’t recorded Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom, would their career have progressed in the way it had? One can speculate whether Can would’ve gone on to release their golden quartet of classic albums if they hadn’t released Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom? It was only when Delay 1968 was belatedly released in 1981 that critics realised the importance of the album.However, by then, it seemed that Can’s career was over. Or was it?
Five years later, in December 1986, Can were reunited, and began work on their comeback album Rite Time in the South of France. Many within the music industry thought that Can would never record another album. However, time seemed to heal the wounds and the five members of Can decided to record their twelfth album.
For the recording sessions, normal service was restored. Can’s lineup featured Jaki Liebezeit, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Irmin Schmidt, who had written eight new songs. They were joined in the studio by the vocalist Malcolm Mooney. However, Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah were nowhere to be seen. They were’t part of the reunion that marked the return of Can.
Once the eight songs that would eventually become Rite Time were recorded, three years passed before the album was released. During this period, Can undertook extensive editing of Rite Time. As a result, when the album was eventually released, it was a different album to the one Can had originally envisaged.
Critics on hearing Rite Time, discovered that Can hadn’t tried to replicate their classic sound. That remained firmly in the past. Instead, Can continued to reinvent their music. Especially on songs like Give The Drummer Some, which showcased Can’s funky side, while the single Hoolah Hoolah was tinged with humour. Only the album closer In The Distance Lies The Future, hints at Can’s previous abstract, ambient sound. While Rite Time wasn’t the finest album of Can’s career, critics thought it was an improvement on Can and Out Of Reach.
When Rite Time was eventually released in October 1989, the album sold reasonably well. Despite the resurgence of interest in Can’s music and Krautrock in general, the album wasn’t a huge seller. Nor was the single Hoolah Hoolah, which was the last single that Can would release.
Can would never again return to the studio, and Rite Time in 1989 was their swan-song. It was thirteenth studio album, and was released twenty-one years after Can was formed in 1968. Much happened during the next twenty-one years.
Can went on to release albums ambitious, progressive and innovative music. That is why nowadays, Can is considered Krautrock royalty, and sit proudly at Krautrock’s top table, alongside Neu!, Cluster, Harmonia and Kraftwerk. That is where they belong.
After all, the Krautrock Kings Can’s influence on music can’t be underestimated. They’ve influenced and inspired several generations of musicians, and that is still the case today. Even today, a new generation of musicians regularly cite Can as a major influence on their music. As a result, many music fans are discovering Can’s music for the first time.
The problem newcomers to Can’s music are faced with, is where to start? They’ve released thirteen studio albums and several compilations, including The Singles which was recently released by Spoon Records. Many music fans use albums like The Singles as a gateway to a band they’re unfamiliar with. While The Singles will give them an introduction to Can’s music, it’s a case of caveat emptor. Many of the twenty-three songs on The Singles are edits of the original songs. To include the complete versions of each song would’ve resulted in two, maybe even three discs. However, by using edits, twenty-three of Can’s singles fit onto one CD, but three LPs. However, The Singles is a good overview and introduction to Can’s career.
After The Singles compilation, the next Can albums to buy are golden quartet of classic albums including Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, Future Days and Soon Over Babaluma. Then I would suggest Monster Movie and Soundtracks. These are Can’s best albums, and belong in every record collection.
Having discovered the delights of Can through The Singles, this will probably result in the start of a voyage of discovery through their back-catalogue. During this musical voyage of discovery, newcomers to Can’s music will discover albums of groundbreaking music from one of the giants of Krautrock, whose music is important, influential and innovative.