What can one say about Can that hasn’t already been said? They stand like stalwarts above the rock pantheon for the rest of us to gaze in awe and wonder at their flights of fancy. But it wasn’t always like that. There were times in the early 70’s when they would have struggled to fill a medium sized venue, especially in their own country where, what was to become known as Krautrock or Cosmische Musik, was largely ignored in favour of American blues or soul based music. They had made inroads into the British music scene and had a cult following here which enabled them to stretch out musically. Freeform improvisation was always at the heart of what Can were about and live is where they excelled, so it makes sense for their spiritual home of Spoon records, who have been re-issuing and repackaging their works very successfully for some time now, should start a live series of releases, starting with this one. There is probably so much material sitting in the vaults that has yet to see the light of day, some of which have leaked over the years in bootleg or semi-bootleg form which give testament to this, that it is a very exciting prospect.
They lost their lead singer and main focus Damo Suzuki the year previously and had decided to continue on as a four piece, concentrating more on musical and ambient symbiosis, leading to the excellent Soon Over Babaluma which continued the ambient trajectory that they started on Future Days. It’s true to say that with the exit of Suzuki they had lost some of the fire and edge which made their earlier live recordings so dynamic, but to a sit down stoner audience of the mid 70’s this music is more appropriate to tune in and turn on to. Long funky beats from Jaki Leibzeit continue apace while Karoli skitters away with wah wah solos with occasional organ coughs and syncopation. There will be times when this music will be the perfect accompaniment to your aspirational lifestyle, whether that’s a futuristic white geodome with feature lighting and greige interiors, or a hippy pad with bean bags and beams, this music will complement any environment. You can drift into its soundscapes and be transported to worlds unique and unseen, or you can ignore it as aural wallpaper, that slides exotic shapes and colours down your walls.
What makes this unique is that all that you hear is being laid down before you by four individuals completely live, like watching someone laying a carpet before you as you walk, heading into who knows where, together, and completely locked in. It’s what gives an otherwise quite ambient wash of sound an edge, and piques your interest and keeps moving, continually moving forward into other unknown worlds. This is so much better than the later studio works, which sadly lose focus more and more from here on in, resulting in weaker and less essential music, diluted by aspiration and a loss of cohesion. Here they are still very much on it
What more can I say? It’s Can…buy it.
Live In Stuttgart 1975 is out on 28th May and is available to pre-order here.
Review by Andrew Wood