Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

From the Vinyl Stack: Betty Davis

June 1, 2006

From the Vinyl Stack: Can

There are a few bands that you’ll find it impossible to search online. There’s the Who, the Doors, the Cars, and Spoon, to name a few. However, there’s one late ‘60s-early ‘70s German rock band that tops that list.
Can, the German rockers who formed in 1968, are the definitive band of the krautrock genre. The band was composed completely of German members (Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Irmin Schmidt, and Jaki Liebezeit), with the only exception being African-American vocalist Malcolm Mooney.
On top of being a huge voice in the krautrock genre, Can were also one of the definitive originators of jamming. On their 1969 debut album Monster Movie, the band released a track entitled “You Doo Right.” The song was a 20 minute excerpt of a 6 hour jam (which allegedly only stopped after the amplifiers started smoking).
Mooney left the band after the release of the 1970 album Soundtracks. After a nervous breakdown, he returned to America. Only later would he briefly reunite with the original Can line-up to record the album Rite Time. In 1998, Mooney released his first solo album, only to be followed by an album released in 2003 along with David Tyack.
The band replaced Mooney with Japanese singer Kenji “Damo” Suzuki in 1970, who actually recorded a few songs on Soundtracks alongside a soon-to-be-gone Mooney. However, after the albums Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days, Suzuki also left the band. His reason? To become a Jehovah’s Witness.
The later days of Can, although not very successful, saw original members Karoli and Schmidt sharing duties as lead vocalist. Also, former members of the band Traffic (another band name that is nearly impossible to Google) Anthony Reebop Kwaku Baah and Rosco Gee joined up for the 1977 album Saw Delight. However, after a couple of albums that were shunned by members of the band themselves, the band broke up in 1979.
Although all of the surviving members of Can are still working on solo projects and collaborating (Michael Karoli died in 2001 after fighting cancer), the real story is the inspiration that Can left for many bands. Can inspired such artists as the Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, and even Brian Eno.
Although Can’s lyrics weren’t exactly the most coherent thing to listen to (as proved in the band’s “Little Star of Bethlehem”), Can is undeniably one of the greatest classic progressive indie bands of all time.

-Evan Minsker

waldofan13@aol.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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