Every Record I Own - Day 186: Can The Lost Tapes
This is the last day of my Can albums.
Comprised of five LPs and consisting of over three hours of music, The Lost Tapes features studio outtakes (and a few live songs) from the golden era of 1968-1975. As I’ve mentioned a few times over the course of discussing Can, the band cobbled their classic records together by tracking all of their jam sessions live to tape, and then tasked bassist Holger Czukay with editing their protracted improvisations down into structured songs. But whereas “jamming” is now associated with the endless virtuosic wanking of self-proclaimed “jam bands” like Phish, Can’s improvisations were minimalist modulations on very simple, repetitive grooves. No wonder they’re often seen as the indirect originators of ambient music and post-punk.
The material on The Lost Tapes came from nearly 30 hours of tape recovered from their old studio. These weren’t merely unedited practice sessions; these were finished tracks that either didn’t fit on the studio albums or commissioned songs for projects that were never completed. It boggles my mind that this stuff sat around for another 35 years after the studio outtakes compilation Unlimited Edition, especially since the material here is, in my opinion, much stronger. The 16-minute “Graublau” deserves to be held in the same regard as Can’s popular early epics like “Mother Sky”, “You Doo Right”, and “Halleluhwah”. “Midnight Sky” is a staple in every DJ set I’ve ever done. “Bubble Rap” has the gritty throb of Delay 1968, but with one of Suzuki’s most aggressive performances. And of course, there are a few of Can’s more outré studio experiments tucked in among the more straightforward jammers, but it wouldn’t be a proper Can record if it was all easy grooves and no headfucks.
If you’re a fan of the Mooney/Suzuki years, this is mandatory listening.