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Can’s mind-boggling 1972 ‘Free Concert’
07.27.2016
01:34 pm

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Music

Tags:
Can


 
I’ve seldom seen concert footage that was as inherently interesting as this 51-minute documentation of Can’s legendary “Free Concert,” recorded in Cologne’s Sporthalle on February 3, 1972. The show was filmed by Martin Schäfer, Robby Müller and Egon Mann for director Peter Przygodda, who is primarily known as the editor on many of Wim Wenders’ movies, including Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas, Alice in the Cities, and The American Friend. Similarly, Müller was Wenders’ main cinematographer and also shot several of Jim Jarmusch’s movies, including Dead Man, Down By Law, and Mystery Train.

The circumstances of this Cologne show were unusual. Rather improbably for such an experimental band, Can actually scored a chart success in Germany with “Spoon,” which would later be tacked onto the end of Ege Bamyasi. For reasons I don’t fully understand, the success of that song, which had been used in a German crime TV show called Das Messer (The Knife), led to this free concert, which was attended by approximately 10,000 people. In his 2006 book on Can, German writer Robert von Zahn explains that the concert did much to improve relations between the “communes” and “rock music,” whatever that means.

Note that the movie is not simply a concert film, it is a blend of a concert film and a documentary, with footage of Can during the Tago Mago sessions and in an airport, doing a soundcheck before the show, etc.
 

 
The resultant show was an odd mix of uncompromising music-for-music’s-sake and a well-nigh circus-esque determination to entertain. Right off the bat Can breaks into the hit, “Spoon,” and proves they’re not fucking around by expanding it from its tidy three-minute length on record into a full-blown 18-minute jam. The concert starts out with a juggler named Fred Ray joining Can on the stage; at the end of the show, during “Full Moon on the Highway,” Ray returns and does a bunch of impressive things with three brightly colored umbrellas.

After “Bring Me Coffee or Tea” about halfway through, a troupe of acrobats called Oberforstbach comes out and does their thing while Paul Joho plays the saw. (I know, right?) And of course Damo himself was not exactly boring to watch in his own right.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Can’s ‘Mother Sky’ as it was used in the creepy British cult film ‘Deep End’
07.13.2016
02:13 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Can
krautrock


 
“Mother Sky” from Can’s Soundtracks album was used to great effect in Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End (AKA “La Ragazza Del Bagno Pubblico”) the tale of a teenage stalker obsessed with a beautiful young woman (model Jane Asher, Paul McCartney’s pre-Linda 60s girlfriend) who is his coworker at a pool and bathhouse. 
 

 
Deep End was thought to be “lost” but a new film print was released in British cinemas in 2011, with a deluxe BFI produced Blu-ray DVD coming soon after. You can occasionally catch it on Turner Classic Movies. In a 1982 interview with Kristine McKenna for the NME, director David Lynch described Deep End as the only film he ever liked that was shot in color.

Below, the frantic “Mother Sky” as the number was used in the film:
 

 
Blistering live version of “Mother Sky” on German television after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Can met Japan: David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s wonderful ambient collaborations
06.30.2016
09:18 am

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Music

Tags:
Japan
Can
Holger Czukay
David Sylvian


 
The UK glam band Japan had a singularly interesting career—though influenced by the usual glam touchstones Bowie, Dolls, et al, their visual presentation directly predicted the New Romantic movement, and to this day the band is still somewhat incorrectly associated with that flamboyant scene, largely on the basis of similar haircuts. But Japan were more directly from the art-rock mold, experimenting with funk, electronics, and (surprise surprise) Asian musics. By 1982, as new-ro peaked, and the band was starting to climb from cult success to chart success, personal tensions broke them up. But the band’s singer, David Sylvian, continued as a solo artist in the avant-rock mold, collaborating with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, and releasing adventurous sophisto-pop albums inspired by jazz, prog, and contemporary classical.
 

 
On his 1984 solo debut Brilliant Trees, Sylvian was the beneficiary of vocal, brass and guitar contributions from Czukay, bassist of the long-running and influential Krautrock band Can. Though Czukay was a hired backup player on those sessions with no songwriting credits on the LP, the pair evidently found common creative ground. They’d record together in 1986, 1987, and 1988, those sessions ultimately becoming two wonderfully lush but little-known ambient LPs. Plight and Premonition, released in 1988, is a spooky and beautiful suite of two side-length songs (no points awarded for guessing that their titles are “Plight” and “Premonition”) in the Klaus Schultze vein, made with a combination of traditional instruments and manipulated radio sounds. Additionally, Czukay’s Can co-conspirator Jaki Liebezeit is credited with “Infra-sound,” which is science for “shit you can’t actually hear.”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Can go all disco-krautrock at the BBC, 1976
06.21.2016
11:00 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Can
krautrock


 
Seemingly searching for a new musical identity, Can—Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, Holger Czukay—performed their jaunty, jittery disco-fied “I Want More”—their only hit single in the UK, it got to #26—on Top of the Pops in 1976.

Smarmy TOTP presenter Noel Edmonds makes a terrible pun when he introduces them: “I wonder if Can will get into the top tin!” Ouch.

Then afterwards he “jokes”:

“We wanted to have them on at the beginning of the show, but then realized we couldn’t have a Can opener.”

Har har har. It’s tempting to put this into the same category as the Rolling Stones’ “Hot Stuff” from the same year. It’s brilliant and embarrassingly catchy, defying you not to dance, a testament to the talents of one of the greatest drummers who ever lived, Jaki Liebezeit.

“I Want More” is the opening number from their Flow Motion album.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Can you dig it? Watch Holger Czukay’s zany ‘TV commercial’ for his funky German band Can
04.12.2016
02:48 pm

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Music

Tags:
Can
Holger Czukay


 
I was researching something else entirely when I stumbled on this marvelous video of Holger Czukay, bassist for Can, giving a kind of carnival barker’s pitch for his “new-old group” some twenty years after the band’s prime.

Czukay speaks English throughout, and his slight German accent and penchant for odd wordplay as well as the somewhat daffy register of the entire shebang might remind some viewers of Monty Python.

I think this video had something to do with Can’s brief reunion in 1999, during which year the band celebrated its 30th anniversary, released Can Box, and played a series of shows, which were labeled the Can Solo Projects Tour. According to the Spoon Records website, the elusive Can Box includes “recordings from the period 1971-77, a tri-lingual book featuring a comprehensive group history, interviews, reviews and photos by Hildegard Schmidt and Wolf Kampmann plus a video with both the Can Free Concert film by Peter Przygodda, and the Can Documentary by DoRo-film.” Can Box is hard to find, but you can buy the CD set here and the book here.
 

 
The commercial, for want of a better word, appears to have been distributed to “record sellers and selleresses,” as Czukay puts it, and consists of little more than Czukay tootling on the French horn, then listing the members of Can who are involved in the 1999 reunion—if my guess is right—which consisted of Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, and Malcolm Mooney, the New York-based sculptor who was Can’s first singer.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street’: German TV thriller directed by Sam Fuller with soundtrack by Can
02.11.2016
03:46 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Can
Samuel Fuller


 
My mother was from Austria, and it’s through her that I came to learn of the incredible Tatort TV series that has existed in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria since 1970. There’s nothing really comparable to Tatort in America, although CBS’s practice of setting up CSI franchises in different cities provides a starting point to an explanation, as does the revolving door of homicide detectives in Law & Order.

The basic idea of Tatort is that it’s a police procedural series that exists in roughly a dozen different German-speaking cities—all at the same time. So think of it as a dozen different series with different police protagonists, all of which use the same basic template. Berlin has its Kommissare (police detectives) who work for the Mordkommission (homicide department), and Hamburg has its Kommissare, and so do Munich and Cologne and Leipzig and Münster and Dortmund and on and on. If you shoot a handful of episodes every year in twelve different cities for 40 years in a row, eventually you’ll end up with quite a massive project, and sure enough, as of this writing they’re zeroing in on their thousandth episode.
 

 
Tatort means “scene of the crime,” and one of the central ideas of the series is to take that word Ort (place) very seriously. All episodes use a good deal of on-location shooting, so that viewers can really see the different cities in which the shows take place. In a more general way, it’s part of the series mandate for the shows of each city to have some regional spirit—as an example, the various regional accents one encounters in the different episodes are quite noticeable.

Every episode of Tatort is 90 minutes long, without commercial interruption, and a great many of them start with the discovery of a murder victim’s body and the associated crime scene/forensic palaver with which we’re all familiar. The running length is a mixed blessing: it allows the episodes to probe deeper than comparable American shows, but it’s a bit too long for what is ultimately a formulaic exercise, and I’m not the first to notice that many episodes tend to sag around the midway point. Still: if at its worst a Tatort episode would be on the level of any forgettable Kojak, at its best the episodes attain the same general excellence of something like The Silence of the Lambs.

For those who are interested in the series, Michael Kimmelman’s astute writeup, which appeared in The New York Times in 2009 is worth a read. 

The 25th episode of Tatort aired on January 7, 1973: The episode was called Tote Taube in der Beethovenstraße (“Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street”)  The director was none other than that great American character Samuel Fuller, responsible for such masterworks as Pickup on South Street and Shock Corridor, and the music was provided by a German outfit, credited as “The Can,” that just a few months before had released its fourth album, Ege Bamyasi.
 

 
The episode is set in Bonn and Cologne, mostly. I’ve watched the episode in full, and there’s no denying that it has a certain pulpy pizzazz—Fuller does know what he’s doing—but it’s not much more than a collection of espionage tropes jammed together without too much rhyme or reason. My knowledge of German didn’t enable me to follow the plot, so you shouldn’t worry too much about understanding it, either. A major character is named Charlie Umlaut, which is a tiny bit hilarious. Apparently the plot was inspired somewhat by the Profumo affair in the UK.

In the opening sequence viewers will hear the familiar strains of Can’s hit “Vitamin C,” which was also used to strong effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Can Halen: Some genius mashed up David Lee Roth with everyone’s favorite Krautrock band
11.16.2015
08:32 am

Topics:
Music
Unorthodox

Tags:
Can
Van Halen


 
This is totally a one-note joke, but it could also be argued that Diamond Dave is a one-note singer.

YouTube user and goddamned genius Jim Haney took that Van Halen vocals-only track from “Runnin’ With the Devil” that’s been floating around the Internet for a few years and laid it over the top of an edited version of Can’s “Mother Sky.”

The result is magical.

This is the dumbest, most crucial thing you’ll hear all day:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Brian Eno’s ‘short tribute film to Can’
08.28.2015
09:33 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Brian Eno
Can


 
The treasure-trove Can DVD set from 2003 included this one-minute movie, A short tribute film to Can by Brian Eno. It’s only slightly less goofy than the gut-busting 2010 film in which Eno interviewed himself as the long-winded “Dick Flash of Pork Magazine.” At one point, as he evaluates Can’s contributions to the arts with a series of striking antitheses, Eno illustrates the true German spirit by wearing what appears to be a colander on his head.
 

 
After the jump, another treat from Can DVD

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Watch P-Orridge, Moog, Moroder, Can and many more in the electronic music documentary ‘Modulations’


 
Iara Lee’s ambitious 1998 documentary Modulations: Cinema for the Ear tries to fit the entire history of electronic music into 73 minutes. It’s a good try, and it’s worth watching for its crazy array of interview subjects, who range from Genesis P-Orridge to Karlheinz Stockhausen, and for its snapshots of 90s dance cultures around the world. From the point of view of a person who studiously avoided glowsticks and pacifiers during this historical moment, it’s interesting to look at these scenes from the remove of two decades: compared to today’s apocalypse culture, the millennium’s end-of-the-world styles seem quaint, fun, almost utopian.

Though there’s a lot of emphasis on contemporary house and techno, Modulations is a survey of the history of electronic music that takes in everything from the Futurists’ noise experiments to jungle. It keeps up a dizzying pace, and doesn’t let you look into any of these artists, movements or scenes too deeply, but what a cast: legendary producers Giorgio Moroder and Teo Macero, musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry, Robert Moog, members of Can, and John Cage are among the dozens of figures who get screen time. (Yet no Wendy Carlos?) If you want more of this stuff, there’s a CD soundtrack and a book tie-in.
 

 
via Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Can, Tangerine Dream, Amon Düül II, and so many more on ‘The German Rock Night’


 
In 2006, a six-part Rockpalast documentary on German rock music aired on German TV. It was called “Kraut und Rüben,” a title which literally means “cabbage and beets,” but is idiomatic for “higgledy-piggledy,” “topsy-turvy,” etc. If I could speak German for shit, I might be able to tell whether it was any good. It’s probably incredible—the performance footage is terrific, but unfortunately, it’s all truncated, or talked-over by interviewees. This resulted in an outpouring of viewer interest in seeing the unexpurgated performances:

After the broadcast of “Kraut und Rüben,” the Rockpalast documentary about German rock music, viewers would frequently ask when they would get to see the full-length concerts of which only short snippets had been televised. Before Rockpalast, full-length concerts were shown only in exceptional cases, but we have indeed found so many more or less complete clips that we decided to show the ten hours of footage over two evenings.

They cover the full range of the groups that were introduced in the documentary, from Scorpions to Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Eloy, Ton Steine Scherben, Can, Guru Guru, all the way to Amon Düül II. In addition some rarer clips that could not be incorporated in the doc will be shown. The majority of the material has not been seen since the original telecast. We hope that the umbrella term “Krautrock” can once and for all be buried as useless. At the same time, the two nights provide the beginning of a loose series, in which the lost treasures of German television archives could be made available again.

 

Amon Düül II


Guru Guru

So, for two consecutive Sunday nights, WDR TV aired historical performance footage of German rock bands pretty much nonstop. Plenty of important Krautrock bands are included (say what you will, Rockpalast, that term simply is not useless), and there are gems from bands purveying more standard-issue rock ’n’ roll fare. In the first night alone, there were four songs from Amon Düül II, five from Can, and a television appearance by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider’s pre-Kraftwerk band Organisation. Oh, and the Guru Guru stuff should not be missed.

What follows is only the first night. For the second, see this YouTube playlist. If you carve out enough time to make it all the way through this (and if you’re able to, I think you should, as chances seem really high that you might see something amazing of which you’ve never heard before), I’m certain you’ll get a grin out of the back-to-back juxtaposition in the third video of those binary opposites of German rock, Kraftwerk and Scorpions.
 

 
Hours of Krautrock German music after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Early footage of Can in Soest is the funkiest German thing you’ll hear all day
04.01.2014
11:22 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can

Can
 
Last week my colleague Ron Kretsch brought us some incredible footage of a Kraftwerk concert from 1970, the year they were formed. That Rockpalast performance was recorded in Soest, which is a town in the Netherlands I had never heard of before.

Now I have two reasons to remember the name. In the comments to Ron’s post, reader “Matteo” wrote, “When they gonna release the CAN concert from the same venue!?” I’m happy to report that that is exactly what has happened! Probably the release of the Kraftwerk show directly led YouTube user “vibraephased 3.0” to put up nearly 80 glorious minutes of Can at Soest from 1970, the year they released my favorite Can album, Soundtracks. Damo Suzuki had just joined the Cologne-based outfit, which had two other albums to their credit, 1969’s Monster Movie, which I don’t think that highly of, and the more rocking Delay 1968, which wasn’t officially released until 1981. Their next two albums would be Tago-Mago and Ege Bamyasi. The point I’m making is that you really couldn’t find a moment that’s more from Can’s prime.

The text in the start of the video reads, “Dieses Konzert aus dem ‘Karussell für die Jugend’ ist der früheste vollständige Konzertmitschnitt der Kölner Rockband. Der neue Sänger Damo Suzuki was erst im Mai zur Gruppe gestoßen.” What that means is “This concert from the ‘Youth Carousel,’ is the earliest full concert recording of the Cologne rock band. The new singer Damo Suzuki had joined the group in May.” I have no idea what that “Youth Carousel” thing was, a venue or a TV show? Keine Ahnung….
 
Can
 
The personnel for this concert was Holger Czukay on bass, Irmin Schmidt working the keys, Michael Karoli on guitar, Jaki Liebezeit playing the “Schlagzeug” (a.k.a. drums), and the unforgettable Damo Suzuki shouting his head off.
 
Set List:
1. Sense All Of Mine
2. Oh Yeah
3. I Feel Alright
4. Mother Sky
5. Deadlock
6. Bring Me Coffee Or Tea
7. Don’t Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone
8. Paperhouse
 

 
via WFMU

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Merry Krautrockmas: Can do ‘Silent Night,’ 1976
12.24.2013
12:49 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Krautrock
Can

image
 
No, seriously, Can recorded “Silent Night”! Not even they were immune to the siren call of a calculated yuletide ploy, I suppose, but “Silent Night”?

Just now I played this for my wife and asked “Who do you think this is?”. Without missing a beat, she said flatly “Can.”

I’m a very lucky man!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus covers Can’s krautrock classic ‘Ege Bamyasi’
10.04.2013
02:15 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Can
Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus Ege Bamyasi
 
Stephen Malkmus has loved Can’s 1972 album Ege Bamyasi for a long, long time.  In 1992, before hardly anyone knew who Malkmus was, he told Simon Reynolds in Melody Maker, “All that German music is really important to us. . . . I played Can’s Ege Bamyasi album every night before I went to sleep for about three years.”

Last year was the 40th anniversary of the album’s release, so late last year Malkmus visited Week-End Fest in Can’s home town, Cologne, Germany, and covered the full album, backed by Cologne band Von Spar.

The album was relesed in a vinyl limited edition for Record Store Day. The charming cover was designed by David Shrigley.

About halfway through this video, Malkmus tackles a couple of questions about covering the album before being adorably attacked by his own daughter.

 
Here’s Malkmus doing Can’s “One More Night”:

 
Here’s his “Pinch” and “Soup”:

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Choose your own adventure as Can’s Damo Suzuki

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Turtles Have Short Legs’: Can’s idea of a Krautrock novelty song?
08.29.2013
03:15 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can


 
Can’s decidedly loopy, in every sense of the word, 1971 single, “Turtles Have Short Legs,” finds the Krautrock titans in a decidedly playful mood. As Rooksby suggests at the I Love Total Destruction blog, it almost sounds as if they were deliberately trying to come up with a novelty hit:

Despite Can ascending to near deity status over the course of the last decade, it’s surprising how few people know about this uncharacteristically daft 7”. Recorded during the Tago Mago sessions & released on Liberty in 1971, it’s sufficiently odd to suggest that both band & label realized Can’s only opportunity for blagging a little chart action would be via the “weird” novelty hit route. “Turtles Have Short Legs"could, I guess, be ranked alongside similarly peculiar early 70s smashes like “Mouldy Old Dough” & “Popcorn” though, typically, Can’s effort failed to chart anywhere.

Writing at Julian Cope’s sprawling Head Heritage website, Seth the Man further informs us that…

This was Can’s third single, issued at the time of release of their colossal double LP, Tago Mago. Its A-side, “Turtles Have Short Legs” was unavailable on album until it appeared years later on the Cannibalism 2 compilation. It’s unlike any Damo-era Can piece ever, appropriating an absurd Teutonic toy town piano phrase that winds up subverting it in waves into a slow, untrammeled monster. There are no lyrics although Damo IS singing—but even then the most discernible lines are easily misheard. And those that aren’t are vamped ridiculously by Damo into exaggerated Japanese-accented English, transposing his ‘L’s and ‘R’s as though to put on his detractors, A return lyric comes on like a punch line, as repeats of (I think) “Oh, we can pile it on!” ensue over the buoyantly together group bash out/playtime vibe. But for all its joviality, this confounding track manages to gradually turn over in its sleep into a dense thicket of instruments galloping at a loping pace. All other instruments fall away at two separate clearings with only Damo and the drums to continue alone unfettered only to wind up as a succession of drum rolls and barking vocal pronouncements. Once back into the full ensemble fray, Holger Czukay starts pumping up with his space-filled Jaguar bass lines, and Damo throws in a line about “a cigalette (sic)/Not for the toking.” The guitar-dominated coda, sees Michael Karoli playing around the edges of all the unpeeled paint upon the walls of Schloss Norvenich with extra sensory mojo and feeling at top volume as circling drums just continue pressing onward and upwards; drummer Jaki Liebezeit soon hitting his cymbals not with sticks but carefully aimed and stamina-directed tree trunks, beating the piece to rest.

The above description reads like rock snob poetry to me!

And there’s a promo video for it, too? Apparently so. I’m a pretty big Can fan, but admittedly I was unaware that a promotional film for “Turtles Have Short Legs” existed (although it makes sense that it would since it was a single). From the editing style, it would appear to be authentically vintage, although I can’t say for sure. What’s of interest in this footage is that you get to see two of Can’s inner sanctums—like The Clash, Faust, Gong, etc, these guys always had a clubhouse—their set-up in the Cologne castle and the converted movie theater in Weilerswist that they moved into in late 1971. That location you can tell from the mattresses soundproofing the walls.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Origins of Krautrock: ‘Kamera Song’ by The Inner Space (future members of Can), 1968
02.11.2013
12:59 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Krautrock
Can


 
A few months or so prior to American vocalist Malcolm Mooney joining them, in 1968, the core members of Can (Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit) and flutist David Johnson, under the name The Inner Space, recorded some songs and audio cues for a low budget German political satire titled Agilok & Blubbo. Directed by Peter F. Schneider and starring counterculture feminist icon/groupie Rosemarie Heinikel (aka Rosy Rosy), it would be the first time “experimental” music would be used for the soundtrack to a German film.

Rosy Rosy would go on to sing with Guru Guru, produce radio and children’s programming and write her autobiography (which included details of her trysts with Donovan and Frank Zappa). In 2009, the complete music for Agilok & Blubbo was released by Wah Wah Records.

“Kamera Song” (vocals by Rosy Rosy):
 

 
“Flop Pop”:
 

 
The ten-minute-long proto-krautrock workout of “Apokalypse”:
 

 
Another early Can soundtrack rarity, from the 1968 film Kama Sutra. The band, still billed as The Inner Space (but with Malcolm Mooney at this point and still with David Johnson) back vocalist Margareta Juvan, performing “I’m Hiding My Nightingale” as a band in a nightclub, before they start their own “Man Called Joe” number (from Delay 1968) at the clip’s end.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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