INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Electronic Sound JUNE 2017 - by Carl Griffin
CAN: THE SINGLES
First-time compendium of Can's seven-inch wonders barely misses a beat
Seems incredible really, that such a fawned-over and forensically-dissected act have never had all of their single releases brought together in one place before. Particularly when you consider that since 2012's The Lost Tapes new life seems to have been injected into the hunt for forgotten gems in the trove of Cologne's finest.
Their immutable status among music's avant-garde elite certainly requires little further expounding. Melody Maker did, after all, nail it back in 1972 when they called them "without doubt the most talented and consistent experimental rock band in Europe, England included". The fresh insight this wonderful collection gives us into the breadth of their sound and vision is invaluable, especially to an audience beyond the completists.
Take Turtles Have Short Legs. A rare 1971 release (B-sided by Halleluwah, which Happy Mondays pretty much covered) recorded around the time of the Tago Mago sessions, it's a total corker, and an encapsulation of Can's rangey, category-defying essence. It's also a daft, joyous stoner anthem that reminds you of the magical alchemy that resulted when the classic line-up comprising Czukay, Liebezeit, Karoli, Schmidt and Suzuki put playfulness first.
Epithets such as "pioneering", "influential" and "ahead of their time" will of course always abound when talk is of Can, and there are plenty of examples here. See 1972's I'm So Green, surely the foundation for Stone Roses' Fools Gold. But the biggies are all here too, and everyone has their favourite. From the irresistible motorik disco of 1976's Top 10 smash I Want More, to the essential, skittering wonder of Vitamin C, it's all anchored by the astonishing percussive genius of the late Jaki Liebezeit. In the words of Faust's Jochen Irmler, who I interviewed for this magazine in 2014, Liebezeit was "one of the greatest musicians I ever met, his mind open to everything - to every facet of percussion across the musical spectrum, right across the world".
And it's that genuine eclecticism that defines Can too. Their astonishing ability to have never given a fig for neither fashion, genre nor zeitgeist, and yet somehow becoming a conduit for all that and so very much more very much lives on through this excellent collection.