Can – The Singles: Experimental Indie Music Perfection

Can - The Singles
The shingles?

Okay, so earlier in the year we were banging on about Can with the band’s fantastic experimental albums from the early 1970s: Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days. Whilst considered avant-garde, the band was free from pretentious guff and perfectly capable of composing funky, fun, and user-friendly hit singles. Released in June 2017, then, is this fabulous collection of the band’s singles. Hurray!

Now, sadly, two of Can’s founders died this year in the form of genius drummer Jaki Liebezeit and bassist Holger Czukay. Guitarist Michael Karoli also passed away back in 2001. Regardless, releases like this help their immense legacy live on and this album, which compiles their very best short songs, is a super place to start if you want to get into one of the best bands in the history of ever, so here’s a small selection as a taster.

Shikako Maru Ten

One of our favourites, this little ditty mixes singer Suzuki’s Eastern influence with the rest of the band’s general sense of fun and funk. It’s short, it’s cool, and it’s the type of thing you could stick on a 30 hour loop and not get bored off. One for dinner parties when the After Eight mints are rolled out.

Turtles Have Short Legs

Arguably the band’s most upbeat song, this bouncy ditty is propelled by Liebezeit’s drumming, but there’s a searing moment of genius from Karoli at 2:30 when his guitar solo builds to a crescendo. Awesome – one to listen to when you’re feeling a bit gloomy, even if it is a bit sexist against turtles.

Dizzy Dizzy

Singing here is guitarist Michael Karoli, as Suzuki had just left the band (you may be inclined to think it’s actually Suzuki, at first – non). Edited from the much longer Soon Over Babaluma (1974) album, it’s another example of the band on fun form with the playful, mysterious violin at work throughout.

The band specialised in moments of reflection after a key section of a song (Vitamin C being another fine example), so you have the glorious section at 1:30 onwards when everyone is in repose and contemplating their next moves. And, no, I don’t smoke with the angles I know.

Future Days

Although this song is best listened to in its seven-minute entirety, in what is very possibly Can’s finest moment, it makes for a nifty little single as well, although, really, just buy Future Days and listen to the whole bloody thing. You owe yourself that much.

Halleluwah

A sprawling 18 minute epic from Tago Mago, at the heart of this incredible song is Liebezeit’s remarkable drumming (he was renowned for his otherworldly metronomic abilities – the band joked he was more machine than human), but also a funky moment of electronic funk.

Spoon

We had to round off with one of the groovy numbers off Ege Bamasi and Spoon’s blend of electronic psychedelia is a harmonic and ever so charming piece of music. We can’t get bored of this one, Bob.

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