Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Great Albums: 45 - Delay: 1968 (Can, 1981)

OK, so it's a complilation album, really, and of outtakes at that.  But those lovely fellas at WasistDas asked me to have a think about this album for a project of theirs and, you know what - it's my favourite Can LP.

Yeah, it's Malcolm Mooney, not Damo Suzuki, and the dynamic is totally different.  Originally intended to be their first album (aparently to be named 'Prepared to Meet Thy PNOOM') and rejected by the shower of clueless clowns who evidently ran music at the time, it languishe din the doldrums of bootleg land for over a decade before been issued in 1981, on the back of Can achieving a degree of mainstream success.

It's an odd, fractured sort of album, and a diffuclt one to pin down.  At this point in time, Can sound like a proper rock band, albeit a messed up and disjointed one.  Touchstones for the sound of Mooney-era Can aren't the usual fellow travellers, NEU!, Tangerine Dream and Faust, but US freakout bands like the Red Krayola.  Mooney can't sing in a totally different way from the way in which Suzuki can't sing, but  it's a strangely hypnotic failure all the same.  Lines repeat over and over again (famously, Mooney is supposed, in his last Can gig, to have reated the same two words over and over again for three hours, before collapsing), Mooney yelps, screams and whines over the top of some great soundscapes (the rest of the band are as good as they were when amazing everyone on Ege Bamyasi et al) and amongst the freakishness genius tentatively pokes out its head.

(Dying) 'Butterfly', 'Nineteen Century Man" and 'Little Star of Bethlehem' in particular are as close to actual 'songs' as Can ever got, ever, but every track - even the very short Pnoom - are worth a listen, if only to hear Mooney's paranoid, druggy mutterings combine with the sound of the US psych scene, all wrapped up in Teutonic drive.

Mooney didn't last long, incidentally - he's on one proper album, Monster Movie plus the reunion Rite Time, this LP and a chunk of the recently released Lost Tapes and that's it.  He left the band in 1970 on mental health grounds and seems to be in good health now, recording as recently as 2006 and working on his art, unlike other casualties of the time.  Best of luck to him, I say, and thanks for this.

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