[One-Off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two’ (Beyond Can, 1977-1984)


Following the mix of later-era Can from a few days ago, this new collection of post- and extra-Can tracks, ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two‘ should be perhaps an even bigger surprise for those who’ve bought the hype that Can was all downhill after ‘Future Days’.  Putting together this collection, it even surprised me just how great the boys of Can continued to be after the “split” in 1979–if anything, this period was even more fertile than ’74-’79.  They might not have been years ahead of their time as they were with ‘Tago Mago‘ or ‘Future Days,’ but they were very definitely right in the thick of the zeitgeist of the day, mixing up a glorious “post-punk”-ish blend of reggae, funk, electronics, musique concrete, post-Krautrock, Afrobeat, and dub, with occasional pop melodic flourishes.  This collection covers both “solo” projects by various members (which always included other members of Can) and collaborative efforts with luminaries and lesser-knowns of the post-punk and dance worlds.  Given the breadth of years and the number of releases (17) and the vast number of participants, there is a remarkable cohesiveness in the diversity, proving that even after a “breakup” Can continued in spirit for quite a while.  This set is especially illuminates the fact that whatever Can were in the early days–art-rock, proto-punk, prog rock, Krautrock–is very much part of a strong progression of music through the 70s (reaching out laterally to funk and even sound library music) directly to the very best of post-punk, the latter’s name notwithstanding.  If you find yourself thinking of Talking Heads, The Slits, Arthur Russell, The Pop Group, Pere Ubu, Public Image Limited, This Heat, Family Fodder, Flying Lizards, Antena, Trio, Raincoats and the Tom Tom Club–along with Lee Perry, KPM library records, Brian Eno, Nonesuch’s ‘Explorer Series,’ King Tubby, et al–it’s surely no accident.

The collection begins in the 70s reaching back to Neu!, with Jaki Liebezeit playing the role of Klaus Dinger with aplomb alongside the real Michael Rother and Conny Plank (the latter of whom, along with Inner Space Studios, remains ever present through this set).  Next Holger Czukay demonstrates both the “Turtles Have Short Legs” humor of Can, as well as his Stockhausen-trained musique concrete roots, all set to an easy disco groove provided by Liebezeit and frequent late-era Can collaborator Rebop Baah; it ends up sounding like a silly counterpart to Eno & Byrne‘s ‘Bush of Ghosts,’ a disco-era update of Bernard Parmegiani‘s “Pop’eclectic” or Francois Bayle‘s “Solitude”.  His second solo track here (also featured in the ‘1981‘ set)  proves balding Germans with goofy mustaches can be sexy.  In ’81 Czukay and Liebezeit helped launch Annie Lennox and Phew in style with fantastic bouncing rhythms and brass instrumentation; and Czukay also found time to Goth it up in a one-off with Conny Plank as Les Vampyrettes, who provide a horror-movie soundtrack to match the Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” or The Normal‘s “Warm Leatherette”.  Irmin Schmidt largely exited the pop music world, focusing on soundtrack and experimental work, which his track here with Bruno Spoerri captures well, reminiscent perhaps of Ryuichi Sakamoto.  His other appearance here is nearly a full Can reunion, with Liebezeit, Karoli and Rosko Gee, taking a Meters-like New Orleans-funk feeling into outer space.  Both Liebezeit and Damo Suzuki show up–from different years–with minimal Afro-funk German group Dunkelziffer.

Jaki Liebezeit is unsurprisingly the core of Can even after Can, appearing on nearly every track here.  His excellent Phantom Band is represented as it evolved over four years, starting as a polyrhythmic troupe that I think Hamilton Bohannon would’ve dug (with vocals from Rosko Gee, late-Can member).  By 1981 Phantom evolves into a trippier post-punk dub outfit, and finally by 1984 a pop group that calls to mind Talking Heads or the Urban Verbs.  Liebezeit also helped out with Gabi Delgado-Lopez‘s transition from S&M DNW industrialism with Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft into Mediterranean New Pop territory more befitting his native Spain.  Jah Wobble is here in multiple instances bringing the woozy low-end that Public Image Ltd. lost.  He joins up with Czukay for probably the most surprising moment here–a NYC-style no disco synth workout that would have fit right in on Larry Levan‘s decks, with guitar from The Edge (yes, of U2) and produced/programmed by proto-house legend Francois Kevorkian.  While he was apparently less prolific than others in his post-Can output, Michael Karoli rounds things out (with the aid of Liebezeit) on two beautiful tracks from ’84 that would fit in right beside the “Earthbeat” phase of The Slits or the Raincoats‘ underloved ‘Moving’ LP, with Polly Eltes (who sang on Eno‘s ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’).  I won’t claim all this music will be a guaranteed hit all at once (though if you read all this, odds are good); but there’s a goldmine in this music.  Sadly, much of it is currently long out-of-print; but I ask that you support the artists by buying what is available. Full tracklist and the download link (with individual mp3s and relevant cover art) is after the “more” link.

Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two’
(Beyond Can, 1977-1984)

01  Michael Rother (with Liebezeit & Plank) – “Karussell” (Edit) – [‘Flammende Herzen,’ 1977] (3:22)
02  Michael Rother (with Liebezeit & Plank) – “Zeni” (Edit) – [‘Flammende Herzen,’ 1977] (3:38)
03  Czukay (with Liebezeit & Rebop Baah) – Cool in the Pool” – [‘Movies,’ 1979] (5:03)
04  Phantom Band (with Liebezeit) – “Without Desire” – [‘Phantom Band,’ 1980] (2:38)
05  Phantom Band (with Liebezeit & Rosko Gee) – “You Inspired Me” – [‘Phantom Band,’ 1980] (4:00)
06  Eurythmics (with Liebezeit) – “Take Me To Your Heart” – [‘In The Garden,’ 1981] (3:35)
07  Eurythmics (with Czukay & Liebezeit) – “Never Gonna Cry Again” – [‘In The Garden,’ 1981] (3:05)
08  Les Vampyrettes (Czukay & Plank) – “Biomutanten” (Edit) – [‘Biomutanten‘ EP, 1981] (3:32)
09  Phantom Band (with Liebezeit) – “Experiments” – [‘Freedom of Speech,’ 1981] (3:34)
10  Liebezeit, Czukay & Jah Wobble – Trench Warfare” – [‘How Much Are They?‘ EP, 1981] (4:50)
11  Czukay (with Liebezeit) – “Fragrance” – [‘On the Way to the Peak of Normal,’ 1981] (4:13)
12  Phew (with Liebezeit & Czukay) – “Fragment” – [‘Phew,’ 1981] (3:59)
13  Schmidt (with Bruno Spoerri) – “Toy Planet” – [‘Toy Planet,’ 1981] (3:04)
14  Schmidt (with Liebezeit, Karoli & Gee) – “Endstation Freiheit” – [‘Filmmuzik Vol. 2,’ 1981] (3:37)
15  Dunkelziffer (with Liebezeit) – “Strom” (Edit) – [‘Stil Der Neuen Zeit’ EP, 1982] (3:03)
16  Czukay, Jah Wobble, The Edge & Francois Kevorkian – “Snake Charmer” – [‘Snake Charmer’ EP, 1983] (4:07)
17  Gabi Delgado (with Liebezeit) – “Victim” – [‘Mistress,’ 1983] (3:30)
18  Phantom Band (with Liebezeit) – “The Party” – [‘Nowhere,’ 1984] (1:31)
19  Phantom Band (with Liebezeit) – “Loading Zone” – [‘Nowhere,’ 1984] (3:50)
20  Dunkelziffer (with Suzuki) – “Watch On My Head” – [‘In The Night,’ 1984] (2:52)
21  Karoli & Polly Eltes (with Liebezeit) – “Yours & Mine” – [‘Deluge,’ 1984] (4:28)
22  Karoli & Polly Eltes – “Watch On My Head” (Edit) – [‘Deluge,’ 1984] (3:47)

[Total Time: 78:37]

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6 thoughts on “[One-Off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two’ (Beyond Can, 1977-1984)

  1. Pingback: Musicophilia
  2. Just discovered this mix and I am enjoying it, thanks! I wonder where you stand with Henry Cow a band I am more familiar with than Can. I hear strains here that remind me a bit of Cow and Art Bears. Are you a fan of these bands as well?

  3. Hi Jim–

    Not a huge Henry Cow or Art Bears fan, though I like patches of both. My favorite thing Fred Frith has done is Material, who have a leaner, tougher sound. Saw him live with Zena Perkins and they were fantastic. I’m betting you’re a fan of This Heat? You might enjoy the “Brain” mix from the 1981 series. . .

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