Can – Opener (1976)
This one follows on from my last post about Kraftwerk and cheap artist anthologies which once served a very specific, if unintended purpose, for cash-strapped vinyl fiends.
After Kraftwerk, and unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool prog fan or just a bit weird and somehow got to Tangerine Dream or Faust first, Can is usually the second stop on any journey of kosmische discovery. Whether it’s the early, vaguely Velvets-ish garage rock mantras with Malcolm Mooney or the spacey, groove-laden and proto-ambient (and much more) stylings employed with Damo Suzuki, Cologne’s castle-dwelling misfits really do have something for everyone.
Of course, at the time I bought this, I was mainly after one thing. I must have picked it up some time in the nineties before the glut of Can reissues appeared, and having never seen any of their albums for anything approaching an affordable price, I was understandably excited seeing this compilation relatively cheap. I pulled it out of the rack in that covetous and over-eager manner one has when stumbling upon their personal equivalent of treasure, barely stopping to acknowledge the great/terrible punning title and pop art-referencing image as I flipped it over to see the tracklist. I may have even let out an audible and embarrassing “Yes!” as I discovered it contained ‘Vitamin C’, probably the funkiest of all Can tracks, the one you could play in a DJ set and people would say “What the fuck is this?” in the best way.
Like Elektro Kinetik, this LP brings together a selection of tracks from a short period in a band’s long life and again covers material from three albums*. Unlike the Kraftwerk collection though, this focusses on Can’s mid period/the closing of their golden years, with four tracks from the masterpiece Ege Bamyasi, two apiece from Future Days and the band’s first post-Damo and last great album Soon Over Babaluma. The gypsy-reggae-funk grooves of ‘Dizzy Dizzy’ and ‘Come Sta, La Luna’ make them the most accessible moments from the latter, and combined with the proto-baggy-but-much-better-than-that ‘I’m So Green’ and ending with the floaty come down of ‘Future Days’ help to make up a consistent collection that, despite the odd assertion in the liner notes that Can are “still the most unsettling of all the German Groups”, could well have been called Can’s Big Party Hits Album. And we’ve all got drunk and sang along to Damo’s divine pidgin English chorus from ‘Spoon’ at some point, haven’t we? Well, perhaps we should.
“Doooon’t sit up-on the cha-ir when nobody wants to care!”
*Perhaps bizarrely, this comp has recently been reissued on vinyl in its own right.