Yes They Can

Posted in Audio transmissions, Dancing about architecture on May 6th, 2010 by bill
Can rehearsing for their version of "West Side Story"

I love the fact that there are still these huge untapped veins of great music out there. For instance, until relatively recently I never listened to the strange and wonderful German band Can. They are a truly unique group, arty/experimental/difficult on the one hand, but with a strong rhythmic underpinning and a fondness for reggae, dub, and even funk. (Yes, Germans can be funky—see also “Kraftwerk.” People forget that funk requires precision: Everything must be exactly on the beat, or it is not funky. There were no accidents, for instance, in James Brown’s music; James understood exactly where every note belonged, and if someone made a mistake, he knew it.)

Can’s music is truly experimental, i.e. not especially well edited, so you have to wade through the failed experiments to get to the good stuff. An additional complicating factor is the vocals. Can’s first “singer” was Malcolm Mooney, about as atonal a vocalist as you’re likely to find fronting a major rock band. Mooney sometimes sounds like an inebriated street person intoning chants the meaning of which are known only to himself; and yet for all that, his singing is not without a strange charm, and he delivers an utterly flabbergasting performance on the psycho-loungy “She Brings the Rain.” According to Can scholar (and former Cramps/Bad Seeds drummer) Jim Sclavunos,
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