Album review: Can

Can - Live In Brighton (Spoon/Mute)

BY 1975, Can still had gas in the tank, but their best years were already appearing in the rear view mirror. Proof of both can be found in this live set from that year.

There are no songs from any of Can’s albums from Monster Movie to Landed (rowdy audience members requests for any are completely ignored by the band ), and instead, what is performed are 10 improvised pieces. The best is arguably ‘Zwei’ which plays around with themes from Can’s masterpiece, Tago Mago, particularly ‘Mushroom’, giving listeners something familiar to latch onto, without compromising Can’s determined exploratory tendencies.

Above all, this is guitarist Michael Karoli’s album. Ultimately it is his guitar solos which make this worth listening to - long lines of soulful, often beautiful, and well judged runs across the fretboard, walking a brilliant fine line between the melodic and the free form (and with more Hendrix influence than was often apparent in his studio work ).

Often it feels as if the other members are merely his backing band - although Jacki Liebezeit makes his presence felt with some striking, and characteristic, jazz/soul fusion drumming.

As with all but a handful of live albums, this is very much for die-hards only, and its improvisational nature means it is best experienced in small chunks at a time.

 

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