Can “Delay 1968”
Along with a handful of tracks featured on Unlimited Edition, Delay represents some of Can’s earliest recordings from 1968 when the band’s lead singer was sculptor Malcom Mooney. According to legend these tracks were supposed to form the backbone of a Can debut album which was tentatively titled Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom. It never happened but thankfully these prehistoric gems were rescued from the vaults and officially released in 1981 – well after the group’s prime.
The Mooney era tends to be forgotten by most casual fans but I think Monster Movie is just as good as any of the Damo Suzuki era classics. Delay is less polished than Monster Movie but also a really swell garage avante-garde psychedelic album. Some of their early works even have strands of distorted R&B – listen closely and you can hear this. Early Can looked to the Velvet Underground for their primary influence, especially the feedback laden monster that was 1968’s White Light/White Heat. Free Jazz was also a vital reference point as heard on the brief 26 second PNOOM and the deranged Man Named Joe. So if experimental German rock is your bag, these recordings are an absolute must, something that enriches the legacy of this most illustrious band. I’ve never heard anything like Uphill. It churns and twists violently while Malcom Mooney nervously spits out lyrics as if someone’s breathing fire into his ass. There’s a nice thick, stinging guitar solo midway thru and the group locks into one nasty groove that’s really hard to beat. Check out the lyrics too, Mooney rants away and goes on a memorable lyrical journey in which he mentions “hot rods” and a certain “velvet touch,” this is classic 60s rock at its finest. Butterfly hits the same kind of emotional nerves and is just as good but sounds very mechanical and frost bitten. Another killer is Thief, a track that Radio Head regularly plays in their live set and possibly Can’s greatest stab of pure psychedelia – space trance with fabulous melting fuzz guitars and tribal rhythms. These performances are loaded with high energy, aggression and experimentation – this music was meant to be played loud.
Back in the 60s and early 70s Can used to blow people’s minds on a regular basis. When I hear records like Delay, Monster Movie, Future Days and Tago Mago I can understand why. Can outtakes and aborted albums are better than most band’s best material. Delay is very worthy stuff.