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11 October 2010

The Can - 'Soundtracks' (Liberty)

The baton is passed from Mooney to Suzuki, though it's not sequenced this way. The back cover of this even indicates that this is "the second album of THE CAN, but not album no. two". So we're to view this as a stopgap collection, not an album proper but something to document the soundtrack work during this transitional time (1969/1970). You can hear the baton being passed most beautifully at the end of side one, though sequencing actually places Damo's underrated 'Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone' before Mooney's last gasp 'Soul Desert'. I'd have preferred the two sides of Soundtracks to be played backwards, because then you open the record with 'Mother Sky' and close with 'Soul Desert'. Which makes more sense, cause a) 'Mother Sky' is one of the greatest tracks in the history of rock music, a powerful tour de force that grows in stature with every play, so why not have it as a leadoff? and b) Mooney sounds at his most deranged, his most spent, as he hurtles through 'Soul Desert'. So a more grandiose entrance, and a more dignified farewell. Now I don't care much for the two 'Deadlock's or 'She Brings the Rain', and 'Tango Whisyman' is good but forgettable, so we're left with a strong EP and some padding. But when you have 'Mother Sky', with it's thunder and lightning and icicles and car crashes and momentum galore, why do you need to worry about anything else? We hear this track being approached like a dub track, showing Czukay's greater interest in studio fuckery. And the back cover photo shows an earnest young Holger, set much closer to the camera than anyone else, holding some wooden traditional thing that appears to be emitting a microphone for young shirtless Damo to croon through. Another reason for my side-b-should-be-side-a theory -- then, 'Mother Sky' would also be Damo's introduction to the world, and it's a hell of an entrance, much more so than 'Deadlock'! This is a dirty old Liberty record pressing that's creaking with surface noise, but it's not actually a bad way to listen to it. Also notable: Irwin Schmidt is holding a banjo in this photo, but I don't hear any (nor is he credited as such). 'Album no. two will be released in the beginning of 1971', and you know what that one is, right?

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