February 21st, 2017
(Photo found here.)
Last month Sound Opinions did a show which featured Krautrock, the German experimental rock genre that blended psychedelic music with minimalism, some jazz, and more. The musicians who developed it were the first generation of Germans to come of age after World War II and they were determined to come up with style all their own. They did so, developing one that largely eschewed the blues-rooted pop music of the time in favor of Stockhausen and the avant garde.
Though miles away from the symphonic progressive rock that fell in love with as a kid, Krautrock broadly falls under the prog banner. Or, if you prefer to keep the two separate, the genre is one also beloved by many prog fans. And so it was inevitable that I’d find my way into it at some point.
Sound Opinions’ hosts, Greg Kot and Jim Derogatis, gave a nice overview of Krautrock in their show. However, the program’s format only allowed for a fairly broad examination but not much depth. I found that I already knew some of what they said but a lot of the info was brand new to me.
I finally delved into Krautrock in the mid-90s when I bought a copy of Can’s Cannibalism, a compilation album covering 1969-1974. Honestly, I don’t know why I chose to dip my toe into the Teutonic waters via Can versus Faust or Neu! or any of the other Krautrock bands. Lo these many years later I am by no means well-versed in the genre. I’ve still got a lot of listening to do.
Of all the K-rock bands, I know Can the best. (Not that I know them well.) I love Faust’s manic pseudo-pop “It’s a Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)” featuring a beat that just won’t quit. And then there’s Neu!’s “Hallogallo” with its steady drive that feels like cruising down the Autobahn with the windows down. Can, on the other hand, was darker and more akin to joining Willard on his venture up the Nung River. Despite Jaki Liebezeit’s precision drumming, a lot of Can’s songs still flowed freely, as if they could fall apart at any moment.
Just a few days before the Sound Opinions show aired Can’s drummer Jaki Liebezeit passed away at age 78. So it seemed like a good time to post a show featuring him behind the drum kit.
This performance took place at the Waldbühne in Berlin on 22 May 1972. By this time Damo Suzuki had replaced Malcolm Mooney on vocals. (I simply adore Can’s debut Monster Movie with Mooney.) Tago Mago, probably their most popular album, if a Can album can be called popular, had come out the year before while their next one, Ege Bamyasi was still months away from being released.
Improv > Vitamin C
Bring Me Coffee or Tea
Here’s a nice video from YouTube of most, if not all, of a Can show from 3 February 1972 in Cologne. For more info on this incredible gig, check out this post from Dangerous Minds.