Live in Paris 1973 by CAN

Release date: February 23, 2024
Label: Mute Records

CAN will be remembered as one of the great 20th century bands”. Julian Cope’s quote that closes the sixth chapter from his 1995 book, Krautrocksampler says it all. Their legacy is still going strong, and continuing to inspire the next generation of young people who are discovering their music for the first time. Like me for example, who got into their music thanks to the ProgArchives website and the Rhino Out-Of-Print 5-CD box set originally released in 1996 entitled, Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era.

Listening to their music is very much like looking through a wall of hallway mirrors reflecting the insanity, the madness, the weird sounds, and the avant-garde shriek that’ll make you want to shit your pants like crazy! Continuing on with the live archives that launched back in 2021 with Stuttgart, followed by Brighton and Cuxhaven, it contained the post-Suzuki era from Soon Over Babaluma, Landed, and Flow Motion periods.

The new year is starting off with a big bang as we delve into the Damo years with this live recording from Paris at the time the band were promoting their fourth studio album, Future Days.

Recorded on May 12, 1973 at the L’Olympia, this was a crucial point for the band as Damo steals the show with his insane vocalisations. It’s also one of his final gigs before leaving the band to take a long hiatus from the music scene before returning 10 years later which would later be known as Damo Suzuki’s Network.

The Paris recording which had been bootlegged before, is an off-the-wall chaotic sound with a large, massive full-scale assault. When I was listening to this live recording, I was on the edge of my seat as CAN tackle some of the songs from their previous album Ege Bamyasi released a year earlier in November of 1972.

From the killer-funk rock composition of ‘One More Night’ which features Schmidt, Liebezeit, Czukay, and Karoli doing this laid-back jam, but with Suzuki created this scat-like chant to give the rhythm section a chance to let it all out. But then, the audience starts to clap along to Schmidt’s Morse code-like effect before Damo hypnotises the Olympia by singing a killer take of ‘Spoon’ with Karoli’s guitar that transforms itself into a pre-post punk approach of Bowie’s Station to Station years.

I can imagine David not only admired NEU and Kraftwerk, but probably CAN was a big influence on him also. Why do you think that Pete Shelley, Magazine, PiL, Cope, and The Mars Volta were big admirers of the band’s music? It wasn’t just the sound, it was the brutality and right in your face momentum that proved that this wasn’t your slicky-nu metal horse shit music, but sheer anarchy in all of its glory.

 

Schmidt is playing nonstop on his keyboards to make the trans-europa express go in full speed. He plays very much like a jazz musician, taking his fingers to various location in the district before Czukay and Karoli add enough coal to make it sound, dare I say early Deep Purple-era before travelling into Gottsching’s territory? That’s the biggest stretch.

And it works! The 36-minute psychedelic funk of ‘Eins (Whole People Queueing)’ which starts the live album, takes you into the heart of Egypt in the hottest part of the day as temperature levels go up to 110 degrees in Fahrenheit. There’s some train-chugging arrangements Liebezeit does on his drum patterns. He’s almost a train conductor, making the train going into this rapid-speed before he slows down the beat to give Karoli, Czukay, and Schmidt some ideas by going into the groove with these hypnotic wah-wah patterns Michael envisions.

You can hear some of the elements of Future Days in the atmosphere at the Olympia where Suzuki not only sings, but does some spoken chants to give audiences a night they’ll never forget. I always imagine the 36-minute jam as a score to the Fleischer animated short from 1936 entitled Play Safe.

You feel the presence of the little boy’s nightmare, knowing the danger of riding in a train not only is a big job, but not safe for him as CAN takes the music into a runaway pattern before Karoli makes his guitar into a chugging riff while Schmidt plays some Traffic-like beats which speaks of The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, conducted by Stockhausen in all of its glory.

As I’ve mentioned before, going through the 1973 recording of their performance in Paris, is a roller-coaster ride into the unknown. You never know what CAN will think of next. And this is the next logical step that is waiting for you to see and hear what is going on in the archives of the band’s legacy. I hope they continue to dig through of the live recordings for not only Suzuki, but also Malcolm Mooney who plays a big part in the band’s music.

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