Can – Vitamin C

• “Vitamin C” set to a later soundtrack album cover. Thanks to Mute.

8.6 “Excellent Trance Rock from Germany”

From their fourth album “Ege Bamyasi” (United Artists Records UAS 29 414 I) released in 1972.

At the end of 1971, Can relocated their studio to a nearby village, renting an old cinema which was now out-of-use. This would now serve as a part-working, part-living space. The walls were naturally sound-proofed by 1,500 military mattresses! Said Holger Czukay:

We could achieve an excellent dry and ambient sound in there and the interior submitted a cosy landscape feeling with all possibilities of spontaneous recordings. EGE BAMYASI was the first album made in this new environment and reflects the group being in a lighter mood than it was in Schloss Nvrvenich”.

Continuing where “Tago Mago” left-off, the album opens densely with “Pinch”, a masterclass in progressive-funk – it now seems clear that the desire to trance-out and the rhythmic intensity are the only traits which will remain from the aggressive rockers of ’69. “Sing Swan Song”, a slow-paced synth-heavy ballad pushes the group in a New Wave direction, a feeling which is furthered with the futuristic-sounding “One More Night”, a 5-minute robotic rumble, with the group and their mumbling vocalist coalescing as one atmospheric whole.

Vitamin C” opens side 2 and finds the quintet in upbeat funk-pop mode, with cracking bendy bass lines, and drums which force a forward-march out of all players. Damo’s vocals are in line with the outward-looking track; clearer than ever he repeats the phrase “Hey you! You’re losing your Vitamin C”.

The accessibility of the LP is put to the test on the 10-minute avant-garde freak-out “Soup”, which wanders into all sorts of proggy territories, alternating between funk, jazz, noise and minimalism, with a suitably dramatic Damo completely wired. He has a sixth sense for Can sound in all its weird and wonderful forms. The upbeat “I’m So Green” once again finds the group jangling with that funky futurism thing, by now perfected. Completing what seems to have been a food-themed side 2 to go with the album cover, “Spoon” finishes the set off, and, in accordance with the pioneering feel of the whole album, introduces a drum machine alongside the super-human Jaki Liebezeit, surely a man beyond machine. The contrast sounds wonderful, especially in 1972 terms. By the time of Ege Bamyasi’s release, this was a well-known song to virtually all Germans. It had been the signature theme of the popular German television thriller “Das Messer” and 30 million people would regularly hear this when they switched their TV on; it came as no surprise when the single went Top 10 in their homeland, shifting in excess of 300,000 copies.

I do love to hear a well-deserved success story.

You can check out the rest of my album reviews for 1972 here.

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