Can

Mother Sky

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This bootleg offers fascinating live tracks from Can at the height of the band's career, recorded in Berlin in June 1971, about the time that the masterpiece Tago Mago was hitting the shelves of record stores. Mother Sky finds the group improvising with incredible energy and creativity, at times veering into sheer noise as vocalist Damo Suzuki screams possessed while everyone else pounds away at maximum volume, at other moments creating ambient collages of sound. Clocking in at almost 20 minutes, "Stand So High," a track not on any of their studio albums, begins slowly but soon picks up speed, as the group improvises fluidly without losing its propulsive rhythm. The piece moves through different phases, and soon becomes driven by Irmin Schmidt's rapid-fire piano chords rolling up and down the scales. The even longer "Bring Me Tea or Coffee" follows, and while one might think this was a version of Tago Mago's "Bring Me Coffee or Tea," it's something completely different, another long, flowing improvisation with Suzuki gibbering insanely and some driving guitar stuff. To add to the confusion, "I Don't Care" actually does offer the riffs and rhythms of the above-mentioned Tago Mago track, though with Suzuki yelling "I don't care" through most of it. "Mother Sky" and "Spoon" diverge radically from the studio album versions. On "Mother Sky," Suzuki adds more vocals while the band makes the song rock harder, and toward the end the whole thing picks up frenetic speed like a runaway train flying down a mountain. "Spoon" sounds completely different than the studio version recorded six months later, as it almost seems like the band is inventing the piece for the first time. What is usually one of Can's tightest works begins with a very free-form approach here, like the more experimental abstract pieces on Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi, until eventually the "Spoon" keyboard line begins to emerge and coaxes the others into a prototype of "Spoon." Suzuki begins to sing the familiar lyrics while the group tears into the piece with a punk-like speed and ferocity. The sound quality on the CD is not all that great, especially blurring Jaki Liebezeit's incredible percussion work, but the excellent performances of material that is either new or drastically reworked make up for the mediocre sound.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
Can
19:31
2
Can
Can
21:57
3
Can
9:10
4
Can
Can
11:58
5
Can
Can
10:32
blue highlight denotes track pick