Author:Rob Young & Irmin Schmidt
What can you say about Can, one of the most influential avant garde bands of all time? Well, plenty if this epic tome is anything to go by.
This is really two books in one, co-authored by journalist Rob Young and Can founding member Irmin Scmidt, and it’s one of those volumes that the word ‘definitive’ was invented to describe.
The first book, All Gates Open, written by Young, gives us a straight biographical account of the band’s career as they blazed a trail out of Cologne in the late sixties and seventies. As well as covering all their recordings in depth (although you really need to hear them, not just read about them, to fully appreciate their power), he has put together extensive interviews with all the founding band members, their various vocalists, friends and sundry associates. However, it’s his writing on the band’s incendiary and innovative music that is the highlight for me – music that is still as unclassifiable now as it was when it was first released, and yet which still uniquely resonates and reverberates today.
The second book, Can Kiosk, has been compiled by Irmin Schmidt in a sort of collage format. It includes a history of the band, put together from his own recollections and from interviews he has conducted with numerous musicians, artists and filmmakers who have been influenced by the music of Can over the years. In addition, there are extracts from his diaries and notebooks from 2013/14, which attempt, not always successfully it has to be said, to shed light on how his complex creative process works. This gives quite a different perspective to the first book on the band’s timeless music, and also on its influence and legacy, which have endured through the intervening years.
An essential, in depth read for fans. This extensive, immaculately researched and assembled work is surely the last word on this astonishing visionary band.
Length of Read:Epic
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Groundbreaking music – to quote Nick Kent from the book jacket ‘I’ve heard groups claim to be influenced by Can, but I’ve not heard anyone who has caught up – even now after forty years.’
One thing you’ve learned
For those in the area, Stuart Maconie will be interviewing the authors at Waterstones in Manchester on the evening of 3rd May.