Autobiographical Order No. 661: Can – Ege Bamyasi

If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to go back to 2014 when I began this blog to discuss the cerebral gear-turning required to remember how all these records ended up in collection. Like Rob Gordon says in High Fidelity, if he wants to listen to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” he has to remember that he bought it for someone in Fall of 1983, but decided to keep it for personal reasons. I don’t actually file my records that way, they’re in alphabetical order, but in blogging about them I do need to keep some pretty good records (which I sometimes discover are flawed—like the fact that I forgot to write about a DJ Shadow album I acquired about six years ago).

Can’s Ege Bamyasi is one of those situations. Not everyone realizes this, but there’s an astonishing amount of bootleg records out in the world. They’re not twice-dubbed albums with terrible audio, but they are often ripped from CDs. Some of them are older, and arguably better sounding (and sometimes neat-looking) but they’re still fakes. I actually own a few—of my two copies of Kraftwerk’s Computerwelt, my English language copy is a boot. (Sold at an otherwise reputable record store, which was sorta disappointing, but I’m not too worked up over it.) I also have a bootleg copy of Wire’s Pink Flag in addition to a real one, and a bootleg of Can’s Soundtracks that I’ll be writing about in a bit. They’re all somewhat interesting to me despite not being the ideal copy (Wire joke: achieved), but I have good stories about them. But when I ended up with a bootleg copy of Ege Bamyasi, I was mostly just disappointed it was a phony.

That said I got some mileage out of it: Whenever I’ve played “Spoon” or “Vitamin C” at random one-off DJ gigs I’ve picked up, people always get a particular thrill out of it. One time, a bartender at an event (beertender?) actually came over and brought me a beer simply because of it. People like Can! And they should, they’re one of the greatest. But I knew eventually I had to get a better copy, even if mine was a fairly cool looking translucent blue copy.

The Mute reissues are easy enough to find, so replacing it wasn’t a challenge, just a matter of when, really. And worthwhile: It becomes fairly easy to tell when something’s mastered from a CD because the dynamics tend to be a bit flat. You need to hear the bass in “Vitamin C” really thump and rise and fall and move with life. Don’t do Holger Czukay dirty with a shit mastering job.

This is the album that really got me into Can, back when I was in college. “Spoon” was the song that instantly captured my attention, the only real hit the band ever had, and it’s easy to see why. It’s catchy as hell, weird as it is, all psychedelic organ tones and pulsing rhythms. But over time I grew more invested in the subtler tracks on the album, like “Sing Swan Song,” whose melodic motif almost certainly inspired Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” (am I the only one that hears it? I could be, but it seems like a natural connection in the same way that Magazine’s “Shot by Both Sides” is to “Just”). You know what though? It’s a 10 out of 10 album. Just like its predecessor is. That demands the real deal. Accept no substitution.

(For more about Can, consult your local independent music writing resource.)

Rating: 10.0

Sound Quality: Great

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