THE CAN VINYL BOX set, out December 2, looks set to be a most covetable item – “a 17-piece vinyl set on 180g vinyl housed in a linen-wrapped box,” it includes all the mythic group’s mighty works in remastered and restored versions, plus an unavailable elsewhere live disc from Sussex University in 1975, repro poster goodness and a book of notes from novelist Alan Warner. Also inside is the infamous Out Of Reach LP, originally released in 1978 after founder member Holger Czukay had jumped ship; written out of history, it has never been officially reissued.
“It was very prophetic, this title,” Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt (above, centre) told me. “It was banned, literally out of reach. It is such a hysterical record, no longer this strong organism which is breathing together. It became single musicians, more polished and streamlined and well, boring sometimes. The tension was out.”
The album was recorded in the group’s death throes, not long before the post-Pistols John Lydon suggested he take over as Can’s new vocalist. “There was all this trouble with Holger leaving, which was a sad thing,” continues Irmin, “I mean, Rosko (Gee, bass) and Rebop (Kwaku Baah, percussion) were wonderful musicians but the music became sort of wrong. It was time to stop, and even John Lydon wouldn’t have brought anything into it!”
“Even John Lydon wouldn’t have brought anything into it!”
As for their reasons for re-releasing Out Of Reach now, he cites a founding principle of Can. “I still don’t like it, but we we talked about it, Holger and me, and he said, ‘Well, it’s part of truth, so we should put it out. It tells part of the story, and we always insisted not to lie or to pretend.’ So that’s why we decided to put it out.”
In other Can news, Irmin has just released Villa Wunderbar, his double disc collection of solo recordings and film soundtracks. The group have also worked with Munich cutlery engravers Die Wunderkammer to make a range of special cutlery featuring Can song lyrics – Bring Me Coffee Or Tea from Tago Mago, unsurprisingly, features on a range of tea spoons.