Like most people, I am coming to CAN’s first album (as The Can) having listened to their peak motorik albums many, many times. I’ve treated this one like the first child given up for adoption or something, only getting around to looking for it well after I became a fan of the band.
The good news for anyone approaching this record backwards, as assume most of us are in the 21st century, is that there is a lot that is reminiscent of later CAN present on this record. In fact, this record kind of feels like the point at which motorik in particular and Krautrock in general may have been invented, as many aspects of the classic Krautrock sound are already present on some of the tracks. (Also Mooney sounds at times like Suzuki – specifically on “Mary, Mary So Contrary” – which is a little weird…)
It’s pretty clear this is formative for the band as they were still a long way from their peak sound; this record is a lot more primitive, a lot rawer, a lot less polished. And a song like “Outside My Door” sure doesn’t feel at all like the CAN I know (well, until the end). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Moreover, it’s clear that they were already developing the ideas that would make them do distinct in the ’70s this early. I listen to a lot of music from the 1960s and I can’t think of too many bands that put out something like “Father Cannot Yell” this early.
And I think that’s where I’m at with the record: imagine hearing this in the summer of 1969. They already sounded like nobody else: they have the motorik on some songs and they sound like a borderline punk band on another song. This record, for all its warts, basically invented a genre.