Review Summary: Can's 1969 debut may not be as experimental as "Tago Mago" but is a more concise and rewarding experience.
Alright now, what do we have 'ere? Ah, it is "Monster Movie", the 1969 debut album by German Krautrock pioneers Can. Is it the one where this Malcolm Mooney-dude sings? Yes it is. So, is it good? Yes it is. Better than "Tago Mago"? In my opinion, yes.
Apparently, Can were compared to Pink Floyd
a lot by the few people who actually knew about them, at the time this album came out. "hich is probably why "Monster Movie" is generally regarded as a release where the band "wasn't fully there yet" and "still had to reach form". Just to make that clear: I don't think Can sound like Pink Floyd at all and I think they were only compared to them at the time because there was nothing similar and people needed some kind of reference. One thing's fo' sho' tho': Can were the most experimental rock band (apart from Captain Beefheart) that had existed up to that point. And yes, they were more experimental than The Velvet Underground
will (or would) ever be. All of the members had an avantgarde and/or jazz background. Thus, this album's sound is pretty strange and miles apart from the melodious, eastern-inspired Anglo-american psychedelia from the same period. Contrary to that, the four tracks that make up "Monster Movie" are pretty atonal and extremely rhythm-oriented most of the time. If it had come out sometime between 1982 and now, people would have labelled it "noise rock". In fact, there's quite some similarities to Sonic Youth
's debut album "Confusion Is Sex". The opening track, "Father Cannot Yell" begins with one fast, looped organ note and a simple drumbeat and soon transforms into a high-energy maelstrom of Micheal Karoli's atonal, stinging guitar, Irmin Schmidt's sparse keyboards and Malcolm Mooney's manic preaching on the solid foundation of Holger Czukay's pumping bass and Jaki Liebezeit's tribal drums. You'll feel more like listening to some sort of voodoo ritual than a rock song. The second song, "Mary Mary So Contrary" is more melodious and less energetic than the rest and thus, is the album's worst track. "Outside My Door", on the other hand has not only a mouthharp that sounds like an accordion, but also a Mooney who damn near screams his lungs out. You gotta be crazy if you don't wanna listen to that! But then comes the album closer and undisputed highlight: The 20-minute long, improvised "Yoo Doo Right". This one is about 2 times as hypnotic and at least 45% more tribal than the rest of "Monster Movie", Mooney preaching himself into nirvana, Liebezeit impersonating an African tribesman banging on a wardrum and Karoli doing Thurston Moore before there even was a Thurston Moore. What amazes the most about this track (and the rest of the album as well) is how concise it is, despite being mostly improvised. I guess mainman Holger Czukay never let the rest of the band's playing meander too much, so that these songs seem more like workouts than freakouts. And that's what I disliked about Can's second effort (third if you count "Soundtracks"), "Tago Mago". Some of the tracks on that album were too stretched-out and/or too "avantgarde" to be enjoyable.
In concusion, "Monster Movie" is not as experimental or outright psychedelic as "Tago Mago", but is a more concise, focused, driving and ultimately more rewarding experience.