Saturday, January 24, 2015

Books: Can's Tago Mago by Alan Warner (33 1/3 Series)

Can's Tago Mago
The 33 ⅓ series is a set of short books, each one taking an in depth look at a famous music album. In this case, the groundbreaking double album by the German progressive rock band Can, Tago Mago, which is one of the centerpieces of what the British cheekily called “Krautrock” and the Germans called “Kosmische.” Warner takes a roundabout way in talking about the album, preferring to place it in his own personal narrative, a coming of age story where the boy from a remote Scottish village is gradually exposed to more creative punk and new wave music and then discovers the music of Can from which there is no going back. After touching on the album in the beginning of his narrative, we timewarp back to rural Scotland in the mid-1970’s when Warner started listening to soundtracks and movie scores, gradually moving on to punk and heavy metal while scouring the NME and other music papers of the day. His interest in Can came from an interview with John Lydon in one of those magazines which sent him in search of the band’s albums in the little record store in his village. It is kind of quaint remembering the way music information was disseminated in the days before the Internet with slick music journals and underground zines leading you to search often in vain for some obscure LP. Warner is so obsessed in berating us with his own story that he doesn’t even begin to discuss the album in question until about ⅔ of the way through the book! To his credit, he examines the album in depth in a way that is easy for the non-musician to understand while also including interviews with a few members of the band, and his recollection of his first hearing has a breathless immediacy to it. So, it is recommended to fans of the album, just know what you are getting into: instead of juicy gossip and behind the scenes intrigue, you get the recollections of a self-absorbed fan. Caveat emptor. Can's Tago Mago (33 1/3) -

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