Can Future Days/Landed/Soon Over Babaluma/Unlimited Edition

Mute’s continuing effort to give Can fans the ultimate listening experience has produced a second batch of top-notch remastered reissues that follows the release of the extraordinary first four albums from last year. Future Days challenges both Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago as the collective’s best work. Damo Suzuki’s final appearance as the band’s vocalist results in a record that is much more placid than their previous work. Beginning with a relaxed but lively rhythm on the title track, it travels a linear motion through the teutonic beat of the poppy "Mushroom” to the swirling epic finale of "Bel Air.” Unfortunately, Suzuki’s departure left the vocal duties to violinist/guitarist Michael Karoli and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, which wasn’t disastrous for Soon Over Babaluma, but as vocalists, they lacked the madcap façade Suzuki was known for. Nonetheless, the album proved there was life for the band still, especially in the vibrant pulsations of "Chain Reaction.” Landed kicks off with the immediate crash of "Full Moon on the Highway,” which shows a heavy rock influence in the pounding drumbeats and Karoli’s wailing guitar. Regrettably, this is where the legends began to lose their glint, as their ambition to evolve turns in some erroneous moments. Unlimited Edition though collects some valuable unreleased recordings dating back to the band’s inception. "Mother Upduff” finds some impromptu storytelling by Malcolm Mooney over a frenzied drum fill and riotous horns, while he turns in powerful lungs on the soulful "The Empress and the Ukraine King.” Suzuki is in top form on "I’m Too Leise” and the funky "TV Spot,” where he’s joined by his band-mates on vox. Even Can at their worst were still incredibly vital, and fortunately their worst isn’t on any of these four records, deeming them essential additions to any fan’s collection. (Mute)