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12/03/2003: "can dvd"

I already couldn't wait to get my mitts on the Can DVD, the new collection of various Can shorts, the previously released Can documentary, the 1972 Can Free Concert, etc -- my fetish for precision-German-engineered music aside, I really do love them. But David Keenan's rather mixed review of the Can DVD in the Wire inadvertently makes it sound like the greatest thing ever!

Out of the whole set, the Can Documentary is the most revealing, if simultaneously the most frustrating. The editing is intrusive and tacky, with stills spinning across the screen, slow-motion skits and irritating loops that situate its visual aesthetic somewhere between a 70s edition of Top of the Pops and a low-budget episode of Chris Morris's Brass Eye...

Ooh but the cheesiness makes it!

...But here's guitarist Michael Karoli with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist, looking like David Cassidy with a habit, or, best of all, the group live on The Old Grey Whistle Test, with Schmidt impossibly camp in a chainmail waistcoat taking fey, comedic karate chops at his keyboard. It's hilarious and distressing at the same time, as Can's once-mysterious veneer erodes before your eyes and you're left watching aghast as Schmidt minces and mimes "I Want More" live on Top of the Pops while decked out in a glittery Silver Surfer baseball jacket...

GREATEST DVD EVER. Keenan goes on to say that Can " their best worked an inviolable slipstream parallel to whatever was going on contemporarily..." Sure, but part of what made Can cool was that they were so uncool. Music so unearthly that it made sense that they were uber-nerdly. Silly moustaches, iffy fashion sense and an almost-glamminess done up Deutsche-stylee -- that all made them even more awesome, made them nearly human before they shuttled back off into space.

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