Combining Can’s 1978 disc Out of Reach, with its 1979 album Can aka Inner Space, this twofer release captures the German band at its least Can-ish.
Out of Reach (tracks 9 through 15) isn’t even included in the band’s own official discography. Both latter-day ex-Traffic members, Saw Delight additions Rebop Kwaku Baah and Rosko Gee do all the singing here, and founding member Holger Czukay isn’t involved at all; he quit the band in ’77. Rebop is a dexterous player, but his percussion often overwhelms Jaki Liebezeit’s drums rather than augmenting them. Bassist Gee is similarly aggressive and technique-intensive, a sharp contrast to Czukay’s minimal yet empathetic previous basslines. Out of Reach is far more akin to the virtuoso flash of American jazz-rock groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra than to the intellectual, intrinsically Germanic Krautrock of yore.
The third and final album Can album recorded with Gee and Rebop, Inner Space (tracks 1 through 8) improves upon 1978′s Out of Reach by dropping much of that album’s frantic jazz-rock excess, restoring guitarist Michael Karoli as vocalist, and employing Holger Czukay’s editing skills. 1979′s Can (issued here as Inner Space) nevertheless comes cluttered with filler: A goofy fuzz-tone cover of the melody from Jacques Offenbach’s opera Orpheus in the Underworld most associated with the can-can illustrates how far the band had ventured from its avant-garde beginnings. But the strongest material — particularly “Aspectacle,” a menacing quasi-disco track akin to contemporaneous cuts by James White and the Blacks — restores that essential mystery in Can’s core.