Purporting to offer viewers "All things Can," this exhaustive and exhausting 2-disc set culls together every bit of footage you could ever want and a bunch you may not. Can is one of those legendary bands, like the Fall after them, that all hipsters love because they broke all the rules, even if you couldn't hum a single tune. It's one of those bands that could be, could be, more important than good. In Can's case, the band explored textures and melodies within an avant-garde rhythm-first canon that at best spawned the overtone-drone rock of Sonic Youth, and at worst occasioned a whole lot of Sonic Youth second- and third-tier combos making bad art-wank run-ons.
The two discs here focus around a Can free concert (circa 1970s) in their native Germany and an hour-and-a-half German TV documentary, respectively, with lots of added footage, the best of which is a whimsical home video movie by Brian Eno praising Can in all its understated glory, which is something this DVD could have taken a cue from.
The bonus footage of the band doing photo shoots for a remix project five years ago shows them to be just another bunch of graying rockers in sunglasses, while elsewhere it's revealed that Can's core four members can make music with verve and relevance, albeit in the shadow of their past, which, ironically, the DVD does well to mythologize.
Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].