Songs For Mothers

Today is Mother’s Day. Mothering Sunday, to give it its full Anglophone title, is traditionally observe don the fourth Sunday in Lent, three weeks before Easter Day. Originally on this day people would visit their ‘mother’ church but it has become an occasion for honouring and celebrating the roles of mothers- and celebrating Mums is something that I think we can all agree on. I’d like to think that next Sunday, in Julian Cope’s world or Samuel L. Jackson’s, is Motherfucker Sunday but I can’t find any evidence for that as yet.

Two songs with mother in the title by way of celebration. First up Pop Will Eat Itself and a 1992 song that opens with some acid house bleeps, then a furious barrage of guitars and the line ”I gave you grief, you gave me milk’. Clint goes on to apologise to his Mum by saying ‘I never planned to disappoint you or annoy you to desert you or destroy you’. A familiar tale.

Mother

Can released Mothersky in 1970, a song on their Soundtracks album, with a full cream groove from Liebezeit and Czukay. This re-edit by Pilooski tweaks it for the modern age. Damo Suzuki sings of mothers and madness.

Mothersky (Pilooski Re-edit)

More

Also from 1976, like yesterday’s Lee Perry song, and recently rocking the floor at Weatherall and Johnston’s A Love From Outer Space night (not that I attended, I’m picking this up from social media) is Can’s …And More. The West German group get down to the disco and pick up some steam, Jaki Leibezeit’s irresistible stomp extending their hit single I Want More (this was the B-side and on the album Flow Motion).

…And More

I Want More

I recently acquired a copy of a 1993 12″ single by Ege Bam Yasi- thanks Ctel by the way- and have been coming back to it fairly frequently. Ege Bam Yasi was from Inverness, born James MacDonald, an early adopter of acid house and has been making records since 1986. He took his stage name from the famous Can album and in 1993 put out a cover of Can’s only hit single I Want More, recorded with Edinburgh’s Finiflex. There are 3 mixes on the 12″, each one based to a greater or lesser extent around the Michael Karoli guitar riff, and clearly intended as much for the floor as for home listening. This one has a vocal sample, the instruction ‘everybody listen’, that choppy riff, some flute and a crunchy Finitribe/Finiflex rhythm. After one minute thirty-ish it becomes increasingly acid house.

I Want More (Malcolm Eggs Mixegg)

Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay, bassist in Can and artist in his own right, has died at the age of 79. Holger joined Can in 1968 and was a key player, not just on the bass, but in engineering and producing their records and encouraging and exploring the experimental electronics they moved into. His basslines were recognisable and innovative. Can have become one of the names to drop, one of the ‘seminal’ influences, but they were also genuinely groundbreaking and have layers and layers of sound to soak up. The rhythm section was often right at the forefront and by placing bass and drums at the heart of Can’s sound, minimal and repetitive beats, they made krautrock something you could dance to. White, German men making dance music. Drummer Jaki Leibezeit died earlier this year too. Yesterday’s Spacemen 3 song was over ten minutes long. This is double that. Plus, you can spot Bobby Gillespie’s lyrical steal.

Yoo Doo Right

And just to demonstrate one outpost the Can influence spread to here’s a dreamy Carl Craig remix from 1997, Future Days (Bladerunner Mix).

Jaki

Jaki Liebezeit has died aged 78. There aren’t too many drummers- forgive me drummers if I’m showing my ignorance here- who you can say are unique and recognisable. His playing, his rhythms, on Can’s records are otherworldly, like nothing else. As well as Can he played with Jah Wobble, Michael Rother and Brian Eno. Again, there aren’t many drummers whose name alone makes me want to check out something they played on. Jazz trained, reluctantly pushed into rock ‘n’ roll in West German beat groups in the 1960s he (and the rest of Can) came up with something entirely new that was also culturally significant. Can were determined to reject all that their fathers had stood for, perhaps more significant in Germany in the 60s than other many countries, and avoid the influence of the USA too. They wanted to make a music which was new and European with the rhythms well to the fore. His Can companion Holger Czukay was asked by a journalist if Jaki was like a drum machine. ‘More accurate’ he replied.

Future Days

This footage shows B-Boys poppin’ to Can’s Vitamin C back in the day.

That is the real deal I believe.

RIP Jaki.

Hey You, You’re Losing Your Vitamin C

I’ve enjoyed watching The Get Down, Netflix’s series based around the birth of hip hop in The Bronx in 1977. Whenever one of the characters (Dizzee) appeared so did this song, with those crazy Jaki Leibezeit rhythms and Damo Suzuki’s vocal refrain. It’s off Ege Bamyasi, released in 1972, the album that enabled them to move into a bigger and better studio. At only three minutes thirty three seconds long it doesn’t outstay its welcome and leaves me wanting more.

Vitamin C

Guten Tag

I unfolded myself off the bus, after thirty six hours from Krakow to north west England yesterday. Sleeping sitting up is a skill I’ve not quite got the hang of and my back has suffered. But our school trip to Krakow and Berlin was fantastic, all the moreso because we were in Berlin last Sunday night when Germany won the world cup. The streets of Berlin were flooded with thousands of Germans, most draped in the colours. We’d passed the Brandenberg Gate early on Saturday and had a look at the fan park but decided that keeping sixty-four teenagers safe while watching the final might be tricky. Eventually we all watched it on a big screen in the square outside our hotel and Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station. This ensured a constant flow of fans before and after the match. It was crackers and probably a once in a lifetime experience- watching a country win the world cup in that country’s capital city. It certainly won’t happen as a England fan.

Berlin is an amazing city, one which I want to return to. There’s so much to see and do- in two days we squeezed in sections of wall, Checkpoint Charlie, a trip up the TV tower, Alexanderplatz with its 60s concrete architecture, Sachsenhausen and the Olympic Stadium. Seeing some of the wall was a highlight for me- something that was such a key part of world history and from my lifetime. After Berlin we went to Krakow, which has a beautiful square and buildings, and drank tea (black tea with cold milk, the English way) in Noworolski Cafe, frequented by Lenin in the mid 1910s. And had a couple of Polish beers.

I’ve downloaded a few of the pics off my phone here…

Holger Czukay of Can, was born in Gdansk, Poland and raised in Germany. He has recently remixed some solo tracks from his 1977 album Der Osten Is Rot and issued them on 10″ vinyl through a Berlin based record label, Gronland Records. Click on the link for loads of grooviness. The remixed Sudetenland, with Jah Wobble, Jaki Leibezeit and Conny Plank, is out right now and you can listen to it here.